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Fallen Isles #1

Before She Ignites

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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 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.


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.

481 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 12, 2017

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About the author

Jodi Meadows

29 books4,626 followers
I write books. I snuggle cats. I drink coffee.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,054 reviews
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 29 books4,626 followers
July 25, 2018
Lots and lots of dragons. I'm not even kidding when I say I'm working on a dragon guide for other nerds who want to know all the things about the dragons in these books.


This is a book that I am writing.

It now has a title. But I'm not going to tell you what it is . . . yet. Soon, though. Soon!


9/28: I saw a piece of the cover -- an important piece -- and I can't express how beautiful the cover is going to be. I can't wait to see the whole thing!




10/3: And it has a title!! BEFORE SHE IGNITES!


7-16-18: Do you want a free Fallen Isles postcard from me? Just add your address here and it will come to you: https://tinyurl.com/jodimail

Opportunity ending July 31, 2018!
Profile Image for Melody.
293 reviews71 followers
September 27, 2017
I want black teens to know exactly what you're getting into with Before She Ignites. I'm concerned that a black girl will see this gorgeous cover in a library or bookstore and pick it up thinking it will empower and entertain her. This is 300-something pages of a black girl being abused - physically and emotionally - by almost everyone in her life. Does that sound like a fun YA fantasy story to you? It's not to me.

The plot: BSI is about Mira Minkoba, a political figurehead named after an influential treaty that united the island-nations her people come from. She is VERY important because she represents the treaty. Mira doesn't want to do politics though, she just wants to hang out with dragons and her "friends". When Mira and her "friends" (her bodyguard & a dragon trainer assigned to her) stumble upon a plot to sell dragons to their enemies on the mainland, she feels obligated to stop it. The dragons were put on the islands by the gods and the island people are supposed to take care of them and whatnot. Selling them is illegal thanks to the treaty. Mira goes to the adults, unaware they're part of the scheme, and gets thrown in prison where she must come up with a plan to escape and save the dragons. Because saving the dragons will in turn save the islands from the wrath of the gods.

Now I admit this is a cool concept. Unfortunately the author doesn’t fully explore any of the above. We stay with Mira as she moves from one traumatic experience to the next. While Mira is played up as ~*special*~ and ~*perfect*~ and The Chosen One, she doesn't get treated that way.

Our heroine is diminished by almost everyone she interacts with. Everyone is using her or hurting her in some way. There isn't a single black woman character in the entire book that's kind to Mira of their own free will. Her mother is overly critical and thinks she's stupid, her sister is jealous of her, her mentors betray her , her cellmate ignores her for a while and then blames her when things get bad, her work detail boss smacks the shit out of her on her first day, and the only real female friend she makes in prison betrays her too. It's appalling because sisterhood is taken seriously in black girl world. We look after each other. Why is there absolutely no one looking after Mira? Why is she completely alone in this?

Her makeup artist is nice to her, but she's a servant. Her doctor is nice, but she only exists in flashbacks and is more of a vehicle to teach the audience about mental illness than an actual character in the narrative. Her dragon trainer "best-friend" from the island is nice to her too but that chick technically works for her (even Mira acknowledges that she's not like a real bestie). A strange boy she meets in prison is kinder to her than the women she's known all her life. Even if it wasn't intentional, this is a book where all the black women are mean to the vulnerable black girl.

So! Why does Mira go through all of this? Well, Mira wants to show everyone that she's strong and unbroken. I can't recommend any book about a black girl who "discovers" her true strength by being mistreated. Why exactly does cruelty have to be the way she discovers her strength? Mira is naive and does dumb shit cause she has no street smarts. But Mira is book smart, she's empathetic, she's good with numbers, she catches on fast. All of these things seem secondary to having the tenacity to stand up again after being literally beaten down to the floor. People, that's the strong black woman trope in action.

The stereotypes from our world should not be showing up in a high fantasy book. From a racial and mental health standpoint, publishing a book in 2017 with the strong black woman trope hurts black girls. It takes away their humanity. It makes non-black people think their suffering is a virtue or how they push through pain is inspirational instead of a crying shame. Black girls are MORE than just pain and suffering. You can mention shea butter a hundred times, but if you don't understand the culture or our history, you should not be writing about black girls.

