Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers, #1
Published: July 15th 2014
Publisher: Rachel Aaron
Format: ebook, 315 pages
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...
When this book first came my way, I didn’t recognize the name Rachel Aaron and was surprised when a friend talked about her like she’s someone I’m supposed to be very familiar with. The joke’s on me though, guys, because Rachel Aaron is Rachel Bach, author of the Paradox trilogy, published by Orbit, which I’m currently enjoying in audio format.
For reasons I can only assume, Aaron/Bach chose to take the self-published route with her new Heartstrikers series, and while I’m sure promoting it will be more difficult, I have a feeling traditional publishers would have tried to tame this book, change it to make it fit into the usual genre confines and definitions. Trying to turn a book like Nice Dragons Finish Last into something less than it actually is would be akin to cold-blooded murder.
Nice Dragons Finish Last has elements of urban fantasy, science fiction and futuristic dystopia, combined in a way that works splendidly. The story takes place in a futuristic version of Detroit called Detroit Free Zone, where magic came back with a bang after a comet strike in 2035. It is the only place where dragons are absolutely illegal and it’s where Julius’s mother decided to dump him, bound in his human form, with merely a month to prove himself as a worthy dragon.
According to his family, Julius is a poor excuse for a dragon. He has very little ambition and no violent tendencies whatsoever. He’s in no hurry to outsmart anyone and he doesn’t much care about collecting treasure. From a dragon’s perspective he is essentially useless and his numerous family members don’t hesitate to tell him so loudly and as often as possible. Even with merely a month to impress them, Julius can’t quite force himself to be the dragon his mother wants him to be. While certainly resourceful, he is soft-hearted and kind, and very reluctant to step on anyone’s toes.
The real fun starts when Julius teams up with a young witch from Nevada. After that, it’s one hilarious adventure after another for the two of them. Aaron did an excellent job with these characters as well as several secondary ones, especially Julius’s brother Bob who is a constant source of amusement.
I hesitate to reveal any plot points since I feel that it's best to go into this blindly. Urban fantasy fans, fans of dragons and especially fans of good humor will find plenty to love about Rachel Aaron’s new series. I certainly did.
I'll miss you guys! (No, I won't. I'll be having fun.)