Nice Dragons Finish Last: Review

Nice Dragons Finish Last: ReviewNice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers #1
Published by Self-Published on July 15, 2014
Genres: adult, dystopian, urban fantasy
Pages: 315
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon • Goodreads

four-stars

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…

A soul sucking ghost cat. This book has one.

I do like to hook you into reviews with mentions of mystical cats, don’t I? Well, besides the cat this is an incredibly enjoyable futuristic urban fantasy romp. Add in one seriously lovable protagonist and in the beginnings of what is sure to be one epically cute romance and what more could I need? Oh, that’s right. Dragons.

In the America of the not too distant future, a meteor crash has reawakened magic for humans and unleashed dragons back into our world. I really loved that this is a futuristic urban fantasy with lots of cool sci fi touches and even a distinctly dystopian feel. In the newly created Detroit Free Zone, US law does not apply and dragons are expressly forbidden. Which makes it really a shame that our hero, Julius, a dragon, finds himself exiled to the DFZ amidst a wicked web of treachery of political dragon intrigue.

What I love about Julius that he is really a hero to root for. Give me the nice guys any old day! Nice Dragons Finish Last does for urban fantasy what The Goblin Emperor did for high fantasy: gives us an affable, optimistic, inherently lovable main character to battle for the light in what is often a grim and dark genre. Julius and Marci, the vulnerable but gutsy bad ass mage on the run from a dangerous pursuer, make this book such a delight to read.

And there’s a great secondary cast of characters too. I found myself pleasantly surprised at how fast the minor characters grew on me in a short period of time and even were able to geniuinely surprise in the plot. In particular, Julius’ brothers Bob and Justin make an impact (yes, Bob the Dragon). Did I mention yet that this book is really funny? Because this book is really funny.  For instance, Bob, a seer, is inclined to sign off on his correspondence with “Hearts and kisses, your infallible and all-knowing brother, Bob.”

The mysteries at the center of the book (Who is shaking up the dragon world and caught Julius up in these politics? What are Marci’s pursuers after? How do the two intertwine?) keep the story moving. The characters are in near constant peril and must use their wits, kindness, resourcefulness, and Marci’s magic to keep one step ahead.

Now to the burning question: Is there romance? A teeeensy bit. Not nearly enough for me but a very solid setup has been established. I expect we’ll be seeing between Marci and Julius that is going to be just gods honest adorable in future books.

The sight filled him with tenderness and surprise. Nothing, not even animals, fell asleep next to a dragon. If Justin had been here, he would have claimed this was just more proof that Julius was officially the saddest excuse for a predator to ever live. For Julius, though, it was a precious sign of trust, and the more he thought about that, the more determined he became to make sure it was not misplaced.

So, you know, obviously that’s super adorable. *sigh* Can it be 2015 and can Book 2 be out already? You must know the intensity of my grabby hands is quite high!

Super fun, fast paced, urban fantasy full of heart, and plenty of magic, charm and humor to spare, this self published gem was one of my favorite discoveries this year!

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