[Scorched] Mari Mancusi

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I’m always a bit leery when I pick up dragon books. Although I love fantasy, there’s always the potential that books with dragons will fail spectacularly, perhaps because dragons are such a fantastical subject. Books that contain dragons have to contain strong story lines and characterization, like the Eon and Seraphina series, in order to truly snag my interest. Scorched fell slightly short of that. Where I was desperate to finish the two series I just mentioned, Scorched left me with an overwhelming feeling of “meh.” It was good, but the greatness that could have been Scorched continually danced just out of reach.

The action of Scorched starts as soon as you open the book, something that I admire. Mari Mancusi thrusts her readers into a world where characters travel from an apocalyptic future to the present, in order to prevent it from happening all over again. Connor, the boy from this future, must convince Trinity of her pivotal role in this apocalypse–and that she can prevent it from happening. He’s meant to save her from the Dracken, a group who will stop at nothing to bring dragons back and drive the world straight to hell. That in itself is interesting. Unfortunately, Trinity is quite annoying. Her back story is plausible. Since becoming an orphan, she has needed to take on the brunt of the responsibilities because her grandfather is convinced that the next big break for the Foxx museum will come in the guise of petrified Sasquatch dung. She’s had more than enough troubles in her short life, and Connor has only added to them. What frustrates me as a reader is that she takes so long to get it together; time and time again Connor proves that he is trustworthy and that the egg is dangerous, yet she still calls the police and makes trouble for both of them. When she finally realizes that he isn’t there to harm her, she is kidnapped by Caleb, and proves to the reader that she is easily manipulated. With Caleb in the mix, she doesn’t know who or what to believe anymore: is Caleb the bad one, or Connor? Thus the reader is taken on a loosely written journey where we’re not supposed to know who the bad ones are,  but because it is poorly disguised, we do.

There are things that I enjoyed about Scorched. I really loved the idea of the Nether world, a place that lives in the collective conscious of both dead and unborn dragons, as well as those who are Fire-Kissed, a term used to describe those who have bonded with dragons. It is a place where dragons and their bonded humans can play. The Nether was used to show both the destruction caused by the dragons and the peaceful possibility of dragons. I liked that duality. In fact, I liked most bits with the dragons, which unfortunately was not the focus of the book, even though there is a dragon on the cover. That was a very frustrating part of Scorched. There wasn’t enough dragons in it. The focus was on the human characters, who were only interesting to an extent. Their woes became repetitive because they did not change.

I knew when I started Scorched that it was a trilogy. I’m just disappointed that it is. I wish that this was a standalone. Scorched had a chance to excel, but it was stretched thin because it  is written in a way to contain the story in three books. It started out strong, the writing was clever and entertaining the majority of the time, and the tease of dual timelines that could change and cease to exist kept me reading. Unfortunately, the actual plot of this particular book was quite boring and repetitive. There weren’t any moments that surprised me. The overall plot of the series sounds interesting enough, but I don’t know if it’s enough to get me to read the other two. I’m left with a feeling of having read The Terminator with dragons and a few too many clichés.

2 stars.

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