Some final things you might find useful:
-- There are several long, detailed panic attack scenes. Like 2-3 pages long. I don't have severe anxiety but I feel like that should warrant a trigger warning
-- About 75% of the book is set in an underground high security prison and no, there aren't any deep, profound statements presented about the prison industrial complex
-- If torture upsets you, don't read this book. Seriously
-- The main villain who does the most heinous shit in the book is a black man. Of course
-- Other reviews mentioned she may have ripped some elements from The Mortal Instruments
-- The ending is pretty to visualize but makes no sense
-- NOT ENOUGH DRAGONS! If homegirl is willing to destroy her life for dragons I need more of them on the page! How are dragons the main plot point and barely show up on the page?????!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,943 followers
September 20, 2017

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I loved some parts and others I'm not too sure about so I'm going to go with 3 stars for now. I will do a re-read before the next book comes out and maybe that will be better =)

Mira is friends to dragons but the dragons are being hurt in this book. Mira also goes to prison because of reasons. She meets some cool peeps there.

Then she gets out for a bit and gets back to her best friends only to be sent back to prison with her friends. It's all crazy.

Most of the time is spent in the prison but I'm hoping that with the way things were headed at the end that the next book will be even better!

And it has dragons! And I hope something good comes out of it =)

Mel ♥
Profile Image for Cesar.
364 reviews237 followers
March 21, 2020
3.5 stars

“Thre is strength," he said slowly, "in knowing when to speak, and when to listen." His hands stayed on his chest, motionless. "And when to say nothing at all.”

Dragons in literature have always interested me in how they are presented. You got the massive ones that can literally set fire to an entire village and you got the small ones that can be on your shoulder.

Before She Ignites combines two of my favorite things: Fantasy and dragons. What more could you want from a book? I mean, DRAGONS!!! Dragons you can pet!!!

Mira is the hopebearer, someone who is very important not just only to her island, but to all the Fallen Isles. She was named after a treaty, the Mira Treaty, and she is expected to be the girl who can bring hope and peace to the Fallen Isles. But secretly, Mira doesn't know if she can do it. With her anxiety (OCD), it makes things complicated. When she uncovers a secret and tries to expose it, she is sent to the Pit, an underground jail where she waits for judgment from the people who she thought she could trust.

My experience with Before She Ignites was good but there were a few things that made it feel just a tad bit underwhelming.

At first glance, you'd expect to not only read about dragons but also learning about the politics of the Fallen Isles. To which I would say, yes. However, most of the story does take place in the Pit with a few changes here and there.


I liked Mira as a character. She really wants the best for not only the Fallen Isles but for the dragons as well. It's hard for her to do it with her anxiety (and possibly OCD, I'm not an expert) but she still wants to persevere through it and accomplish her goals for peace. We see her grow from a privileged girl to someone who wants to create change for the better of the people and the Isles. She's very determined and idealistic. What I also like was how she was not defined by her anxiety. She has her moments of crippling anxiety, but she stays determined to try and do what she thinks is right. It made me angry with how the guards treated Mira. But she stayed strong. It is a trope, but Mira stays strong through it all. Especially with her anxiety. She is a strong character not because she was thrown in jail. She's strong because of her beliefs. She's strong because no matter how many times she's put down, she gets back up.

"I had knowledge. I had Power. I had a voice.
And it was my duty to use them all."


Dragons. Dragons! DRAGONS!!!

Before She Ignites has dragons and even if they appeared sometimes throughout the book, I still loved them. They played a role in the plot and weren't there just for show. Though I do wish more had appeared, I was glad they weren't completely ignored. Plus, there's this one scene with a baby dragon and I just loved it. We need more baby dragons.

It should be mandatory that everyone gets a baby dragon to raise. Who doesn't want that???


There is political talk here as well and while I don't think it's like other books that have a focus on politics like the Winner's trilogy, I was intrigued by how the Fallen Isles works. There may be more expansion of the world in the next book and hopefully, Jodi goes into that.


The worldbuilding was interesting, to say the least. But I do wish there was more to it other than the Pit. I know that sometimes the first book in a fantasy series is the building block for further development in the next book, I at least wanted more development in the first book that way I can have more insight when I go into the next book. There should've also been a map. One thing I like about fantasy novels is how expansive a world can be. It has been mentioned that there is a mainland aside from the Fallen Iles and I have a feeling it will be explored in the next book.

The Luminary Council was also something I wanted to know more about. One thing I don't like about most fantasy novels is how there is no backstory to certain groups.


Despite the few cons, I did like my experience with Before She Ignites. This was my first book from Jodi Meadows and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Thanks for reading my review!

Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 21 books13.5k followers
November 30, 2017
Be prepared that this book has a slow start... it took till about half way through for me to work out what was going on...

I think this is a well thought out book. Loved the magic system, although i feel like it still needs explaining. But thats the point of the story I believe, I dont think we are supposed to understand it till the next book.

Looking forward to more Dragons I hope! AND LESS PRISIONS
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,253 followers
September 7, 2017
3.5 stars
Alone. Abandoned. Apart from everyone I loved. All because of one act of trust. One truth. One horrible mistake.

I didn't know much about this one before picking the book up other than dragons. Let me repeat that: DRAGONS. And I am more than pleased with how it turned out. I didn't expect a story filled with politics and imprisonment stemming from a treaty made between islands the day Mira was born.
This moment. Right here. I had my two best friends and my two favorite dragons, and everything was perfect.
But I should have known better than to get comfortable. The next disaster was about to begin.

Mira, a girl of incredible privilege who is seen as the face of the treaty, discovers a truth and is sent to the deepest, deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles for it. Unprepared for the new life before her, she must find a way to survive while waiting for the Luminary Council to realize their mistake. Can Mira survive the pit and keep the very secret that sent her here with a guard wanting nothing more than to find out what that secret is?

And did I mention the dragons? Because that's a large part of the world in this book. While there could've been a lot more with dragons in these pages, they do appear in a few scenes. Even when they aren't present, the dragons are discussed a good amount. Mira loves dragons. They are her passion regardless of what is expected out of someone of her stature. This made me admire Mira because she truly cares. I enjoyed learning about the different species of dragons. I just wish there had been more scenes. Something tells me future books will make this happen.

I wasn't sure how to feel about the protagonist at first because it takes a moment to get to know her and really see her personality. It doesn't help that we get to know her at her lowest point being put in prison, pretty much the last place she's equipped to be in. Growing up, her mother always pointed out what she viewed as flaws while stressing how lucky Mira is to be pretty causing Mira to think that's all she is: a pretty face. Her arc is one of growth throughout the novel. I appreciate the development she goes through as she finds strength. Mira is incredibly caring and empathetic. Oh and did I mention her crippling anxiety? It is written very well. And she has OCD and counts compulsively. The panic attacks Mira has are very realistic. This was my other favorite aspect of the novel.

I was a bit put off by the before and after stuff only for how often it jumps around in the timeline. It is hard to keep track of the when of things with how often it would jump further into the past, go back to present day, and then go to just a month ago. No, let's go back ten years this time. Now we're going back seven months. It just felt like a lot and had me constantly flipping between chapters to see where said chapter fit into the timeline.

While I really enjoyed what world building there was, I want more. There is still so much we don't know about. Things and places were mentioned but not explored even remotely. And I'm a bit unclear as to how exactly Mira's father was the one to write the treaty, yet the Luminary Council had all the control when it came to Mira's situation. I'd like more detail on her family, as well as the political system. Plus, am I the only one who didn't fully understand these noorestones?

It's exciting to see a fantasy series with a POC protagonist who is also an excellent mental health rep. And the entire storyline involving the dragons is so fun. Mira's friendships are wonderful to read about. There are a couple big twists. And the book definitely leaves you in need of the sequel - making it easier for me to forget about the issues I had.
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,507 followers
September 17, 2020
This book is about dragons and not going with the flow. So basically, this book is something I will be gushing over for a while.

Mira is basically the face of a treaty of peace between the isles. The treaty states that everyone is equal and no one can own a dragon and so on and so forth. But just like we have seen in our own world today, just because a piece of paper says everyone is equal, doesn’t mean that everyone sees everyone as equal. It actually gets pretty political which I couldn’t stop comparing it to the discrimination we are dealing with here in 2017.

Mira does whatever she is told whenever she is told to do it. She has a pretty face, which she is told her is her only asset, and so she uses it to unite the people. Her real passion is with her best friends: dragons. So when she finds out the reason the dragons (the Children of the Gods) are disappearing and no one will take her seriously...

They put her in The Pit, which is where they put their high-watch prisoners.

Mira deals with PTSD and anxiety. Being the face of the treaty, and not everyone agreeing with said treaty, she has had some people want her dead. She deals with it by counting. I feel the whole mental-side of this was really well done.

The world building is slow but a good slow. There are a lot of different types of dragons, small and big, and the whole gods-aspect is something to grasp your mind around. But like, dragons though.

