FIREBORNE is a new YA fantasy that follows two teens, Lee and Anna (Antigone) in alternating points-of-view. Lee and Anna came from the same orphanage but with vastly different histories, and bonded during their time there. Their country is still in turmoil after a revolution to overthrow the previous government of dragonlords created a new structure. The dragonlords and their families subjugated the people with their dragons, which were also supposed to keep the people safe. They and their families were all killed in the revolution- or they were thought to have been.
Leo was a young boy and was almost killed but saved unexpectedly and then forgotten, assuming a different name (Lee) and not speaking about his past. Anna was a peasant who suffered under the old regime and has a bit of a troubled relationship with Lee- he has been there for her, but his father subjected her to a horrible ordeal and left her an orphan. The new government is predicated on everyone having an equal chance to rise, and so they are both now dragonriders and contending for the highest position of Firstrider.
The best part of the book are the philosophical discussions/implications about politics and what makes people good/evil, presenting both sides of a revolution. As Lee begins to choose for himself the future, he must confront his family, the new government and its imperfections. This provides some really interesting and deep thoughts about governments, rebellions, and all the gray areas of politics between black and white.
I have some mixed feelings about the book, because while some things were done really well, I found it difficult to really get into. Some of this was probably because of the repetitiveness of some ideas/discussions. It almost gets a little too deep into Lee and Anna's heads in places, and I like faster paced fantasies, so this may be personal preference. The world-building is really fantastic though, with history, people, and everything being displayed so well- this was a country and people I could certainly imagine.
Overall, this was an intriguing read which provides a platform for some deep thoughts about society and politics/government that make it a strong read. While I would have liked faster pacing, this has a very strongly built world and characters that make it a solid read. I would be interested in continuing with the series. The dragons and history make this quite an intense and thought-provoking read overall.
Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.