Azalei’s Riders is a book I’d read before perhaps one and a half times when I had it on Kindle (I have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering to read Kindle books, hence the half), but it recently came out on paperback and since I ordered her book box I got all three books in the Fire Rain Chronicles on paperback, along with various other goodies (including a candle that smells amazing). So of course I had to read it again, both because it’s amazing and because I’d totally forgotten what happened and needed to read it again before reading Azalei’s Strategy and Azalei’s Fall. *dun dun dunnnnnnn*
I think the different aspects in this book didn’t stand out to me as much since this was a reread, so this review might be kind of short, but I’ll preface by saying that this is an awesome book.
My absolute favorite thing about this book is the characters. (Do I ever not say that when I’m talking about a book I love?) More specifically, I love the dynamics between them. This is something I did remember from my prior reads of this book. I’m particularly partial to the relationship between Nathan and Jessica; they’re so much fun to read. We don’t get to see a whole lot of some of the characters in this book, since there are several of them and they can’t all have the screen time they perhaps deserve (this is something I’m struggling with in the book I’m writing, as well), but since this is the first of a series I trust that we’ll get to know them more and more as the series progresses (and I remember we do, with at least a few of them). All of the characters are really distinct, each one having one or two features or traits that particularly set them apart. Thatcher with his accent and blue eyes (unfortunately he kept ending up English in my head rather than Scottish because my brain has a harder time formulating a Scottish accent), Autumn with her red hair, Azalei with her almost-silent authority, etc. The characters in this book were just really well-done.
I did think that some of the flashbacks were a bit forced. Several of them seemed kind of tossed in there for the sake of plot convenience, to either give us a piece of backstory or tell us more about the plot or to tie the present to the past and I think they could have been executed a little better. I think I would have preferred the memories to be part of the characters’ thoughts rather than their own flashback in most instances.
The world is really cool, because while this is a dystopian world and it’s clearly a dystopian world, it’s incredibly unique and it doesn’t really seem all that awful. You know it is, under the surface, but on the surface you have highly advanced tech, people living above the ground so the ground can be lush and green again, vehicles built to look like dragons (how many of you would not love to have a car that looks like a dragon?), and ground-level streets that almost no one uses. (I don’t know why, but for some reason that’s really fascinating to me. It’s super cool to imagine old abandoned roads with greenery growing through cracks in the asphalt and vines wrapping around old shells of cars…)
One thing to note: If you don’t like a lot of points-of-view, this book isn’t for you. The point-of-view breaks are clear and it’s established very early in a scene whose head we’re in, but there are a lot of points-of-view in this book. I can think of ten off the top of my head. In most cases it was helpful for giving a deeper sense of the characters and the plot, but in a couple of places it didn’t seem incredibly beneficial. It still wasn’t particularly off-putting for me, but if multiple points-of-view aren’t your thing then this probably isn’t the book for you.
Overall this is definitely a five-star book and I highly recommend it. :)