Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford. ★★★
Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon is an entertaining enough YA fantasy novel that has trouble with general thinness when it comes to plotting, world building, and characterization.
Allyson Takata is having an ordinary day at the mall with her best friend Beth when some strangers try to kidnap them and Allyson suddenly… spits fire? Allyson soon finds out that she’s half dragon and that other descendants of mythical creatures live secretly among the regular humans, including Beth who’s part troll. When Beth is blamed for the kidnapping of a unicorn, Allyson and Beth go on an adventurous road trip to try and clear her name.
The premise of the world building is that there’s different types of mythical creatures (dragons, unicorns, trolls, and griffins being the most prominent) who have their own communities and have in some cases interbreed with humans. I would have liked more from the world building, especially when it comes to a sense of the different groups having history and culture. There was a bit of that, but I didn’t think there was enough.
While You Might Be Half Dragon had a plot, I felt like it could have been better developed. For a lot of the novel the characters seem to just be moving from scene to scene, plot point to plot point. Also, the plotting felt light and this is only a 230 page novel.
The biggest plot hole is a common one in YA fiction – refusal to tell the parents anything because… reasons. When you find out that you’re a half dragon, what do you think the logical next step is? Ask your mother about it? Show her your scales? Maybe at least start up a conversation to fish for family history? Or you could just not indicate to her in any way that you’ve suddenly grown scales and started spouting fire. Also, why did Allyson treat her mom so despicably when she ran off on a road trip with Beth? She was a super jerk on that phone call.
The only character who was at all memorable was Beth, and that’s mainly because Beth is one of the only teenage girl characters I’ve ever seen who’s large and muscular. Everyone else is completely forgettable. I’d read this book only a week ago, and I’d already forgotten Allyson’s name by the time I’m writing this review. She’s basically a carbon clone of all the other generic YA female protagonists.
All of that said, I did really like the friendship between Beth and Allyson. It can be pretty rare to see female friendship get this amount of page time or focus on a fantasy novel, so I really appreciated it. There was also a romance with the stock “hot male love interest” character, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.
Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Part Dragon was all right if not spectacular. I mean, there’s nothing about it that I really hate. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it either. It might actually be a pretty good book for when you’re sick and just want something fluffy and mindless.
I received a free ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.