Rated Reads

Before She Ignites (The Fallen Isles Trilogy, book 1)

by Jodi Meadows

Rated: Mild

Mira Minkoba has lived her whole life as the symbol of a treaty that united seven islands against their enemies on the mainland on the day of her birth. Her father helped craft the treaty and named it after her. Mira’s not particularly interested in diplomacy or politics, but her parents and the Luminary Council have regularly trotted her out as “the Hopebearer” and she hasn’t had much say otherwise.

But what’s really meant something to her has been the opportunity she’s been allowed to spend time with dragons. The treaty specifically states that no one can own them, as they are children of the gods, and that they are to be protected and studied in sanctuaries. Her status has been a burden, but at least it has also granted her access to her beloved dragons.

Mira is beautiful and everyone thinks she’s perfect, but she feels flawed. She struggles with anxiety and panic attacks and counts compulsively. But she’s managed.

Until she discovers a secret that goes against the treaty, that goes against all she’s supposed to stand for, and Mira ends up in the Pit, the worst prison in the Fallen Isles. There, she must figure out how to survive, even as a cruel guard does everything he can to discover the secret she knows she must keep.

I enjoyed the Incarnate series by Jodi Meadows and her co-authored My Lady Jane, so I thought that this book would be a good bet. But I just had a hard time getting through it: it was slow going. Mira is in prison for most of the book, and it’s harsh and overwhelming, and the interesting secrets of the book are slow in being revealed (there seems to be one big one, given the title, and that doesn’t show up until the last 10 pages or so). I like that the heroine struggles with anxiety and some compulsiveness and feels nervous about who she is. She’s also a person of color. Both are positive elements to have in a YA book now. But overall, I wasn’t really into this.

Rated: Mild. There’s not really any language or any sexual content. Only content to note is violence, which is peppered throughout but not strong. It includes a scene or two of torture using hot stones and some fight scenes.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Before She Ignites (The Fallen Isles Trilogy, book 1)
  • by Jodi Meadows
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: