December 13, 2012

Thursday Review: THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER by Jasper Fforde

Reader Gut Reaction: I adore Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, so I was excited to read that he was making a foray into YA—although from the pacing and content, I'd consider this one suitable (and perhaps more appealing) to MG readers. Like his other books, I'd describe it as a quirky fantasy adventure with a good dose of silliness, although instead of having the detective/mystery component that his adult books have, The Last Dragonslayer is more of a coming-of-age story…or, more precisely, it's a young-woman-thrust-unwillingly-into-various-positions-of-weighty-authority story. Because not only is Jennifer Strange the acting head of Kazam Mystical Arts Management since the head of the operation vanished, she's also just found out that there's Big Magic afoot, and with recalcitrant, cranky wizards to employ, a brand-new indentured foundling to train, and the last of the dragons to contend with, her hands are more than full. And it's about to get even crazier…

Concerning Character: Jennifer Strange is an intriguing individual—born a foundling, now the de facto head of a magical talent agency for aging sorcerers afraid of obsolescence in the face of technology. However, for my taste, the book didn't give me quite enough depth of character—despite being written in first person, I felt like I didn't have a very strong sense of the narrator. She acted, she reacted, but her emotions and even her thoughts about her own self and her past were a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, it's quite a fun, fast-paced read, and being the first in a series, presumably we'll get to know Jennifer a bit more over the course of future books. Oh. And I love the Quarkbeast. That is all.

Recommended for Fans Of...: Not unlike Monday's review, if you like books about orphans or foundlings who have a great destiny to fulfill, particularly if those books have a slightly off-kilter sense of humor (like the books of Terry Pratchett, perhaps) then you'll want to check this one out.

Themes & Things: This book's pretty much got all the themes a good adventure should—friendship and betrayal, mysterious doings and shocking revelations, and lots of rushing about from one catastrophe to the next. And because it takes place in a sort of alternate present, it's got plenty of fun and unique elements that make it stand out from your average fantasy. For instance, Jennifer may live in a world with magic, but they've also got TV. So when something like, oh, a prophecy of the last remaining dragon's death gets broadcast on every psychic wavelength, rest assured that it's going to mean a big media circus, too. Very wry and funny, with a nice twist at the end.

Review Copy Source: Library.

You can find The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde online, or at an independent bookstore near you!


tanita✿davis said...

Here's where I admit that I have TRIED with Fforde's YA stuff, and it just doesn't work as well for me as his adults stuff. Now, crossover with the Nursery Crimes books is amazing - I LOVE THOSE and I find them hilarious and think any teen (who knows their nursery rhymes) would like them, too. But, when he writes deliberately for teens, he doesn't quite hit it - I find that to be true for a lot of writers. T

Yat-Yee said...

I just started this today! The beginning is great! I am deliberately not reading the rest of your review till I'm done because I'm so easily swayed. :)