I feel this book could have been a prequel to the next book. It built-up a lot for the series and I am excited to see what unfolds in this series!
Profile Image for Beatrice in Bookland.
459 reviews839 followers
December 19, 2017
*I received an arc from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

DNF @ 40%

I'm giving it two stars just because the anxiety/ocd rep was good and the little dragon was so cute!

so let me introduce you to Mira, our female lead:
· she complains because the prison's water isn't sanitary
· she worries because she has ONE pimple on her chin ("Even the slightest pressure sent ripples of pain across my face." are you fucking serious???)
· she's sad because the other criminals don't like her
· she thinks about all the times her mom told her she was a disappointment
· she's basically bipolar: she goes from "I'm so stupid I can't do it" to "I was a brilliant star. It was my duty to shine"
· she risks getting punished by the guards in order to keep her (filthy) dress because "the dress is mine so I want to keep it"
· she's sad because she wants to wrap her hair but she doesn't have a headband
· she just waits around for her parents to save her
+ she can't cook and she doesn't know how to wash her clothes, braid her hair and mop

so how did she survive for 16 years? it's a mystery

I think it's safe to say I've made my point, I can't put myself through this torture anymore so bye

oh I almost forgot: there are silent brothers who live in a place called Idris
now I can go
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,213 reviews11.7k followers
November 14, 2018
All I really needed to know about BEFORE SHE IGNITES before I read it can be summed up in two statements:

1) It's by Jodi Meadows, who is an author I absolutely adore.
2) It has dragons in it.

Suffice to say that I have been extremely excited about this novel since it was first announced, and I have eagerly anticipated being able to read it as soon as possible. And now that I've read it, I can confidently tell you that it's another really great story from Jodi Meadows. The world was so interesting, the plot was really engaging (in spite of the limited setting that the author worked within) but, best of all, Jodi has created yet another main character that I adored and found easy to relate to. I really look forward to seeing what happens next for Mira and her friends, and I can't wait to read the sequel!
Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews362 followers
October 25, 2019
I really enjoyed the bigger plot with the dragon trafficking, the corrupt government, gods and mythology, but when I first requested an ARC of this I was expecting something totally different. I wanted a kick butt female character going on adventure with some awesome dragons at her side, but after reading a few reviews saying the main character Mira spends most of her time in prison, I was a little wary. I tend to avoid novels that are primarly character driven because fast pace plots are what I usually find myself enjoying the most.

Miras jail time seemed to drag at times, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how much her narrative hooked me. I still prefer main characters who are a bit more cunning and brave, but I found her inner struggle compelling to read about. I understand the author was trying to portray a main character with insecurities and anxiety. Its saddening how much damage her mother has caused, but what's worse is that it doesnt just happen in fictional works. I felt like Miras character growth was realistic considering everything shes been through.

Her relationship with the people she meets in prison were interesting. I especially loved the prionser in the cell beside her, Aaru. I also loved the cook Tirta and I thought Gerel was a little rough around the edges but she grew on me. Her guard frustrated me so much when he was cruel for no good reason. He could have went about getting information from her by befriending her, but he made a good antagonist and so did Elbena. We also get flashbacks that show us Mira spending time with dragons as well as her family and friends.

The flashbacks really helped established the world. I liked that we didnt know how or why Mira ended up in prison. That mystery element helped get me invested in the story. I did like the authors writting so I do plan on checking out her other books. I enjoyed the action at the end. I have a feeling Im going to like the sequel even more than the first book now that Im attached to the characters and if the plot goes in the direction Im anticipating. You should pick this up if you like character driven books and the premise sounds like something that would interest you.

*received for honest review consideration*
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
July 25, 2017
DNF @ 41%

I received an eARC, this in no way impacts my opinion


I tried. I wanted to like this but I just can't. I'm getting so many Shatter Me vibes from this that it kind of hurts. I wanted heaps of dragons because I stared Game of Thrones and am currently obsessed with Khalessi (spelling is probably wrong).

There are other reasons I didn't enjoy this. In the first chapter we reference both Idris and Silent Brothers, like, hello Shadowhunters? I understand those words are universal and can be used in any book, but you could have tried to be original.

As well as this, there are endless amounts do list. Frequent lists. For some reason the main character what's to do one every bloody chapter.

The main character, Mira, is also both stupid and dramatic. Never a good combination. I just can't put up with her naivety in this book anymore.

