Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
Wow. Just… wow. This book was so intense, so wonderful. I just can’t even express how much I love it.
Let’s start with the world building WHICH IS FREAKING AMAZING. The world of BEFORE SHE IGNITES is heavily reminiscent of earth, but full of fantastical dragons and legends enough to fuel a million stories. We don’t explore much of it in this book, but sheesh I would but a book that does. It’s so complex and there’s so much left to explore.
On it’s own, this is a WONDERFUL fantasy novel. But what really pushed it to 5-star, hall of fame, favorites shelf level was the featuring of mental illness. The main character, Mira, suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. (Note: as someone with anxiety, nothing in this book was triggering to me, but everyone’s triggers are different, so just be careful because it does get very intense!) This novel also features a coping mechanism, which is something I haven’t seen before, even in contemporaries. I can’t personally speak on Mira’s use of counting to cope, as it isn’t a method that I use, but I feel like Jodi Meadows really thought through all of the different things featured in this book(main character is a WOC, plus there’s mental illness.) featuring anxiety in a fantasy novel wasn’t something I have read before, and I feel like it was such a great addition, as it heightens the relatability of the characters and story world. It’s something a lot of people suffer from, and it was so great to see that representation.
Most of the book takes place in the Pit, which is like the worst place in the universe. The scenes there are so intense and the whole place felt so real.
Something I want to talk about is how this book is absolutely wonderful and inspirational. The plot is amazing, but the character development is just… stunning. Mira was conditioned to a certain way of action, of thinking, and it was so inspirational to see her break through… and ignite! (A few of my fave quotes below(taken from my uncorrected proof and therefore it is possible they will change before the final copy is released))
“There is strength,” he said slowly, “in knowing when to speak, and when to listen.” His hands stayed on his chest, motionless. “And when to say nothing at all.”
::Strength through silence.::
“Love does no harm.”
I just.. I love this book so freaking much. LIKE Y’ALL
THERE’S THIS GUY AND HE’S WONDERFUL AND DELIGHTFUL AND I LOVE HIM AND HE’S MINE BTW oh who am I talking about? OBVIOUSLY I’M TALKING ABOUT AARU. he’s just so precious and wonderful and I NEED HIM IN MY LIFE HELLO.
I can’t even review anymore these feels are just TOO MUCH
So to recap! This book is a deliciously written fantasy set in a gorgeous story world that feels utterly real, with a main character whose arc is absolutely stunning. aka: READ IT