Title: Dragon’s Green
Author: Scarlett Thomas
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Euphemia Truelove is a student at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange, a school attended by a great variation of children. These children seem to be either ‘Troubled’ and ‘Strange’, but it’s hard to tell which is which, and there don’t appear to be any ‘Gifted’ children in attendance. When Effie’s grandfather dies, leaving her all his books, and a few special objects, she is distraught. And everything is made worse by the fact that her father has sold all the books, bar one, to a rather odd, suspicious man. Effie is determined to get them back, but she can’t do it alone. With the help of four friends – Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven, she sets out to reclaim her books. But the discovery of the one unsold book pulls her into a strange world, where she must complete the story if she ever wishes to return home…
— Characters —
There are five main characters in this book – Effie, Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven. In the beginning, they are, for the most part, loners, and do not associate with each other. It’s easy to see why – Effie’s a dreamy nobody, Max is a nerd, Wolf a trouble-making athlete… each of these children does and enjoys very different things. They were all quite stereotypical characters, and I felt that they could have been slightly more varied – they can be easily split into categories, and that introduced the potential risk of the entire book sounding like most school movies. Thankfully, however, the book escaped the fate, and managed to bring individuality into the characters. It also gave them some character development. Not a ton, but as this was the first book in a series, I expect there’s more to follow. The main character development, I felt, was that Maximilian became a much more decent guy. He started out as somebody who seemed to manipulate things to fit what he wanted, and took something he shouldn’t. In the end, however, his character had grown enough to be able to admit his wrong, return the items, and make amends.
— Plot —
So, after her grandfather’s disappearance, Effie starts meeting the other four outside of school, and one by one, realises that the objects her grandfather left her are destined for each of the others to own. These objects are called ‘boons’, and the idea is that some specific boons awaken a dormant power in young people who possess them. The five boons that Effie has conveniently each belong to her and the four others, so that all works out nicely.
I enjoyed the plot. It did feel quite like a video game to me – you collect boons, go on quests, and gain or loose life-force depending on your actions, but it was all quite fun. The story moved quickly – the first chapter jumped straight into the action, but it all worked with the idea. There were some amusing characters, such as a terrifying school teacher, and some ‘bad guys’, who the children were up against, as well as a cast of other supporting characters – the princess from a story, a dragon, Effie’s cousins from another world, the parents and siblings of other characters… All in all, the plot was nicely woven and moved smoothly. I did also really like some of the ideas introduced, such as a dragon that looks like a large, slightly scaly human with wings, a school for princesses (some of whom get fed to said dragon), and being able to adventure through books. It was, whilst taking some classic ideas, a tale unlike anything I have ever read before.
— Writing —
This was nicely written. It didn’t strike me as incredible writing, but it was in no way terrible, either. In the beginning it felt a little wordy, especially for a children’s book, but it was only the first few chapters, and soon straightened out. In the terms of point of view, it was in third person, but as different characters were occasionally in different places, that had to be managed. Each different chapter tended to start with the names of the characters, however, and would quickly tell you which characters you were with, so the switches worked neatly. It was also a well-handled set of switches, with each character getting the time they needed, instead of just one chapter. When a good point was reached, it switched to the other characters, but the author gave the characters space to adventure whilst switching between places.
— Cover —
The cover for this book is lovely. It’s quite dark, and is done as a silhouette of a girl emerging from a wood, with a cityscape in front of her, and dragons (yes, dragons!) flying above the city. The colours are all very dark and mysterious, with lots of blues and purples. I just had one problem with it. You see, parts of the cover were made to glow in the dark (which is very cool), but they wrote ON THE COVER that ‘this book glows in the dark’! For me, it distracts from the rest of the cover. Everything else about it was cool, it’s just that one little thing. The rest is beautiful (and I tested the glow in the dark, and it works, which is pretty neat!).
So, to conclude this review – this was a book that took old ideas, and created something completely new from them. It was well-crafted, and written in a fun way. It’s the first of a series – the ‘Worldquake Sequence’, and I think I’m going to try and find the other books!
Go forth… and read!