- Publication Date: October 11, 2016
- Previous Book: Henchgirl
- Fiction, fantasy, dragons, magic, modern times
- Warnings: First person POV. Teenage angst mixed with the constant threat of someone wanting to kill the main character.
“In seventeen year old Dakota Kekoa’s line of work, a job can go bad in a split second.
And when a job goes bad, people die.
Suspended from working as a tax collector in her draconic family’s protection racket, Dakota is assigned a secret mission from her grandfather. A foreign queen has offered a grave insult to Dakota’s grandfather by running a vampire dinner cruise off the coast of the Mabiian Islands, and his retribution must be swift.
Yet, when Dakota infiltrates the ship ‘Crimson Sunset’, nothing is at it seems. In a split second, not only is Dakota in deathly peril, all of New Anglo is on the road to war.”
Rex is the second book in Rita Stradling’s Dakota Kekoa series with Henchgirl being the first. I read Henchgirl and really enjoyed the spy meets dragons meets Pride and Prejudice. Henchgirl wasn’t perfect but like with all first books in a series I eagerly waited for the next installment hoping that some of the flaws in the first book would be fixed in the second book. That wasn’t necessarily the case with Rex.
I had been eagerly looking forward to Rex for months and was beyond excited to finally read it. I was looking forward to being returned to the perspective of Dakota and learn more about her family and her world and other things that the first book wasn’t really able to delve too deep into. Though we did get some of that in the book – and maybe even visited another world – I was really looking forward to some major character development for many of the characters that we were introduced to us in the first book. Instead, we got more characters, with some of the characters from the first book either conveniently in another country away from the action, magically teleporting uncontrollably from place to place, in vampire jail, or just kind of barely mentioned. There were more than a few characters that I was really excited to see flourish in the second book, Dakota (the kick butt part dragon main character) and Wyvern (her smug, over confident main love interest) included, and instead the book felt too crowded with barely memorable new characters.
One example of this is a possible new love interest for Dakota, a vampire named Harrison who is also basically Wyvern’s best friend (but Dakota didn’t know that when she first met him). Putting the fact that there’s another vampire love interest out there in the YA genre, I was somewhat excited for Harrison. I wasn’t excited because he was obviously a new love interest but because he was obviously a representation of Stradling’s world expanding. Usually when the reader learns more about the world they’re reading, there’s another added layer of depth. However, Harrison came off as kind of flat, not really interesting, and his initial meeting with Dakota came off as very…awkward. I mean, they’re on a boat where humans willingly let vampires suck their blood. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by the awkwardness of the situation but sometimes it felt like I was reading a fanfiction that had so much initial promise and then the author decided to write some hackneyed lust-at-first-sight situation with little to no build up. Also, as a potential love interest – because his “I have a girlfriend”excuse seemed super flimsy – he just seemed super flat compared to Dakota’s initial love interest Wyvern (though even he seemed somewhat stagnant in this book).
The main character, Dakota, also felt off. I was rooting for her in the last book when she decided she wanted to take her life and value as a person into her own hands instead of letting her extended family members or the handsome, rich, and powerful Wyvern just walk over her. However, in Rex, Dakota at some parts kind of comes off as a whiny brat and not the super cool “henchgirl” we met in the first book. There were so many times where I was reading and wanted to say to her, “Okay, this is really stupid. You’re smarter than this. Are you on something right now because this is really stupid, Dakota, and Wyvern for once is actually making sense so…” I will admit, this book may be one of those instances that since I’m no longer a teen I just can’t relate to her as a teenager reading this would.
I will say that the “bad guy” did take awhile for me to guess and it wasn’t until about maybe a page or two before the characters realized who the “bad guy” was that I finally figured it out. Also, Dakota’s and Wyvern’s “dress-up” scenes at the museum were my favorite part of the books just because of how cute I imagined them to be.
Overall, Rex just seemed a little flat compared to its predecessor and though Dakota’s world did widen, it still feels very surface level. I’m hoping with the next book we’ll get to spend a bit more time with characters that seemed hardly present in Rex for whatever reason and that if this love triangle does continue between Dakota, Wyvern, and Harrison that it at least doesn’t seemed as forced as it does in this book. I’m also hoping that Dakota will develop a bit more and do some significant growing in the next book.
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 Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday/Weekend Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.