The Dragonet Prophecy 4.5 Star Review

13228487Title: The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1)

Author: Tui T. Sutherland

Published: July 21, 2012

Synopsis: Five young dragons raised in secret are the only ones believed to be able to stop the war between the seven dragon tribes. Locked below ground, knowing nothing of the world above, there isn’t much they can do to help the war effort. When the dragonets of prophecy learn that one of there own is threatened, they escape into the wider world where they will be forced  to face their destiny.

Thoughts: This book was my favorite middle grade fantasy novel I read in 2015. Admittedly, I only read eight middle grade novels last year so I’m not sure if that’s saying much. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I really enjoyed this novel.

Dragons have always been a fascination of mine. When I was younger I went through a phase where I was obsessed dragons, and dragon books in particular.

Part of the reason I rated this book so highly is due to the fact that had I read it while being a member of the intended audience there is little doubt this could have become one of my favorite books of all time. This is something I take into consideration while reviewing middle grade books.

As it was, this book caused me to start sketching dragons the way I used to all the time when I was around twelve.

I try to go out of my way to find books written from nonhuman perspectives. It seems often that when authors try to write from the perspectives of aliens or mythological creatures they often fall into writing about creatures that appear to be whatever the author claims they are, but act human.

There are reasons for this, primarily relating to the fact that its easier to make someone care about someone else if they have something in common with that other person/creature, and the fact that it is easier for the authors to write from a perspective closer to their own. However, in the rare instances when inhuman perspectives are written very well I really enjoy them. I felt that the way the dragons narrated this novel was one of these rare exceptions.

In spite of my praise for this novel’s choice of perspective, it was not without flaws. The plot is fairly standard for a fantasy novel. It involves a mysterious prophecy in which our five main characters are the chosen ones destined to save the world.

What readers should know: For a middle grade novel this book is fairly violent as it involves dragons who act like dragons. There are minor human characters killed by dragons and dragons killed by other dragons.

Rating: This was an enjoyable middle grade fantasy novel.

4.5 blue jays

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Review: 4 Stars

20578940Title: The Iron Trial

Authors: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

Publication date: September 9, 2014

Genre: Middle Grade Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Most children will do anything to get into magic school. Not twelve-year-old Call, he wants to fail. Call grew up being told mages and magic were evil and the cause of his mother’s death. The last thing Call wants to hear is that he has an affinity for magic. Call does everything in his power to fail the Iron Trial, the test to get into magic trial, and he does. Call has the lowest score in the Trial’s history.

When it is determined Call failed on purpose he is forced to go to magic school anyway. There Call will discover the truth about his past. The real reason his mother was found dead next to a message that read “kill the child” all those years before.

Review: I have been reading many classics lately and am planning to start more soon, but I really needed to read something light and fun before reading another. This book was what I was looking for.

Most middle grade novels I read I find predictable, but not so with this book. I had always thought a somewhat predictable plot was necessary for middle grade novels so I am interested to learn more about how this book was received by its intended audience.

Call is a bit of an antihero. This is something I haven’t seen before in the middle grade novels I’ve read. Call still has many redeeming qualities the reader can sympathize with including his loyalty to his friends, and love of animals, especially one animal in particular. I don’t have entirely positive comments about Call. Sometimes his decisions seemed illogical as though he was acting purely to move the plot further, but for the most part this was something I was able to overlook.

I feel that in most middle grade novels Call’s friend Aaron would be the main character. His personalty and back story as an orphan is more like what I have come to expect from a middle grade protagonist.

I have heard a lot of comparisons between this book and Harry Potter, and throughout the book I was reminded of that series, but I feel J. K. Rowling’s world building was more complex and thought out than the world building in this book. While I do feel that this book was inspired by Harry Potter it was different enough that I don’t feel there are any plagiarism issues.

What readers should know: Most of the violence is confined to the prologue, and even there the story starts after the battle was fought and all the reader sees is what remains afterwards. One secondary character does die, but this death isn’t extremely detailed or emotionally impactful.

Rating: I give this book 4 out of 5 for an interesting plot twist and an entertaining story. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a light, quick read who doesn’t mind the resemblance to Harry Potter.

4 blue jays

The Spindlers Book Review

Title: The Spindlers

Author: Lauren Oliver

Release Date: October 2nd 2012

Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy

Format: Audio Book

Synopsis: When Liza wakes up one morning to discover that her brother’s soul has been taken by the spider-like spindlers she knows that the only way to save him will be to descend Below. The only problem is that in a land so strange and vast as Below how can Liza possibly hope to rescue her brother’s soul in time?

Review: Before reading The Spindlers the only books I’d read by Lauren Oliver were the Delirium Trilogy. I was nervous about having expectations that might be too high for this book as it was middle grade and I had feared aspects from the author’s YA writing would not transfer, but thankfully Lauren Oliver did not disappoint. Another concern of mine was that the whole concept of “Below” sounded too much like the underland from Suzanne Collin’s The Underland Chronicles. Thankfully, the characters and the overall feel of Below differed enough that the two settings ended up feeling separate and not at all like copies of one another. This book was reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland with the whole concept of a young girl finding her way to a somewhat creepy and complex world she previously knew nothing about.

I enjoyed the whole concept of Below. The world Lauren Oliver crafted with all of the creatures living underground felt extremely complex and well thought out. There were  nids, troglods, scawgs, and of course spindlers. Additionally, there was also a talking, makeup wearing rat named Mirabella who was Liza’s constant companion on her quest for her brother Patrick.The relationship between siblings was portrayed extremely well through Liza and Patrick in Liza’s flashbacks of their interaction. Liza’s determination to save her brother was admirable and brought out her character.

As usual, Lauren Oliver’s prose was beautiful as illustrated by my favorite quotes from this story which I plan to share below. Unfortunatly, I found the overall story line to be predictable, but that’s not an unusual characteristic where the story lines of most middle grade novels are concerned. Overall though, this was a very fun read.

I listened to this in audio book form with my younger brothers who normally hate reading. They both found the story intriguing and to my surprise the youngest of the two (who falls into the recommended age range for this book) was soon asking for the audio book to play more and more. Listening to the book with them was very appropriate considering that this is a book about a girl on a quest to save her younger brother and I think that aspect made me have a greater appreciation for the story as a whole. Experiencing the book this way also supported the notion that this book would be found enjoyable by the intended audience.

Quotes: “Liza made a sudden decision. “I’ll be your friend,” she announced. she had trouble speaking the words but was glad once she had spoken them. She did not really want to be friends with an enormous rat of questionable sanity, but it seemed the right thing to say.”

“That was what her parents did not understand—and had never understood—about stories. Liza told herself stories as though she was weaving and knotting an endless rope. Then, no matter how dark or terrible the pit she found herself in, she could pull herself out, inch by inch and hand over hand, on the long rope of stories.”

Rating/Recommendation: I recommend this book to children between the ages of eight and twelve or anyone who simply cannot get enough of Lauren Oliver’s beautiful writing style. I give this a 4/5 rating for good prose, and creativity, but a predictable story line.

4 blue jays