Today’s book is Dragonkyn, by Nathan Smith Jones. 🙂
Length: 213 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc
Released: February 14, 2017
Marc Mondragon is your average teenager: always getting into trouble, crushing on the pretty girl in school. But when strange things begin happening to his body, Marc is thrust into a new world where dragons are no longer just fairytales. Now knowing he’s part dragon, Marc joins a group of Dragonkyn who call themselves Sorceron. As Marc discovers new powers within himself, he starts to wonder how much he can really trust his fellow Dragonkyn. After the leader of Sorceron orders the rest of the group to kill Marc, he flees. But when he discovers that people are going to attack the Sorceron, Marc is faced with a dilemma. Will he try to help the Dragonkyn who tried to kill him?
Between flat characters and lackluster writing, I wasn’t hooked.
Dragonkyn‘s premise would make for some great middle-grade fantasy fare – after a vicious rewrite.
There’s definitely potential here! The plot gallops along with nonstop action and fun, reminding me a lot of Kaza Kingsley’s Erec Rex series (one of my favorites growing up). However, the writing is marred by dozens verb tense errors and misplaced modifiers. The narrative also has this weird quirk of telling you what’s going to happen at the end of a scene before it even plays out. Here’s what I mean:
Marc [the main character] knew he should have kept his mouth shut, but when Mrs. Kessler [his teacher] targeted Katie, who had done nothing wrong, he had to rush to her defense.
Only after this line do we find out what Katie did (or didn’t do) and why Marc had to stand up for her. It reads oddly to me – why not just show me what happens in the first place?
The author’s penchant for telling extends to the characters as well. I kept being told what Marc felt, instead of feeling it along with him. It made the characters feel two-dimensional, and I really couldn’t connect with them very well.
But the main issue I took offense to is the way Marc interacts with the two main female characters – his classmate, Katie, and his fellow Dragonkyn, Jen. He develops crushes on both and gets upset and depressed when they pay attention to other boys instead of him.
Marc was going to say something, but didn’t. Why try? he thought miserably. He knew that Luke was funnier than he was. Great, I impress her, I’m the reason we’re walking home together, but he gets her attention.
And regarding Jen:
Great, Marc thought. I’m just the dorky friend to her. I might as well be a eunuch.
Dude. You’re fourteen! These neckbeard-y, ‘nice guy’ comments are alarming in their own right, but when I got to the end and realized that neither relationship was even important to the plot… yikes. Marc doesn’t learn or grow from these experiences at all. The story would be exactly the same – and probably better – without them.
I may not be have been impressed by Dragonkyn‘s current state of affairs, but I still think it has the makings of a great MG fantasy after a good clean-up.