(I managed to make this review spoiler free for book 1, so you can still read this and learn about how amazing this series is without having to read Before She Ignites! Below is the summary for book 1.)
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been known not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
But when Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for, she’s betrayed by the people she serves and given a life sentence in the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
OH. MY. GOSH.
Y’all are not ready for As She Ascends this Tuesday. I kid you not, this series has managed to get even better with book 2, and the entire concept of second book syndrome has been tossed out the window.
All of the problems I had with book 1 were completely fixed in As She Ascends, and it’s like Meadows is a mind reader or something with how she was able to basically tailor this book to suit my tastes.
My biggest critique of book 1 was the pacing being somewhat slow, but in As She Ascends, there was so much gripping action and I literally could not scroll through the manuscript fast enough. I need to get a more powerful mouse or something, because I totally devoured those pages.
100 pages would go by and I wouldn’t even realize it. That’s how gripping this book was.
Before She Ignites is very much Mira being imprisoned, while As She Ascends was much more Mira on the run and Mira doing action and Mira doing things instead of being a sitting duck, which I had a lot more fun reading.
It’s not that the slow pace of book 1 is bad, but it’s not as riveting as this book was. As She Ascends takes on a very different tone and outlook on the characters’ situation, which I greatly enjoyed and found really entertaining!
Part of this is probably because book 1 was in “Before” and “After” format, while book 2 only had short chapters from Aaru’s point of view in the past!
I admit that I was honestly kind of apathetic to the romance in book one, but in As She Ascends I SHED REAL TEARS. Meadows is wicked good at building the angst and the tension between Aaru and Mira was so strong.
It wasn’t unnecessary angst or anything–just a sort of angst that makes you ship the characters even harder and want to smoosh them together and yell at them to talk. I was tearing up (It was also late at night, but still) during some of their interactions and was definitely wayyy more involved with their relationship in this book than in book 1.
(In comparison to other books, though, this is like the most extreme slow burn of all slow burns.)
Plus, we get to see far more dragons in this book then the last, which I absolutely adore! Not only do we get to see more of LaLa and the cute companion dragons, there’s more large and somewhat scary dragons too! It was all very exciting and I loved this aspect.
The political machinations still stand, and it’s quite twisty as you definitely are being misled in some areas and should follow your gut instinct in others…
And Mira just really grew as a character in this book. I mean, I’ve pointed out how much I love seeing anxiety rep in a fantasy setting, and it’s so nice to see a character in a fantasy novel taking medication etc.
She learns a lot about herself and her decisions and I really like how Meadows framed Mira against Chenda and highlighted some of her decisions and reactions in that way. Her growth was really one of my favorite parts of this novel, and Mira has been through such a huge personal journey in this series (and she still has places left to go).
Overall, As She Ascends totally blew Before She Ignites out of the water, and I’m so excited to read book three when it comes! I NEED more and I definitely recommend this series, especially on how the sequel did not disappoint!
Thank you so much to the author for providing me with a manuscript in exchange for an honest review!
(Plus, don’t forget to check out the awesome preorder swag giveaway here–you’ve only got two days left!)
Have you read Before She Ignites? Are you going to pick up this series?