The Saturday Reading List: Henchgirl

Henchgirl (Dakota Kekoa Book 1) by Rita Stradling

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Not really a fan of this cover version but, eh…

  • Publication Date: January 12, 2016
  • Upcoming book: Rex (early 2017)
  • Young adult, fantasy, mystery, action, romance, series
  • 3.8/5
  • Warning: If you don’t like dragons in the modern world this book isn’t for you. Also if you don’t like very lose adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, you also shouldn’t read this.

From Amazon:

“The children of dragons and humans, the dracons, control eighty percent of the world’s governments. Humans worldwide are either subservient or prey. On the small vacation island of Mabi, humans call for war.

Sixteen year old Dakota Kekoa lives a double life. By day, she pretends to be a human to infiltrate Mabi Academy, a ‘human’s only’ high-school. At night, she works as a henchman for her draconic mafia family, utilizing her ability to steal and manipulate emotions.

When Dakota’s human friend is kidnapped, she takes on the mission to find her. This is not just any mission though; she is diving head first into the escalating conflict between humans and dracons. As more girls disappear and some are discovered dead, Dakota realizes her first honorable mission may also be her last.”

Zo’s Review:

Henchgirl is a fun and engaging adventure fantasy that meshes together some of what we thought we knew about dragons with a modern setting, and all the angst and joy of following your gut and doing what is right and best for you.

At first, when I first started reading the book, within the first few chapters it became obvious that this Rita Stradling was somewhat inspired by Pride and PrejudiceHowever, despite this sense of plot deja-vu, there was enough character and world building within the story – especially through side characters – that Henchgirl still felt like its own story and not just taking Austen’s characters and putting them in a more modern and magical setting.

Dakota lives in a world where basically the descendants of dragons walk the earth and rule with a few places that are solely for humans. It’s really interesting to see the dynamics between the humans and those that are considered non-human. At some points, I never knew if I was pro-human or pro-magic because there are extremists on both ends who are in positions of high power and influence. You have the dragons who either use humans or part humans solely for reproductive means and then you have humans who will kill their own children, whether or not they did something wrong if they are thought to be one of the “infected”. There are just several levels of discrimination happening in this book, even amongst those on the same side that really adds depth to the character and the plot.

I did worry that Dakota would seem too much like a Mary Sue, or the “too perfect heroine” but I believe that Stradling did a decent job of either shifting the reader’s focus to another character or was able to show Dakota as what she is – a 16 year old girl trying to balance a lot on her plate. The romance is somewhat admittedly cliche but honestly I would be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for more Dakota and Wyvern moments in the next book. Along with being interested in seeing where the romantic elements will be taken in the series, there are many moments where I sensed foreshadowing or future development of the certain parts (like who was behind the initial attack of Dakota’s father) that get me really excited for the next book.

Overall, I really enjoyed Henchgirl and could not put it down because it was an entertaining read. I look forward to seeing how Rita Stradling develops not only Dakota and Wyvern in the next book but also the side characters like certain members of Dakota’s family like her sister or her friend (don’t want to say which one in cause it’s kind of a spoiler) who goes through some pretty traumatic life changes. There’s just a a lot of side characters that I would love to learn more about. Anyway, if you like fantasy young adult books, give Henchgirl a shot!

I received a copy of this book from the NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

What do you all think? Have you read Henchgirl already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.

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