I may try this again once the full copy has been released, but for now not enough dragons.
Profile Image for mith.
756 reviews265 followers
June 2, 2017
lmao i give up. it's so boring and i'm so tired of the before and after nonsense.
Profile Image for Martina Boone.
Author 12 books1,989 followers
March 7, 2017
This is an utterly dazzling and beautiful book with a richly imagines world, fresh wonderful characters, and a story that didn't let me go from the first page to the last. And can I just say that I desperately want a dragon? Remarkable!
Profile Image for Sarah Kershaw.
118 reviews
July 16, 2018
Do you want free bookish mail? Get your As She Ascends postcard right here:

4.5 Stars

All I knew going in was something about a prison and dragons but that sounded very exciting, PLUS when I first saw the cover I was blown away and so grateful to see a beautiful black woman on the cover of a fantasy book! As someone who has 3 black children and a black tween daughter who is obsessed with reading (and DRAGONS!!!), I was thrilled. I am always on the look out for books that speak to her and help her see herself in books.

The Story:

Mira Minkoba is a girl who grew up being the face of the Mira Treaty. The Mira Treaty was created to unify but also give independence to all the Fallen Isles. Dragons no longer were to be kept as pets and would be kept in sanctuaries for protection. Mira, who also loves dragons and helped train one, discovers some truths that she wasn't meant to know and then unexpectedly thrown into the worst prison within the isles.

What I loved:

Mira - Mira is flawed. From an incident in her past, she developed a coping mechanism of counting everything. I loved this. I've never seen anything quite like it in a book. She also has really low self-esteem. She's told all her life that she's not good for anything but being pretty. This plays into her struggles in the book. Mira's growth is realistic because she does grow but still struggles with her weaknesses. I loved how WEAKNESSES CAN BE SEEN AS STRENGTHS, yet some weaknesses she knew she had to change. She never gives up even when all things seem lost.

Anxiety Attacks: Mira majorly struggles with anxiety attacks throughout the book. This element was so well written!

The prison/setting: I also wasn't sure what it'd be like to read a book predominately set in a terrible prison but I actually loved it! There are flash backs of her before the incident but the majority of the story is set in this prison and it was dark, scary, terrifying at times, felt real, and many mental and physical battles were born. Mira meets other inmates and I love meeting unsavory characters, they're also super interesting to me!

The romance: I do want to say that there is NO love triangle. Some people have wondered and no, there isn't. But I will say there are a few moments in this book that made my heart soar and pages that were burning hot. ;)

The world-building: I LOVED the world-building in this book! There are multiple islands and each one of them has a different Fallen God they worship. And each of those Gods have certain characteristics (silence, warriors, kindness, etc.) that are valued. I do hope to see a map and possibly an index describing all these differences. I thought religion was woven in beautifully into the story and it influenced how certain characters behaved, thought and responded to situations. The magic is also a bit of a mystery and I like it when there's more to learn. There are these noorstones that glow and provide light for inside buildings.

The theme: I think one awesome theme in Before She Ignites is no longer letting others silence you. Mira spent her whole life being silenced and it's something she deals with in the entirety of the book. I hate when I feel like my voice is taken from me and I found this book very inspiring to stand up and fight back.

Quick read: Believe it or not, but I found this book rather quick to read through. I really wanted to know what happened to Mira, all the other prison inmates, her family and friends.

What I didn't like:

I found it a bit long and slow paced at times, however I still found it to be a quick read.

Mira's weakness of being disgusted when she felt ugly, made me a little frustrated at times. I wanted to slap her and say, "You are still beautiful, and get over yourself, looks aren't everything!" But I also know this is one of her personal flaws. When you think your ONLY attribute to world (because others tell you so) is a pretty face than jeopardizing beauty can have major internal struggles. I have hope for her that this will be a flaw she'll work through in the next couple books. No one overcomes insecurities in a month.

I enjoyed the scenes with the dragons but would like to see more! I think there will be in the upcoming books.


Before She Ignites was a fiery beginning to a stunning new fantasy series by Jodi Meadows! After finishing I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and was left with enough questions to desperately want more. If you love flawed characters, fighting against injustice, dragons and new worlds, you'll definitely want to pick up this book! I gave it 4.5 stars.

I created a Pinterest Board if you're interested in aesthetics. https://www.pinterest.com/thebooktrav...

