Saturday, November 7, 2015

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer

The curse of reviewing mediocre things "man there are so many things I'd rather be doing right now than trying to find the energy to talk about THIS". And I'm afraid this might be happening a lot in the next few weeks, I've been reading my usual book and a half a week but very few of the fiction works have really been grabbing me (I tend to alternate reading fiction and non-fiction but I find non-fiction tricky enough to review that those thoughts tend to get shoved into the weekly round-ups). It's not a burn-out per say, alternating with non-fiction is helping, but it's frustrating week after week I start up an interesting looking book and am completely bored with it by the end.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange lives a life benefitting her name. In a country where magic is dying she helps to manage one of the few remaining magical talent agencies despite only being 16, it's a long story. With news of the last dragon about to die, and possibly all magic in the country as well, things are looking a bit bleak and even finding out that she might be able to save them all is not an encouraging thought.

There are many tropes I dislike, which is true for everyone, and unfortunately this book had one of my least favorites right off the bat, the mis-mashed setting. Settings are hugely important, you don't have to explain every detail in them but they do need to make a kind of logical sense and Fforde's mash of medieval, magical ideas with a more modern setting (which feels like the 90s more than the aughts or teens) doesn't work. The characters are nonplussed by the mixed up world you live in but I could practically hear the author just giggling going "this is sooooo weird isn't it?" every time there was a particularly weird combination. Instead of endearing me to the world and Jennifer's particular problems (like worries of how all the dragon lands will be bought up by soulless corporations) it just irked me and that alone almost kept me from enjoying the book.

In the end I didn't enjoy the book for a few other reasons as well, the entire climax is resolved by a single action, one which was forced upon Jennifer and I didn't full buy into her "acceptance" of her own actions. There were a few hints and subplots that I wish had been explored more (seeing that this is the first book in a series explains a few things), and honestly I didn't really like any of the characters, nobody grabbed me. I will say that the "twists" towards the end of the story (two of them) both worked well and neither of them felt outlandish but that's the kindest thing I can say about the story. Otherwise, it was a dull affair and I doubt I'll check out other books by this author in the future. 

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