Title: Going Down in Flames
Author: Chris Cannon
Format: ebook, 407 pages
Published: June 30th 2014 by Entangled Teen Ember
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.
Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.
Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.
Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.
At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can't have.
GOING DOWN IN FLAMES by Chris Cannon was an engaging YA urban fantasy featuring dragons. I love dragons so I HAD to pick it up. I did enjoy it, but not as much as I expected to. Since it mostly dealt with youngsters -and I'm in my 60s - I was exasperated by and lost patience with some of the heroine's thought-processes. A younger reader would probably not experience the issues I did.
GOING DOWN IN FLAMES is the story of Bryn, who finds out shortly before her sixteenth birthday that she's a shape-shifting dragon. I was intrigued by her ability to eat as much as she wanted and not gain weight (LOL! Wouldn't it be awesome if we could all be shape-shifting dragons and eat whatever we wanted?). Prior to her I'm-a-dragon news, she had no inkling that her parents were both dragons. Her first experience of breathing fire is not pleasant:
"Acid surged from her stomach and shot up her throat, burning her esophagus. Pressure built in her chest. She coughed. Her lungs constricted. She cleared her throat and opened her mouth to speak. Flames exploded out of her mouth and shot across the room, setting the kitchen curtains on fire."
Of course, her life is upended by all this. She finds out that dragon society is sequestered by clans which are segregated by color. Each clan has different special powers. Bryn is an anomaly because her parents - her father is a red and her mother is a blue - defied the rules and married.
"They taught me to stand up for myself."
Not only does she discover that she's a hybrid who shouldn't exist, but that she has multiple powers. For instance, she can manipulate quintessence making her a magician of sorts.
“Quintessence is the essence of all things. It’s the very stuff life is made of. Learn to manipulate it, and you will be able to do simple spells. Learn to control it, and you could do anything.”
To top the "great" news for her, she also finds that she must leave the only home she's ever known to attend a dragon academy or a certain grinchy venomous blue dragon will ruin her parents. He would do that because her mother jilted him to marry her father; He can do that because he's the head honcho of the dragon directorate. The directorate is quite stringent with their rules including decreeing who can pursue what courses at school and who can marry.
“Has the word revolution ever been thrown around?” Bryn asked. “They sound like a bunch of power-hungry dictators.”
Once she arrives at the boarding school she didn't want to attend, she finds that no one wants her. She's bullied by teachers and students alike.
“All the teachers at this school attack their students? Or are you just a raving bitch?”
This book relates how she copes with adversity, politics and unwanted attention and how she finds friends, family and possible happiness. There's a bit of romance but it's not the over-riding theme of the novel and her relationship status is left in flux at the end. Durn it! I liked spikey-haired Zavien, a black dragon who is trying to peacefully change dragon society. I was a bit confused by him, though, as he ran hot/cold where Bryn was concerned.
"You're like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute you're nice, and the next minute you're obnoxious."
"I threatened him with bodily harm. He promised to bring me cake for the rest of my life."
I also liked her other black friends, Ivy and Clint.
The author's writing is quite good and her word building is first-rate. The world she has created has incredible possibilities and I would like to see it developed further. I'm hoping this is the first novel in a series and that the sequel addresses loose ends and resolves the "hot water" unsettled issue of the rigidity of dragon society.
"You haven't changed at all. You still have a God complex."
"Living a simple life full of love had to be better then living an extravagant life full of hate."
The story was enjoyable enough for me that I would want to pick up the next book. I would recommend this read most especially to YA readers who love paranormal fantasies.