I’ve been following Sarah Rodriguez Pratt’s blog, That’s a Girl’s Car, for a long time now, and when she contacted me about reviewing her book, I was thrilled to accept.
Choose Your Weapon, the first book in the Helen of Hollingsworth Trilogy, is the story of a dragon-slaying high school girl trying to find her identity.
As a child, Helen loved the Glorious Dragonfighter books. She also knew something that most people did not. The world of Erwingdon isn’t just a fantasy, and people from our own world travel there in their sleep to help fight dragons. Recruiting warriors from our world is better, of course, because if someone dies in Erwingdon, they only die there, and not in real life. Helen was supposed to join the ranks of the warriors and become a Dragonfighter, but then one night, all communication with Erwingdon stopped. Years pass, and Helen loses touch with her nerdy interests because she sees them as incompatible with having a social life in high school.
Out of the blue, Helen is summoned back to Erwingdon. The land is under threat by powerful dragons, and the people there have again called upon our world for aid. Helen is grateful to be back, but not so thrilled that her new comrades are people she knows from school. Helen must discover her own inner strength and learn to get along with her classmates in order to have any hope of saving the world.
Choose Your Weapon is kind of like Narnia for teenagers, but without the whole Jesus-lion-allegory thing. Helen’s got the same issues a normal teenager does. She feels like her interests aren’t good enough and that she can’t speak out in classes and still fit in. She’s got a crush on the head of the academic quiz team, but doesn’t know how to act on it. She’s also just lost her best friend, who ditched her to hang out with the dance team. Helen also has problems in Erwingdon. She’s not particularly athletic, and fighting dragons requires a lot of coordination. She’s also the only girl.
I liked the fact that Helen was awkward and yet believable. She’s the kind of teenager that a lot of us remember being, and I was constantly rooting for her as she began to come into her own. Choose Your Weapon focuses on finding one’s inner strength rather than succumbing to peer pressure and apologizing for being oneself, and that’s an important lesson for teens and grown-ups alike.
This book rocks! Sarah is a sophisticated and talented new writer, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.