Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C Wrede
Although Dealing With Dragons is definitely geared towards a younger audience, I enjoyed the simple language and accessibility of the writing. Cimorene, the main character, is spunky and sassy, and she is genre-savvy in an altogether refreshing way. In fact, I think that was the main reason I enjoyed this book so much: the author isn’t afraid to openly acknowledge common tropes and plot devices, and to occasionally turn them on their heads.
I appreciated Cimorene’s independent nature, too. Rather than submitting to outside influences and entering into a life that she truly knows is not for her, she takes her future into her own hands. Cimorene refuses to let the handsome prince rescue her and sweep her off to a happily ever after: she saves the day herself (with a little help from her friends). She is headstrong and intelligent. The brevity of the book doesn’t give much of a chance to see what’s going on inside her head, but considering that same shortness, you get an amazing view of Cimorene’s competency. Seriously, once the action gets started, it doesn’t stop until the book is over.
The dialogue is pretty funny – sometimes very witty. The characters are original and enjoyable. If I’d read it when I was younger, I’d probably rate it with all 5 stars. As it is, I read it from start to finish in a couple hours. I’d definitely recommend it for pre-teen/early teen readers!
Dragon’s Milk – Susan Fletcher
Another YA dragon-themed book… April might just be turning into my dragon month! Anyway, Dragon’s Milk has a lot going right. The main character – Kaeldra – is intelligent and sympathetic. She’s tall and gangly and awkward, as so many teen girls are. She faces some tough choices and difficult decisions and handles it maturely. I particularly enjoyed the draclings – baby dragons – mostly because they acted like babies. They mostly ate and slept for the first half of the book, and they developed more intelligence and coordination as they aged.
I also appreciated the tragedy involved in some parts of the novel. The characters make mistakes, and – just like in life – some of those mistakes have consequences. The author doesn’t shy away from those consequences, so as the characters go through dangerous situations, the reader really feels the danger the characters are in.
My biggest complaint, I think, is that the romance felt stilted and improbable. The two characters didn’t interact much through the majority of the novel, so the romance and, ultimately, the epilogue, felt forced and unrealistic. If there had been more interaction between the characters, or less of a time skip between the last chapter and the epilogue, I may have found the relationship more believable.