Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
It shouldn't surprise me how easy it is to tell how much work and time an author put into a book. The first book in this series felt like she took a lot of time with it, carefully considered all the sentences and wording, had multiple people editing (beta reading) it for her. This book felt nothing like that. Often times the wording was redundant (not an actual quote, but like "Happily she went to do it happily") and there was actual editing left in the text (quote: "We headed to the circle of command tents, to find servants and a few riders were wearily dragging camp chairs out to a cleared area/an area they were clearing.").
But I could have stuck with the book through that, if the story and characters had been as good as the first book. Instead of feeling like real people as they had in the first book, in this one they felt like just their main trait -- the girl was driven to the point of being obsessed, the boy was in love with her and would go along with whatever stupid schemes she came up with. There was nothing else to them.
While that was bad, it wasn't the final straw that made me drop this book before finishing it. As often happens in YA books, there was a "Snape" character -- a teacher who was "mean" to all the kids (hard on them), no kids like, probably evil, etc. We got to learn more of his background (he had been a dragon rider when he was younger, but his dragon died, he got badly hurt in the same event, and then his partner dragon rider killed himself over it). Is that reason to be hard onto kids? It could be, sure, maybe he didn't want the same thing to happen to them. Does it make him understandably bitter? Especially when he's working around dragons and people who can ride? Yes. The obsessed main character girl was certain this teacher was the bad guy, and it just depressed me too much. It wasn't fair to him! (Yeah, it's understandable the girl could have been wrong (or right), but I just did not want to read about it.)
I did something I have never ever done before -- I skipped to the end of the book to try to discover if the teacher was or wasn't the bad guy. It was really a lose-lose situation for me, neither outcome would have made me happy. I skimmed through the last couple chapters, but couldn't find the answer, and eventually decided I just didn't care enough to continue to try to find out.
I do still recommend the first book (especially at 99 cents), but I can't the second, and I won't be picking up the third.
Currently reading: Horses of the Dawn by Kathryn Lasky. A book with a great cover, but animal characters that know just way too much and aren't very animal-ish. (The horses, who had never been on a ship before, knew more technical terms for parts of the ship than I myself did!)