Friday, July 26, 2013

Read THIS not THAT! - Youth Dragons

There's not a culture in the world that exists without the mention of some large generally fire or acid breathing reptiles. I think it is safe to say that people love the mythology of dragons and all that come with it. Unfortunately, not all dragons are created equally.... here are some titles that your kids may want to pick up but won't really be worth their time.


Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey is hailed as being one of the best dragon writers of the century, but apparently, I'm the only one who thinks she is a one trick pony- same story, different characters.... and maybe it's the characters I should be looking at, but frankly she's from a different era than I am... I don't like her treatment of a lot of the female characters (granted, I don't like how most fantasy novels treat their female characters... why must they always use some sort of sorcery or trickery in order to be considered great or worthy? As if they aren't great on their own?) ... plus, the rampant misogyny DESPITE the fact that the main character in book one IS a woman. It's just digusting..... another thing that I dislike about Anne McCaffrey is the fact that she hates all forms of fanfiction and fanart. What the hell, man?

Eragon - Does it bother anyone else that the second anyone mentions dragons in books THIS has become the immediate 'go-to' book? While it is admirable that a kid wrote it, it's not admirable that the publishing company's editor is his father and he basically lifted everything for the series from watching too much Star Wars as a kid (and Star Wars stole a lot of good ideas from samurai films and kabuki theatre, but that's not the point) - my problem with Eragon is how terribly unoriginal it is, and yet it's advertised as fresh meat. And the quality isn't really that great either. Any imaginative 13 year old boy can write like Paolini....

How to Train Your Dragon - The animated film is simply adorable. Do not get me wrong; I have much much love for the movie adaptation of this book. You know that saying though that the book almost always better than the movie? Yeah, this one doesn't. The book is filled with crude horribly inaccurate depictions of Vikings (and if you've read my historical fiction post, you'll know what a stickler I am for accuracy!) that glorifies violence and shuns everything else. Perhaps it's all in good fun, but there seems to be something inherently wrong (and I have this qualm with the movie too) to train dragons to fight other dragons. Something never sat well with me regarding that....


Pit Dragons - Those who have read this series and this articles are pointing at me yelling "but but but but but!" ..... yes, dragons fight dragons in this novel, BUT there's a twist to it that I find very refreshing. The main characters in this series want to free the dragons that are forced to fight other dragons, so it becomes a fantasy medieval version of Pitbulls and Parolees.... and it really is, and it's a very heartening series to read that is too often overlooked. It's nice to see the 'human' side of dragons. The age levels say 10 to 12, and the reading level is just that. Tends to be predictable for adults, but the concept for this book would work much better as adult fantasy. I wish Yolen would do a rewrite.

Dealing with Dragons - This is the first book in the 'Enchanted Forest' series which takes a lot of fantasy stereotypes and turns them completely on their heads- a princess who doesn't want to marry a prince or be rescued, a dragon who would much rather eat cherries jubilee than fight knights, and many many more. I'm choosing this series just for that reason. It is nice to see roles reversed and an intelligent princess protagonist. It has been one of those books that has stayed with me for many many years, so much in fact that I have rereading this short four book series many different times. Great books for girls and boys alike.

The Hobbit - Smaug the dragon is not present for a majority of this book, but that doesn't make him one of the greatest dragons in youth literature. I can't think of many people who would argue that this classic doesn't need to be read. It is the pinnacle of fantasy literature as we know. So many people know the story of Bilbo Baggins and his journey with the dwarfs to Lonely Mountain to reclaim the dwarven homeland from the dragon Smaug, even if they haven't cracked open the book itself. And the book is an absolute delight to read. Plus, what kind of list would this be without a fabulously evil treasure-hoarding dragon? Bilbo's confrontation with him is probably my favorite part in the entire novel.

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