Before She Ignites Review
Updated: Jan 21
Before Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement that 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. After Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to 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. No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, 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.
Now I'm going to tell you the Good, the Bad, and My Final Thoughts on the book.
-Mira. I like the main character. Author Francina Simone described her as a Hufflepuff and after reading the book myself. I agree. She's a passive character for a majority of the book and if I was raised the way her mom raised her, I'd probably be that way too. Her personality is to have concern for everyone else, before herself.
-The representation. Mira's black and she has anxiety. Now the book is not about these things, these are just character traits of the MC and it was done so well. I would have loved for this book to have come out when I was of the YA age when I was still dealing with my own self-hate. Having a character who looked like me, but the book was just about her adventures with dragons. I'm so down for that. Then with Ms. Meadows integrating Mira's anxiety without relying on stereotypes is also a breath of fresh air.
-Dragons. The book has dragons, I miss seeing dragons in literature. Nowadays it's all vampires and werewolves. Not that that's bad, I just miss other supernatural beings.
-Slow Burn. This book is painfully slow. The intensity of the plot doesn't happen until 80% of the way through the book. When Mira finally decides she's had enough of the way she's being treated, the story is almost over.
-Dragons. Yes, this book has dragons and that's awesome, but they're rarely seen. You hear about the dragons more than you see them.
-The Prologue. People have a love/hate relationship with prologues. We all understand the point of them, but there are far too many times where they come off unnecessary and do more harm than good. I feel like in Before She Ignites, the prologue could have been nixed and the book would have remained the same. It was just going over the Mira Treaty, but I feel that could have been addressed within the story and without coming off as info-dumping.
I do plan on checking out the sequel to this and while it took me longer than usual to read the book, I did enjoy it. Now, I've seen some reviewers comment how Mira is not a true black character, she's just a white character in blackface and this upsets me because it dates back to my high school days where I got teased about not being black enough because of the things I liked and the way I spoke. Newsflash, there's no right way to be black, and we really need to move away from this narrative because it is harmful to not only the people it's spoken to but to the movement of having more diversity in media.
Rating Style: Amazing Great Good Meh Bad Horrible Garbage
Overall Rating: Good