Series: The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Genre: High Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by HarperTeen (312)
Hardcover, 1.2.2013 pages
Source: I own it
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
I started to DNF at 78 pages. Then I changed my mind and picked it back up. Then, at 140 pages I just couldn’t take it anymore. Putting this one down kind of killed me, though. So I ended up picking it back up again and I just skimmed the rest. It bugged me too much to not finish it! First of all, the cover is SO gorgeous! Secondly, I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it. Maybe my expectations were a little too high, who knows. Third, I wanted so badly to like it. I really did. I liked the idea of the book a lot, and I’m a huge fan of high fantasy. But the writing was horrible. This is not Young Adult, it’s Middle Grade. I don’t know why it’s labeled YA. The writing is terribly sophomoric! If I was 12 years old, I probably would have loved this book. I think the main problem here is that I’m too old for the audience range. (Oh, and did I mention that I have not one but two copies? And that one is signed? Yeah. Bad life decision.)
This book was SO campy that I was laughing in the parts that were supposed to be serious. The dialogue and interactions were so ridiculous I couldn’t take it.
“I’ll eagerly count the days till your return.”
“I’m so glad you have something to keep you occupied,” she replied in a low, biting voice. “But don’t let it overburden you.”
His eyes flickered with a flash of humor. “She speaks.”
“She also kills,” she said
He let out a low laugh. “You have no idea how much I look forward to our marriage.”
With a short bow, he sauntered away. Fuming, she placed her trembling hands over her hot cheeks and willed them to cool.
“Gah, I can’t stand that man!”
“I don’t want to marry! Especially not you. […] I don’t have time for that.”
“Perhaps I can change your mind,” he said.
“No,” Kira bit off the word, wishing she could bite his head off.
“I’ll take that as a maybe.”
“Leave me alone!” She shoved him hard.
Shin Bo Hyun put his hands up in a conciliatory gesture.
“There’s the legendary temper.” He grinned. “I was wondering when it would show up. I’ve always loved making you mad. Your eyes turn a deep golden color.”
“May the gods curse you and your entire clan! May your name live only in infamy!”
“I will never go anywhere with you!” Taejo shouted. “I’ll kill you first!”
“How many more lives must be lost before you recognize the futility of your actions?” Shin Bo Hyun asked.
“Yours will be the next,” Kira responded, raising her sword high.
Shin Bo Hyun held up his hand. “Kira, you are my betrothed. Please put down your sword and join me at my side. It is, after all, where you belong.”
“I am not your betrothed and I will never join you!”
“I beg to differ. The king and queen agreed to our betrothal. We are, in fact, engaged – and it is binding, unless you plan to dishonor your family,” he said.
“Shin Bo Hyun! You’re nothing but a traitor!”
“No, I’m not,” Shin Bo Hyun replied in all seriousness. “I am completely loyal to my family, as are you. It is my uncle who is the traitor. I merely do his bidding.”
The lines were so cheesy that I started reading them out loud in exaggerated voices for my own amusement. Here’s my favorite:
“Foolish girl, did you think you could defeat me? You’re nothing but a pathetic mortal, while I’m the best of both worlds! I exist in yours and yet I’m stronger than any of you. Stronger than any demon!”
Soo my fiancé’s best friend loves Yu-Gi-Oh and they love to poke fun at Kaiba and the way he talks (as in, they say the cheesy lines in their best Kaiba voices). That last line just made me think of that and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud!
Other than the absolutely ridiculous dialogue, there were some things that just didn’t make sense. The book is supposedly based on Korean culture, yet there was a daimyo, which is Japanese. Huh? I even tried looking it up, thinking maybe I was wrong, but I couldn’t find anything about a daimyo being part of Korean culture, too. (I sincerely hope that it’s not complete ignorance on my part) The mixing of cultures confused me. It wasn’t like there were two separate parts of the fantasy world, one with Korean culture and one with Japanese culture. Everything else was Korean. Except for that one word. I don’t know why it bugged me so much. I guess because this: They’re all Asian, so it’s not like there’s a difference anyway, right? (That’s sarcasm, btw.) *sighs*
Black clouds of billowing smoke rose high above the inner city. Reds, yellows, pinks, and blues fluttered in the wind as hundreds of court ladies fell from the cliff onto the jagged rocks of the river below.
“I don’t understand! Why are they doing this?” She collapsed to her knees.
“They are jumping because they fear the enemy more than they fear death.”
I found this really weird for some reason. They don’t want to be captured, so they’re all jumping off cliffs? Maybe it’s just me, but this didn’t seem realistic…
I had a lot of trouble keeping the characters straight. There were a lot of names introduced at once with ZERO description of the characters, so I kept forgetting who everyone was. (Plus I got confused because there was a Lord Shin and a Shin Bo Hyun, and they were two different people.) Not to mention that none of them had any personality whatsoever. They were all flat as cardboard, including the main character. I think she was supposed to be fiery and badass, but all she did was whine and yell a lot. There was also no world building. We get a map, at least, I’ll give it that. But the names of the countries? realms? were thrown around without any kind of background, so that’s all they were: Names, mentioned in passing. Nothing more.
Even the prophecy itself was half-assed. I mean, this was the entire prophecy:
Seven will become three. Three will become one. One will save us all.
That’s it? I mean, maybe I have high expectations because the first book I read with a prophecy was The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass, and that prophecy was like, 5 paragraphs long. I guess it just seemed a little too short and mediocre. A prophecy should have a certain ring to it, and this one just didn’t have it.
I also felt ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when I was reading this. View Spoiler »Kira’s father died right in front of her and it wasn’t even a blip on my emotional radar. Usually I like when there’s sacrifice in books, because it’s realistic. But nope. « Hide Spoiler Unless I was giggling at the campy dialogue, my face was stuck like this:
The tidal stone was pretty cool, although it coming from a giant turtle’s mouth was a little strange. Oh, the water dragon was awesome! Still, I don’t feel like I really missed much. The final fight was quick and easy, and most of the story felt extremely cliche. I do kind of want to try out the second book, just to see if the writing improves. I think this series has a lot of potential, but the execution was so terrible that it ruined it for me.
Side note: I did actually learn something from this novel. There was a dog, named Jindo, and the description gave us: It’s a “large white dog” with “thick, soft fur,” and “his fluffy tail curled up to nearly touch his back, at odds with the proud tilt and carriage of his large, triangular head.” I had a rant going for this until I Google searched and realized Jindo is not only the dog’s name, but it’s also a breed name. A Korean breed. I’ve never heard of it – and I know my dog breeds, I’ve studied them and I’ve heard of a lot of obscure ones! I honestly thought it was a Samoyed. I was having a hell of a time picturing a Samoyed fighting in a battle! Still, I think the description was a little off, because my brain was stuck on “large fluffy white” (i.e. Samoyed) and a Jindo looks very much like a Shiba (which is, coincidentally, Japanese – but not fluffy). And it kept putting emphasis on the fact that he was “large” and “big,” yet the Jindo only gets to 40-60 lbs, tops. And that’s for a male. 60 isn’t that big. To me, a big dog is more like 80 pounds. Anyway, I felt rather silly that I was racking my brain to figure out the dog breed and the answer was right there in the damn name. Doh.
Writing style: 1/5