Flying Blind is the first in Deborah Cooke’s Dragon Diaries series, the young adult spinoff of her Dragonfire paranormal romance novels. The Dragon Diaries are set in the near future, and the heroine and her peers are the children of the protagonists of the Dragonfire books.
Zoë Sorensson has always been told she has a great destiny: she is the Wyvern, which means she’s the only female Pyr (dragon shapeshifter) of her generation, and is supposed to have certain powers beneficial to her fellow Pyr. Trouble is, those powers haven’t manifested yet — at least not until she jumps to the defense of a bullied friend and undergoes an incomplete shift in the process. Partially as a punishment for shifting in front of humans, and partially to help her develop her powers, Zoë’s dad sends her to Pyr boot camp with a group of other young Pyr.
Deborah Cooke does a lot of things right in Flying Blind, subverting some tropes that have become clichés. The concept of fated love appears, for example, but not at all in the way you might expect. Cooke also strikes a good balance between the teen and adult characters, letting the former save the day without painting the latter as incompetent.
Unfortunately, the boot camp section seems to drag and can be annoying. Zoë and the other young Pyr spend most of this time bickering, having drama, and acting like jerks. After a while, I didn’t like any of them much, including Zoë. [Minor SPOILER, here, highlight if you want to see it:] It turns out there is a reason for this, and all of these characters are better people than they appear in these scenes. It doesn’t make it any less annoying when you’re in the thick of it, though. [END SPOILER]
The story picks up momentum again when the teens discover a plot against their fathers and against the Pyr race as a whole. There are plenty of twists and revelations, and a suspenseful battle in which everyone’s skills are tested.
The ending evoked irritation again, though. One twist makes it look like future books will focus (at least in part) on whether Zoë chooses to lose her virginity and the magical consequences of that choice. I’m weary of plots that tie sexuality to the threat of metaphysical disaster. In adult urban fantasy the heroine often has to have sex to avert calamity, and in YA she usually has to not have sex, but either way, I wish more heroines got to make these choices based on their own values and desires instead. Also, there’s a character who leaves the scene abruptly after the battle, and it seems more like an authorial decision to create tension for the next book rather than what this character would actually do at that moment.
Flying Blind has some good points but also some annoying ones. Young adult readers tired of destined true loves and moronic parents may find Flying Blind right up their alley, though.
Dragon Diaries — (2011-2012) Young adult. Here’s the Dragon Diaries website. Publisher: The next generation of shape-shifting dragons from the popular author of the Dragonfire novels. Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she’s been told she’s destined for great things. Zoë’s the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she’s sent to a Pyr boot camp. Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line — unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.