*Thank you HarperTeen/Katherine Tegen Books for sending me advanced copy of the book!
Profile Image for Farren.
676 reviews70 followers
December 17, 2017
It was exhilarating, really.
Being shred asunder.
Burning like a thousand galaxies.

I've been such a moody reader the last few months so it took me forever to finish this book, but I really enjoyed the story. The writing flows well and is incredibly engaging, the characters were all fantastic (including the bad ones), and the settings were described so well I could imagine myself there, even though this took place in an entirely different world than our own.
I loved Mira and reacted more strongly to her than most main characters. Her anxiety was realistic, and while it was an important factor it never overshadowed the plot. Mira was admirably strong, fighting tooth and nail for what she believed in, and always managed to persevere despite her disorder and the control others endlessly exerted over her. I also loved her relationship with Aaru, which is built on the need for companionship and support rather than instalove or physical attraction that's more common in YA books.
I was worried I wouldn't like this book because of the dragon thing, but they aren't really present throughout the whole story and actually fit into the plot nicely. The story focuses mostly on how much Mira loves dragons, how they help her cope with her anxiety, and how they are involved with the treaty for which Mira is named after.
The ending was so good and I cannot wait for the second book to come out. I honestly have no idea where the story is going to go from here!
Profile Image for alice.
270 reviews335 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 6, 2017
I don't know, I'm not feeling it. I'm at around 45% into the book, and nothing really has happened?? Mira has been interrogated about dragons, and she's been locked up in a cell and been extremely mistreated, and there's a lot of characters, and my expectations have dwindled massively. I might continue this later or end up calling a DNF. I'm very disappointed right now - I was hoping for a lot more action.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,224 reviews257 followers
August 20, 2017
“I had knowledge. I had power. I had a voice.
And it was my duty to use them all.”

Dragons and mental health rep in a fantasy is the recipe for a good book. Mira Minkoba is told she’s special, so when she uncovers a dangerous secret that threatens the Treaty that keeps peace between the Fallen Isles, she thinks the council will listen. Betrayed and alone, Mira is imprisoned and must battle her own demons to discover the truths that will save her world.

Things I Liked
I love that we got to see some mental health represented in a fantasy story. Mira has severe anxiety and compulsive counting. We see her struggle with both through the story and dealing with panic attacks as well. Mira is shamed by some for her anxiety and counting (especially by her mother) but she also uses her counting to her advantage - adapting and learning to survive in the Pit. I loved Mira’s growth and acceptance of what she perceived as flaws, especially after feeling so helpless . It’s always awesome to see more neurodivergent representation in YA literature, and it’s inclusion in a fantasy setting is something I definitely want more of!

Dragons are always a bonus in any books. Now we don’t get to see as many dragons as I was expecting and that was a bit disappointing, but they do have a presence in the story. They are upheld as vital to the peoples of the Fallen Isles. The dragons in the story are approached in a very scientific manner, with proper classifications, which was different but kind of cool. I would have liked more dragons/dragon interactions, but I liked what we got.

I feel like we got a very focused sort of worldbuilding in the story. We really only got worldbuilding that was relevant to the plot at hand, but I did like everything we learned. I liked learning about the Mira treaty and its implications for not only the seven Fallen Isles, but the mainland Algotti Empire. I like the bits of information we got about the different cultures and beliefs of the Fallen Isles - how some beliefs are transcendent like the Great Abandoning, and others are independent to their respective islands like how the people of Idris communicate or how the people of Bopha worship. I like that each of the Fallen Isles represent a god with their own views and ways of living.

Aaru is such a kind and gentle soul. He was probably my favorite character. He was so easy to latch onto and care for. I loved him a lot and I really loved the friendship that develops between Aaru and Mira.

Things I Didn’t Like
This was my first encounter with a Before/After format in a fantasy novel, and I have to say it wasn’t my favorite. I felt like the format disrupted the story for me and kept all of the worldbuilding pieces farther apart. For me, worldbuilding is such a huge part of fantasy stories, that I wished it was more cohesive and fluid. I had to remind myself of what I knew, when the characters learned certain information, It just wasn’t my preferred style.

