Sunday, October 28, 2012
Boy and his dragon
I read this book because it was recommended by a friend who gave me an appreciation for Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. I was looking for new authors to read (as usual) and was contemplating other genres than those I am comfortable with. So when she told that Robin McKinley is super awesome and I should try her, I looked for her books in the place where I rent the fodder for my habit. To my delighted surprise, they do have two books by her and I took this one.
I like dragons. I like the mythology of dragons, be it Asian or European. Sadly I don't get many (try almost none) books about Africa, African mythology (that is non Egyptian, that is) or written by Africans. Do they have dragons in Africa? I suppose they should.
But I digress.
This book was written almost diary-like, but more like a mental diarrhoea. The time stamps were only mentioned in passing, and the voice was completely written from a single point of view of the protagonist. This isn't necessarily bad; I like a lot of books written in the first person from a singular point of view. But the protagonist started off as a fifteen year old boy who thinks in sentences the length of an average paragraph. There was a great deal of emotional urgency in many parts of the book, particularly elucidating his bond with the dragonlet he adopted. I suppose that it is the only way to convey how intense and unusual the bond was considering biology and psychosocial adaptation (this is my personal brand of psychobabble).
However, I find this style of writing tiring to read. The story line was actually very interesting and gave me food for thought about people and non-human creatures and our relationship with them in this shrinking world. We humans think that as the vicegerent of the planet, it is only our plans and our convenience that matters when making decisions affecting other non-human life forms. This brand of arrogance is awful and often comes to a bad end, not just for the non-humans, but us as well.
I did finish the book, just so that I could wade through what the author had in mind for the perpetuation of the dragons. It took me ... three weeks of off-and-on reading? It was still tiring. I didn't like it that twenty odd year old Jake still thinks in sentence structures and vocabulary of the fifteen year old. I didn't like it that adult Jake didn't seem to make the leap towards thinking like, well, an adult. I also didn't quite like how self-absorbed Jake was from beginning till the end of the book. The other human characters are just like window dressing to give the story some extra dimension. There was greater character development for the dragons than for any of the humans. It's like the other human characters are just there to give support to Jake and very little else. I don't know, it just feels weird to me.
But if you are in it for a glorious story about a boy and his dragon, then this book is it. If you are character driven, the way I am, you probably wouldn't enjoy it as much. The pace is too slow for my taste and the only enjoyment I got at the end of the book is the sense of accomplishment that I finished the damned thing.
Protagonist: 2/5 stars
Storyline: 3.5/5 stars
Pacing: 1/5 stars
Fun Factor: 2/5 stars
Repeat Reading Factor: 1/5 stars (only if I was stranded somewhere and had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE to read)