Friday, April 20, 2012

Voices of dragons by Carrie Vaughn

Kay has lived her life with the knowledge that her town lies on the border of Dragon, the place where dragons have lived since they re-emerged after World War Two.  It is an uneasy peace in a lot of ways, with the local high school holding regular "dragon drills" so the students can practice what to do just in case a dragon swoops down out of the sky and decides to rampage through the town breathing fire.  Not one to let small town living hold her back, Kay spends as much of her time hiking and rock climbing, seeing how close she can get to Dragon without actually crossing over the line.  One day she gets a little too close and finds herself on the wrong side of the border looking up into the face of a real live dragon.

What could have been a disaster turns into a series of encounters, and exchange of information and ideas, a chance for the dragon to practice talking to a human.  Kay is in an awkward position though as both her mum and dad are supposed to keep people away from the border, away from any chance of breaking the peace and causing a war between Dragon and the humans.  It is a heavy burden to keep her secret, but Kay manages to until the day a plane crashes on the wrong side of the border and the military unveils a new kind of weapon that may even the playing field between dragons and humans - a weapon that may enable the people to win the war that is developing with frightening speed.

Voices of dragons is a teen books written by an author who usually writes for adults, and while I loved her adult books (that I have read), this book feels a little too much like they had scaled back the ideas and writing for a teen audience - which always feels a little like a cheap shot at the teen readers.  There is nothing wrong with the story or the writing as such, but at times it feels as though words have been cut out, or thoughts have been side swiped to keep with the length of a traditional teen novel.  The idea is fantastic, and the characters are quite well developed, and the story certainly develops over time, but it still feels a little bit *meh* really. 

There is action, drama, suspense, fantasy, a believable mythology, thought has gone into the story - so it should be a really good read, and for the majority of readers this will be a really enjoyable read, just remember not to expect too much and you will be fine.  Along with dystopian novels there appears to be a trend for authors, particularly in the fantasy genre, to write novels for teenagers - which is brilliant BUT they have to remember to use other methods to make it teen suitable rather than robbing teens of a really good read by cutting out words and using what can be very sloppy writing.  Vaughn is not the worst example I have seen recently, she makes a good attempt at a good novel, but if this is the first book in a series (which it feels like it might be) then I hope she lifts her game a little and puts a little more effort into providing a consistently good read.

If you like this book then try:
  • Steel by Carrie Vaughn
  • Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  • Dragon's blood by Jane Yolen
  • Dealing with dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • The princess's dragon by Susan Trombley
  • Other by Karen Kincy
  • Tinker by Wen Spencer
  • The golden compass by Philip Pullman
  • Mister Monday by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Brilla

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