Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke

Blazing the Trail
Author: Deborah Cooke
Publication: NAL Trade (June 5, 2012)

Description: From the author of the Dragonfire Novels comes a new series about the next generation of shape-shifting dragons—they’re ready to lead their pack.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Zoë Sorensson’s love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it’s like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can’t help but wish it was rebel rocker Jared asking her to the Valentine’s dance instead. But Jared’s too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next.
Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat that targets her friends. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they’re back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power—they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what—and who—she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…

My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Dragon Diaries series. If you are sensitive to spoilers, you won't want to read beyond the first paragraph. For new readers, then, this is a series whose main character Zoë is the only female dragon shifter and who is also sixteen. Both would cause enough problems on their own but add in a group of human mages who are determined to wipe out all the remaining shifters and Zoë and her friends have lots of extra pressure.

Things should be going well for Zoë. She and her friends have managed to defeat the adult Mages by destroying their hive mind and capturing the NightBlade which deprived any remaining mages of their power. She has formed an alliance with the wolves, the cats, and the Thunderbirds to destroy the NightBlade. Her best friend Meagan had discovered that she has magical powers as a spellsinger and learned about Zoë being a dragon shifter. Zoë has gotten her driver's license and the use of her mom's car while her parents are on vacation.

But all is not rosy, Zoë still has to deal with the school bully Suzanne who is sure that Zoë is keeping secrets. She has to deal with Trevor who is an apprentice mage and determined to carry on with the Mages' goals. Trevor is determined to release the ShadowEaters and become one too. She has boyfriend troubles too. She is torn between Derek who is a wolf shifter and who is sweet, thoughtful, protective, quiet and intense but who likes Zoë more than she likes him and Jared who is older, a rebel, a member of a rock band, a spellsinger, and who blows hot and cold leaving Zoë confused about whatever sort of relationship they might have.  Zoë is also just coming into her Wyvern powers and they seem more confusing than helpful right now. 

This story is full of adventure and danger as Zoë and company have to find a way to defeat the ShadowEaters and destroy the NightBlade. Zoë also has to find a way to keep her alliance together when jealousy, secrets, and conflicting goals try to destroy it. 

I really like Zoë's voice in this one. She is a pretty realistic sixteen-year-old with the added problem of learning to be the Wyvern for the dragon shifters. She is constantly switching between mundane problems like homework and exotic problems like the threat to wipe out all shifters. As the story is told in the first person, we really get to see all of Zoë. I enjoyed her quirky voice and her asides to the readers. 

I think readers will love getting to know Zoë and will be rooting for her to solve all the problems. Because I think this series hasn't received as much publicity as many of the other paranormal series, this is one series that I will be promoting in my high school media center this fall. 

Favorite Quote:
"I'm trying to apologize," said Derek, sounding a bit hesitant.

"Try harder," I suggested, but my own tone had softened. "I made a mistake and I know it. I won't do it again. Don't you think tasting death was enough negative reinforcement?"
I bought this one. You can buy a copy here.

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