Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
I really enjoyed this! It was another recommendation from the lovely @vicorva (she knows all the best books), and although it took me a while to get past the first two pages, once I’d gotten started I loved it.
It’s billed as teen/YA; there’s a dishy hero, pretty sidekick, nasty baddies, lots of adventure, the obligatory love tension. But none of it is cliché. The plot’s fast-paced and interesting. Julius is wonderful – never overdone, never too whiny (despite the fact he could be!) and Marcie is fiery and annoying and brilliant. Everyone else is brilliantly nasty, wonderfully nice, everything in-between…I love the mix of motivations and the way the characters change as events play out. Out of the secondary characters, my favourite is Bob (because Bob! And the pigeon!!) and then Ghost, because who doesn’t want a ghostly cat of death that feels like a bag of ice when he sits on you?
And the worldbuilding, oh my. Admittedly it loses some of its punch as I’m not an American and don’t know Detroit that well, but even then it’s still brilliant. The surrounding characters and world are excellently portrayed; the magic system is nice, especially with the twist of the unknown. I like that the people in the world itself don’t know what’s going on, and it’s not explained to us.
That extends to the plot, too; there’s mysteries and plot lines and characters that will get explored more later, which is excellent. I have read the second one (I bought it as soon as I finished the first and tore through it, which tells you how much I liked this!) and it’s just as good – I’m now impatiently waiting for the third!