Please note that I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion for my review in any way.
Synopsis (From GoodReads):Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.
When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.
Review:When I saw Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might be Half-Dragon by Rena Rocford on NetGalley, I immediately fell in love with the cover and title. Dragons? Acne? This looked like a fun book. On a hunch, I put in my request and it was luckily granted. My instinct paid off as it was a very fun read.
I enjoyed the friendship between Allyson and Beth. Both are outcasts and when Allyson moves to Albuquerque, they quickly become friends. Beth turns out to be half Troll, so when Allyson turns fifteen and starts to show strange abilities (like breathing fire), Beth is there to reassure her that she is not going crazy. I also liked that Beth was not just a side-kick to Allyson, but had her own story and romantic interest. They have a great rapport and tease each other when boys flirt with them. Loved it!
Allyson goes to great lengths to hide her acne (and later, her scales). I could see how these are an analogy for the not being comfortable with your true self. As Allyson starts to understand that she is half dragon, she starts to let go of worrying about what people think of her, and embraces her heritage. The character is also half Japanese. This aspect of her life wasn't explored much in the book, but I hope it will be part of any sequel.
If there is one criticism I would have, it would be that the book needed a bit more exposition in the beginning. There were times where I was lost because I didn't have enough information to know what was happening. I suppose that we, the readers, were to be as confused as Allyson about what was happening. But I wish I could have understood a few basic things like how can there be magical creatures such as trolls, unicorns, and dragons, and yet they look like everyone else? Shouldn't Allyson be more freaked out, especially since no one will explain anything? If I could have understood some of the rules of this universe, I would have been able to buy in to the story faster.
Overall, I found this a delightful fantasy. The action made it a page-turner as I needed to find out how it would all turn out. It makes me want to read more about this universe and find out what further abilities each character has.
Release Date: November 23rd, 2015
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Recommendation: A fun read for fans of YA fantasy!
Would I read more from this author? Yes!