- Author: Amparo Ortiz
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: October 6, 2020
- Publisher: Page Street Kids
- Series: Blazewrath Games #1
CONTENT WARNING: racism, gore, violence, murder, abuse, kidnapping
Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people.
In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner — the only player without a dragon steed — is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire — a legendary dragon who’s cursed into taking a human form — the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets canceled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.
There was so much about this book that I loved, but the first thing that came across loud and clear to me was that Amparo really poured her entire heart and soul into this book. And it clearly shows. I honestly didn’t really know much about the plot going into it, but it sounded a little intriguing. Once I started reading, it quickly became the kind of story that I fell head over heels into. I was invested from the first chapter, and things snowballed from there. It’s so much more than just a story about an exciting sport involving dragons and motivated players; it’s also about a massive conspiracy that threatens everything Lana loves and values, and her desire to do everything she can to save her world from destruction.
The writing was descriptive without being flowery, and allowed me to visualize everything that was going on easily. Reading through the action scenes was a completely unique experience — everything was so thoroughly explained that it was like watching a movie as I read. There were humorous parts and aspects of the story that had me tearing up, as well as parts where I got chills and even one where I sat upright and shouted “YES!” It felt so real while I was reading that these reactions were totally normal for me. The way the game itself was written felt a little disorganized, and I would get somewhat sidetracked when I read those parts.
While all of these parts were great, the real strength in this story, for me at least, was the characters. I enjoyed Lana’s persistence, willingness to stand up for herself, and her determination to get to the bottom of things. She’s ridiculously stubborn, which I love to see in a character. But at the same time, she’s vulnerable and tries to keep it hidden. A big part of her personal journey is finding her way to her self-identity as a biracial person who spent the majority of her life not living in Puerto Rico, and expects flak for that. However, sometimes I just wanted to smack her for putting up those walls and separating herself from the people who really did want to help her.
“I’m not Puerto Rican enough to raise the island’s flag high during the opening ceremonies, or to wear the Blazewrath uniform.”
I enjoyed all the diversity, and how it was done. Although it did stand out to me that the author has clearly never been in a desert, when discussing the high humidity in Dubai – anyone who HAS been in a desert would know that the climate isn’t humid at all, but hot and dry. Obviously, since there are characters from all over the world competing in a tournament, there are people of all backgrounds representing many different ethnicities, and I think they were portrayed really well. Also, there were so many LGBTQ characters, and it was absolutely heartwarming! Finally, it also used my all-time favorite trope and did it well:
“These people and these dragons aren’t the family I’ve been given, but as I stand surrounded by so much powerful magic, so much love for Puerto Rico, my heart weighs less than it did yesterday.”
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 14
Categories: Book Review