The biggest issue I had with the story is that I wanted more. This goes beyond having some unanswered questions, which I’m fine with, but I felt like I was just missing some information. I didn’t feel like we learned a lot about some of the Isles, like I said above we get targeted pieces of information that’s relevant to what is happening to the plot in that moment, but it didn’t help create a full world for me - it still felt very limited. I felt like we also didn’t really know anything about the mainland, Algotti Empire, and why there was a conflict with the Isles. For noorestones being a pretty important feature in the story, I felt like they weren’t explained very well, so when they behave differently I didn’t know why I was supposed to care. I also felt like the political system wasn’t clearly defined. It seemed like there were ruling families, like Mira’s, but also council’s for each Isle that seemed to have more power. I couldn’t tell if Mira’s father was a figurehead and the Luminary council held the real power, or if they were more underhanded and slowly gained more control.

While I did enjoy parts of the story, I was underwhelmed by the whole thing. I love Mira’s journey and the neuordivergent representations. And dragons are always a plus. But I wanted more from world, the politics, the characters. Before She Ignites is a fun story in an exciting world, and I look forward to learning more about it in book 2!

I received a copy of the book from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews261 followers
August 13, 2019
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I think Jodi Meadows has turned me into a fantasy reader.

And I am totally cool with that.

Before She Ignites is a diverse and accessible fantasy…with dragons. DRAGONS. Ok, but back to the rest of the story. Mira is a political figurehead in name only, so named for a treaty meant to provide structure for independence while unifying under agreed upon boundaries (like not trading or selling dragons, who are majestic creatures meant to roam free). She’s not supposed to have any power other than to be a pretty mouthpiece for whatever the all-knowing adults need her to say or do.

Problem is, adults sometimes break the rules and do really bad things. Selfish things. Things that do not align with the morals and ethical boundaries of their society.

Mira learns this the hard way when she happens upon such a conspiracy and it lands her in the worst of the worse prison. Mira has been taught to be pretty. To be proper. Her only friends in this world are people who are paid or assigned to be around her.

To say Mira does not have the skills to survive prison is an understatement. We spend most of the book uncovering Mira’s strengths and the things that she views as weaknesses. Mira’s anxiety, something she’s been taught to keep under wraps, becomes prominent - but so do her coping skills.

In addition to Mira, there’s a fantastic set of side characters, both in and out of prison. From her two best friends (who double as protector and mentor) to the morally-gray characters she meets in prison to the politicians who I can’t wait to see GO DOWN, I am invested in their stories the same as I am Mira. I also have my ‘ships ready but that’s for all of us to see how they play out in As She Ascends and book 3.

But wait, there’s more! You didn’t think I was going to forget about the dragons, did you? I appreciate that we don’t have the full scope of the world built out. I get bored easily when there’s a lot of worldbuilding, especially since the book isn’t fully set in the world. But I do appreciate getting to know the different types of dragons. That helped endear me to them and I left the book very concerned for their wellbeing. I NEED As She Ascends to be sure Lala and Crystal and Lex are doing ok.
Profile Image for kate..
112 reviews29 followers
November 20, 2017
If you adore dragons and magic please take an interest in this novel.

So, my expectations were definitely low when I began reading, I knew this book wasn’t that popular.
But, I couldn’t put this novel down, even though the first half takes place in a prison!!! It was fascinating all due to the amazing characters that the author introduced! I’m always drawn to novels that introduce their own myth/universe, I love the depth it gives to the timeline of the world created.

BTW: Aaru, Chenda and Gerel made this book what it is!!

Absolutely recommend!
Profile Image for Take Me Away To A Great Read.
498 reviews3 followers
August 30, 2018
Pre-order info is up! Check out all the cool goodies you can get!
More info here.



So different then I thought it was going to be and so much better!!!

I absolutely LOVE this book!

I can't wait to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
January 29, 2020
This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library

A spoiled, privileged, none-too-smart girl with a mental illness is thrown into the most awful of jails and must content with a cruel prison guard who is determined to uncover the secrets that put her there.

Mira is the Hopebearer, nothing more than a pretty face and a voice for the Luminary Council to placate their citizens due to a treaty named after her. Mira holds no real power, and she discovers this when she uncovers something she shouldn't have and tries to do the right thing, culminating with her being tossed into an underground jail known as the Pit. Mira suffers from anxiety and panic attacks which I think are written quite well. She is obsessed with numbers and continues to count throughout the novel, without her illness being magically cured by the end. She spends most of the novel in the jail, and we see the lead-up to her imprisonment through flashbacks as she slowly reveals her secrets to us and to a cruel guard determined to make her like even more miserable.

