Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Review: Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owens

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book reviews.

The first thing that comes to mind when I read Here, There Be Dragons is that it's dual-layered. On one hand, it's your typical young adult fantasy where the protagonists enter another realm and end up saving it (although Owens breaks convention by having a much older demographic as its heroes). On the other hand, more knowledgeable readers will catch various literary and mythical allusions that the author sprinkled into the story. This is very much a young adult book, especially since Owens dives into the action quickly and the narrative is sparse when it comes to descriptions and detail. The illustrations in the book are gorgeous and is a perfect fit for the black-and-white printing of this novel. One strength of Here, There Be Dragons is that it moves at a quick pace, the suspense is steady, and every chapter has an immediacy to it. A factor to take into consideration when reading this novel however is its target demographic so one shouldn't expect Robert Jordan-esque complexity in the text. However, older readers will probably get tickled by Owens's various references and the true identity of its main characters. The author also draws from fantasy conventions, whether it's the destined hero or its European-centric mythology, and personally I'm exhausted by this type of fantasy but Owens redeems the reading experience due to the depth of its characters who are more than just cardboard cut-outs. Overall, Here, There Be Dragons was quick and enjoyable as well as containing easter eggs for astute and well-read readers.

Rating: 3/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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