Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

While I was reading Pantomime, I realized that I hadn't read any YA fantasy books since my very bad experience with the genre in June 2013.  Since I don't believe in writing off an entire genre, I figured I should read this book partially because someone recommend it, but also because it has a gorgeous cover and I love the name Seraphina.  I can be a bit shallow sometimes.

I quite enjoyed this book.  I loved reading about this fantasy world and I thought that it was a really cool idea that the dragons could take human form.  Our heroine Seraphina is secretly half dragon and half human, and that's pretty much unheard of.  I liked that she wasn't the only person who was special, and I really liked reading about her forming new relationships.

Glisselda is Seraphina's music student and when she was first introduced, I was a bit worried about how she would be handled.  She is a princess and very feminine, while Seraphina doesn't really care about things like dressing up.  Sometimes you have two girls contrast in this way, and one is held up as this sort of better woman, who is more down to earth, while the more feminine one is treated as some silly airhead.  I'm glad that this book didn't take that route.  I think that it definitely could have, especially considering where the romance led us, but these two young women were friends and not rivals.

Speaking of the romance, I did really like the guy.  I thought their relationship developed very well, and I was on board with the whole thing.

My biggest criticism was that I didn't like the idea of dragons being emotionless.  I read the interview in the back of the book, so I know that the author reasoned that since dragons are reptiles and apex predators, they are not very social.  I can understand that, but love is illegal?  Hell, no, I cannot understand that.

I feel like enough stories have been written where feelings are extremely suppressed and love is not allowed to exist (The Giver, Equilibrium, Delirium, etc.).  I don't need to read another one.  It would be more interesting to me if different arguments in favor of feelings were made.  They aren't just there to spice up life; we did evolve the way we did for a reason.  Relationships are necessary because two or more people working to achieve a common goal are more likely to be successful.  We become emotionally attached to people and that motivates us to strengthen our relationship with them.  I'm just saying that it all works out logically.  Emotions and logic do not always contradict each other.

If anything, I think that humans are far more likely to suppress their emotions than dragons.  Don't we do that already?  We wear clothes while most animals do not.  We feel shame about all sorts of things, including sex while animals will have sex in public.  They simply do not give a shit that other people can see them.

There was one part in particular when a dragon saved a human.  He was very confused about his motivation for doing so because he wasn't in any immediate danger.  It was in his best interest to act as he did, but he hadn't logically worked that out at the time and he just acted in the moment.  I feel that a dragon would understand instinct and I couldn't buy this dragon's confusion.  In the wild, if he thought about everything logically before he did it, he would probably be dead.

So yes, I think that it would make more sense that dragons would be in touch with their emotions far more than humans.  But I did enjoy the book and I look forward to reading the sequel.