Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dragons Vs. Drones

Marcus has been living with his dad's best friend since the night his CIA agent dad disappeared and was branded a traitor by the US government.  He has spent the time since then looking for a way to find his father and building his own drone to assist in the search.

Dree is the poor daughter of a former dragon rider who never passes a day without feeling guilty about the fire that killed her little brother.  She works in a blacksmith shop, and she's really good even though she is small.  No one knows the secret of her work is the burning magical heat that lives inside her.

One night Marcus rides into an intense storm that he believes will lead him to his father.  What he finds is a gateway to another world.  But a couple of drones follow him through the gateway and begin attacking Dracone.  Now Marcus and Dree will have to work together to save Dracone and its inhabitants--the humans and the dragons.

I have mixed feelings about this new book by Wesley King.  I think it will definitely appeal to a large number of kinds, and the concept is interesting, but there are several flaws that really hampered my enjoyment of the story.  First, Marcus must have magical batteries for his cell phone and laptop because they keep working for days of steady use before he even considers trying to find a way to charge them.  Second, it is difficult to believe that a normal 12-year-old can just hack into a drone and reprogram it.  Yes, he does have to keep reworking it, but I know a lot of 12-year-olds, and most of them wouldn't even know where to start.  Also, the real villain doesn't appear until the last ten pages of the book, and he is about as well developed as a cartoon character with a mustache to twirl.

That said, I still think kids will read this book and look forward to the sequel.  It has plenty of action, including some death-defying drops, lots of explosions, and both protagonists have secrets they are determined to keep.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


In the future, humanity has cured death.  Nothing is fatal anymore--not aging, disease, or even freak accidents.  But if no one ever dies, and we continue having children, the population grows exponentially.  Thus the order of Scythes is born.  Every country in the world has scythes, and it is their duty to determine who will die and the method of the death.  If you are gleaned by a scythe, you are truly dead.  There will recovery.

Citra and Rowan have been chosen to train as apprentices.  The idea spending an eternity as a killer is distasteful to both of them, but their families will be granted immunity from gleaning during the apprenticeship, and that is a large inducement.

As they set out to learn the killing arts from Scythe Faraday, they learn his method of gleaning using statistics and compassion, but as they enter the world of the Scythedom, they also find a world of politics and machinations.  It's a dangerous world they've entered, and it seems unlikely that they can both survive.

This is another masterfully told story by one of my favorite authors.  In the hands of Neal Shusterman, what could have just been a gory power play becomes a nuanced story about corruption, mortality, and the meaning of life.  I can't wait for the next book!