Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel AaronNice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers #1
Published by Author on July 14, 14
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Mystery, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 315
Source: Author

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons...

Recently, as in two days ago, I actually got to meet Rachel Aaron/Bach in person, which was super awesome. As a result, I got to learn a bit more about this book and the choices that she made. For example, I’ll admit I’m always curious when an author goes from traditional publishing to self-publishing. In this case, Rachel simply wanted to try out the freedom of self-publishing. Plus, it allowed her the freedom of genrebending to her heart’s content, which is much genrebending. Though I’m not as in love so far with the Heartstrikers series as I was with her Paradox trilogy, I definitely enjoyed Nice Dragons Finish Last and it’s got some seriously fun and unique flair.

The title of Nice Dragons Finish Last, aside from putting Green Day in my head for the past three days, is also very accurate to the basic plot of the book. Though Nice Dragons Finish Last is in third person, our central character is Julius, a fuckup of a dragon. See, dragons are all about taking what they want and hoarding and conniving and domination. Julius, though, mostly just wants to sit in his room and learn things. He really doesn’t like being a dragon and doesn’t get why his massive family has to be so mean all the time.

To kickstart the series and Julius, his mother Bethesda, kicks Julius out of the nest, or, more accurately, out of a plane. She also seals him in his human form. He’s got a mission: to act more like a dragon within a short time frame or to no longer be in existence. Dragon moms are really serious when they say that since they brought you into this world, they can take you back out of it. Due to family shenanigans and plots, Julius ends up teamed with a human mage, Marci, his brother Justin, his seer brother Bob, and his brother Ian to try to find a missing dragon from another family.

Nice Dragons Finish Last has a lot of action. It’s very visual and would orient itself well to a movie. There are explosions and battles and magic spells. If there’s something that seems fairly consistent through Rachel Aaron/Bach’s works, it’s that she likes a good action scene. As such, Nice Dragons Finish Last moves at a brisk pace once Julius and Marci hook up and the plot gets moving.

The world building in Nice Dragons Finish Last is some of the strangest I’ve come across, which I don’t mean in a bad way. It’s actually really hard for me to quantify this series. Rachel Aaron says urban fantasy, which is certainly true, but usually that means an actual city with fantasy elements. Well, the story is set in Detroit, but it’s in a futuristic, dystopian Detroit which is ruled by a spirit who drowned original Detroit for being so polluted. So yeah, it’s a bit different. I don’t quite have everything straight in my head, but I do find the world building, while sometimes puzzling, quite intriguing.

What Heartstrikers doesn’t have yet is my emotional engagement. There’s a ship, but I’m not particularly into it. The characters are interesting and ragtag. I enjoy reading about them, but any of them could die at any point and I wouldn’t be even tempted to cry or hurl the book across the room in a fit of feels. Nice Dragons Finish Last is a good set up for the series to come, I think, but it’s not really taken off as yet.

Nice Dragons Finish Last may not have been everything I was anticipating, but it was solidly entertaining and gets bonus points for being so unique. I’ll definitely be checking back in for the next book in the series, which Rachel said would be five to seven books long.

Favorite Quote:

“What’s wrong?” Marci asked.

“There’s been a great disturbance in the Force,” Bob said gravely. “As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

Her eyes widened. “Really?”


Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Most dragons be like:
gif dragon sleeping beauty
Julius be like:
gif toothless how to train your dragon

3 responses to “Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron”

  1. The worldbuilding actually reminds me of the Kate Daniels series (dystopian, futuristic Atlanta full of paranormal creatures), which is great. I received this for review and started it last night. So far I’m liking it, but your review further convinced me that it’s the right read for me.

  2. Heather says:

    This takes place in Detroit?! I’ll definitely have to read it 🙂

    OMG, it’s Chaucerface, I mean, Toothless!

  3. Meg says:


    (Very excited about more Rachel AaronBach, in case that wasn’t coming across)
    Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery Gets Personal: Who’s the Boss? (3)My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge