Posts Tagged With: dragons

“Choose Your Weapon” by Sarah Rodriguez Pratt

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.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, YA | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman

I received a review copy of Rachel Hartman’s debut novel “Seraphina” from the publishers via NetGalley.  It will be released in July.  Based on the author’s blog, it looks like there’s a sequel in the works.

Dragons and humans were at war for much of history.  Forty years ago, dragons and humans signed a treaty which began an uneasy but mutually beneficial peace between the two races.  Dragons are able to take human form, but whenever they are present in human society they are generally forced to wear bells to prevent the people from being scared.  There is a lot of tension between the two races, which reminded me a lot of what racial tensions were like in the US prior to the civil rights movement.  Seraphina is half-dragon, and she wasn’t supposed to exist.  If anyone finds out, she’s likely to die a horrible death at the hands of an angry mob.

Seraphina has musical talent, which draws attention to herself even as she’s trying to keep her identity secret.  She ends up at the royal court right after a member of the royal family was killed by a rogue dragon trying to destroy the peace.  Seraphina must use what she knows of both human and dragon cultures to be a bridge between the two worlds and to save the peace.

Dragons are mathematical creatures and believe that emotion is a disease.  I liked seeing the awkward interactions between Seraphina and her uncle Orma, a dragon who has allowed himself to develop more feelings than is permitted in dragon society.  Orma’s amusing because even a dragon with emotions is logical and distant to a level that’s not normal in our own society.  Orma was easily my favorite character in the novel.

“Seraphina” is well-written and is a delight to read.  This book is being marketed toward YA audiences, but it would also be appropriate for an advanced younger reader.  All I can say is that more YA should be like this.  There is a minor love triangle, but it’s not obnoxious (minor spoiler:  Seraphina falls in love with the prince, and the prince is betrothed to a princess.  At the same time, he’s not romantically interested in the princess, so it doesn’t have the whole Hunger Games dynamic going on..  It’s more like an additional obstacle that they’re going to have to confront later on).  The story is imaginative and Hartman’s words are articulate.  She doesn’t talk down to her readers, which is something that I’ve always appreciated, even when I was far younger.  I’d highly recommend this book.


I read this book as part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge and the Speculative Fiction Challenge.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, YA | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

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