Meadows shows her skills as a writer by slowly uncovering the truth not only about why Mira was thrown in jail, but about the people who put her there. I don't really want to say much else because it's better to go into this novel unspoiled and reveal it for yourself. I really enjoyed all aspects, especially as Mira began to realise her world was not the way she thought it was. She goes from a soft-skinned pawn to a stronger young woman who figures out that although she has been in a gilded cage her entire life, her voice can be used as a weapon.

The use of short flashback scenes cut between the current timeline of Mira in prison helps to not only reveal what led to her demise, but also develop the characters of her best friends and to see more of the dragons that Mira loves so much. It creates a kind of cliffhanger at the end of every chapter: You want to know what's going to happen next in the current timeline but you also want to see more of Mira's life pre-prison. You really get the sense of Mira's privileged lifestyle as she bemoans all of the luxuries she's missing in prison and her obsession with food is completely understandable when she is starved and tortured.

I think my only problem with this novel is that Mira spends an awful lot of time in prison and stubbornly doesn't spill her secret the first chance she is given. I don't really understand why she keeps the secret for so long. I feel that if I were in her position I'd be telling everyone I could. The more people that know, the less the bad guys can get away with what they're doing. However, it's a very small issue and the rest of the novel is thoroughly enjoyable. I'm really looking forward to the sequels.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Atlas.
715 reviews28 followers
June 18, 2018
Once I'd been a girl, but now I was more. The sparks ignited
*  *
2 / 5

I had a lot of hopes for Before She Ignites, mostly stemming from the gorgeous and inspiring cover and the mention of dragons on the back. Unfortunately, 75% of this book took place in a dark, dank prison and there was scarcely any draconic presence.

"Ready for dragons?" My soul lightened. "I am always ready for dragons."

I heard quite a lot about Before She Ignites that really intrigued me. Dragons. A POC character with anxiety and OCD. Creative mythology. But what we get is a touch of the dragon mystery and then Mira, a girl who stands for the signing of a peace treaty, is thrown into prison for a secret. There's a lot of potential here and I thought the start was fantastic, but then the story becomes excruciatingly slow. Mira spends pages upon pages being bummed out about being in prison, eating bad food, not getting on with her cell-mates.

I also found the whole worldbuilding incredible confusing. A treaty is named after Mira because she was born on the same day, on one of several islands named after gods. Why? Then there's special magical powers that don't make much sense, some political shenanigans that are confusing, and an annoying time flip from past to present that happens every few pages.

Strip away the things that had made me special at home and underneath I was just an awkward girl with panic attacks and a counting habit

This book was a depressing read. It takes place in a prison where the prisoners are seriously mistreated and the main character is slowly sliding downhill in terms of mental health - so the subject matter is dark - and the literal setting is dark. This book is gloomy. I found Before She Ignites to be slow-paced, boring, and thought that it seriously under-delivered on the whole "illegal dragon trafficking" premise. But I have read a lot of raving reviews for this book, so take my opinions with a pinch of salt!

I really wanted to like Before She Ignites, but it didn't really tick any of my boxes. I felt a bit misled by the synopsis and it took me a long old while to finish this one.

My thanks to Edelweiss for an ARC of this book. 

Profile Image for Krysti.
364 reviews124 followers
August 9, 2017
BEFORE SHE IGNITES is a beautiful and poignant new fantasy series that puts a spotlight on mental health unlike any fantasy novel I've ever read before. This is such an important book. I truly believe this book is going to be a game changer in its genre. And on top of all that, it has dragons!

I feel like there has been a lot of progress with contemporary fiction having a focus on mental health and some really great representations of different mental illnesses, but BEFORE SHE IGNITES is the first fantasy novel I've read that has focused on mental health to this degree, and I am so thrilled to see it.

Mira is a wonderful main character. She's kind and loving and relatable in that she certainly has her own very human condition that she is trying to cope with. What I really loved about her is how she demonstrates that there is more than one kind of strength that is important. You hear people talk a lot about strong female characters in fantasy novels in particular, and a lot of the time they are referring to the fact that these girls can kick some serious butt. And while Mira has many different kinds of strengths, I feel that it is her mental strength that really shines. Having to battle through those kinds of anxiety and panic attacks is so hard, and Meadows certainly doesn't make it seem like it's an easy thing for Mira deal with. But she finds a way to survive, and she does that all while trying to uncover some really terrible realities about the world she lives in.

There is an incredible cast of supporting characters, as well as some hints of a sweet romance that I can't wait to see more of in the next book in this series.

This book is so important to its genre, it's so important for readers of all ages, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Plus, did I mention there's dragons?!
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