Plot: Jakkin is a 14 year old bonder (like an indentured servant whose indenture depends on him buying his own way free) who steals a baby dragon to raise as a pit fighter, one of the only ways to earn enough money to buy freedom. Bonders each wear a leather bag around their neck, to hold the gold coins that they earn towards their freedom.
The main thing that struck me as interesting is the treatment of girls in the society she describes. None of the bonders who work with dragons are female. There is one older, free woman who serves as a cook; there are a few mentions of Jakkin's mother, who died when he was small, from grief after her husband was killed by a feral dragon; and Akki, a girl who works for the healers.
The main role for females in this society, as we are shown it, is working in the Baggeries. "Some of the older bond boys spent their time and gold at the Baggeries as well, where girls waited to be filled like empty bags," (p. 8). This rather took me aback. From a worldbuilding point of view, I can easily see this happening in the society as described. But if I'd been reading this in eighth grade, how would I have felt? Would I have appreciated the Baggeries as a nice, realistic, gritty detail, or would I have been angry? I'm curious about why Yolen chose to do this in a YA novel, and how it got by, and if a writer could have a similar setup in today's publishing market. I wonder, also, if this wasn't intended to be YA, but was marketed that way anyway.
Otherwise, I'm reading Edith Layton's The Devil's Bargain.