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Seraphina - Rachel Hartman Very nice debut book, good prose and meticulous world-building, with many original choices and a skillful rendering of music as protagonist element. Most of the side characters are intriguingly detailed and while this book doesn't end with a cliffhanger, it definitely opens up new adventures and development. What perplexed me in this otherwise very pleasant reading it's that very interesting and clever plot devices, not to mention the complex world-building, the religious view, the music (the hints in lyrics, for one!), the clash of cultures/heritage/memories in Seraphina's mind (the greenery!), the dragon-society background, the philosophic debates, the parent-child relation, the choice of a first-person narrative with this very protagonist, a lots of careful details and why not, the main story itself, are combined in a -reasonably- clumsy manner with some little plot-holes, rushed explanations, far-fetched situations and a rather dull romance story with no edge whatsoever. I'm under the impression that the premises were solid enough for an epic adult fantasy, but somehow along the way this turned into a half-hearted attempt at YA, sporting classic cliches (no, really, a prince?), easy way-outs and some incongruous situations and behaviors. So, this is a hybrid book in a way... it was and yet it wasn't a conventional read, all the world-building raised my expectations almost instantly and I really hope the author will write a powerful, inspired sequel because with a little filing and polishing there's definitely the potential for more along the lines of both YA and adult genres.
Also, the main characters around the protagonist (I still have to see if I like Seraphina or not, if she can finish the leap from the swallowing-in self-pity teenager stereotype to the full-fledged heroine character one can empathize with) are not really fleshed out, we get very little insight as to their behavior and most of it is somewhat forced (particularly, the princess' motives and oblivious manners are puzzling, but also most of the royals' gut feelings...too convenient) as if simply subservient to the plot and to Seraphina's development: it may be partly an effect of the first-person point of view, or of the lack of inspiration while giving them voice apart to be defining for Seraphina, or both, anyway I really hope they'll get more engaging in the next installment.