I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Henchgirl by Rita Stradling
Release date: January 12th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
Dakota’s life is not ideal but it is manageable, until the rich and famous half-dragon, Wyvern Manderson, shows up and starts sabotaging Dakota’s missions. And for some bewildering reason, he is always angry at her.
Within days of Wyvern’s arrival, Dakota is suspended from future missions and in desperate need of money. When Wyvern offers to hire Dakota to find his kidnapped human half-sister, she accepts despite knowing she’ll have to spend all day, every day, with Wyvern and his gigantic ego. 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.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Dragon and human crossbreds? Were-tigers? Vampires? Magically abilities and the mafia? The idea seemed a little out there for me, but boy was I wrong. I absolutely loved this book! It focuses on Dakota, a teenaged girl who has the special ability to see into people’s souls. Her life is essentially controlled by her grandfather (a powerful dracon) and the leader of the mafia, who has Dakota use her ability to coerce people into doing his bidding. This all changes when the humans begin to rise up against the dracons.
What I liked:
- The pace was fast and the plot held your attention. Like, I need to stay up all night good! I did and the struggle to stay awake at work was totally worth it.
- Dakota was a wonderful protagonist – intelligent, sarcastic, sensitive and completely believable. The author did a really good job describing her dysfunctional family, plus they were very entertaining! Dakota’s mother was despicable and I wanted to scream at her. How could you let your child wander into such danger? I identified with her as a character and understood Dakota’s loyalty to her family (no matter how imperfect they were) and her willingness to do anything to protect those she loves.
- The world building really stood out to me. This book is truly unique or at least it’s nothing like what I have read before.
- Dakota’s ability or power was really interesting. Being able to see into someone’s soul, just having such power over someone, stood out. I also appreciated how Dakota struggled with her power. She knew the evils of it and how it could be used by others. It was a constant struggle for her to be able to see and feel things others couldn’t.
What I didn’t like:
- The relationship between Dakota and Wyvern has been labeled as abusive and controlling (think Twilight), which is never alright. Why can’t more YA books have positive/healthy relationships for the female lead characters? However, I do see why Wyvern was characterized this way. Dracon society is extremely sexist with females only used for reproduction and marriage. There’s also the whole when a Dracon makes a promise to protect someone, they are honour bound to lay down their life for that person. I just feel Wyvern could have made more progress throughout the book.
Rita Stradling is currently writing the sequel and I couldn’t be happier. Henchgirl was an excellent adventure and one that I highly recommend!