Rosalee's Reviews > Dragonhaven

Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
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Jan 02, 15

bookshelves: belovedbookshelf
Read in November, 2007

This book isn't for everyone. It is told in first person by Jake, and it is almost more a book of Jake being Jake rather than being a book that actually has a plot. (Thats an exaggeration, it does have a plot, but I think you'll understand what I mean.) I remember someone (can't remember who, sorry!) describing this as "fantasy that reads like realism"--a very apt description, in my opinion. I would describe the narration as colloquial to the point of almost being stream-of-conciousness, except not really. If this sounds like it would annoy you, try one of Robin McKinleys others, which are less ramble-y. I love this book, but I completely understand how alot of people can't STAND it.


I'm coming back to my old review because I'm re-reading this book And I see all these other McKinley fans give this one a low rating and I want them to get it. And I'm loving this book all over again and still having this conversation in my head--"Nothing else has happened yet. Except Jake rambling. And making up new words for things. Why is this entertaining? And why do I love it so much?"

For many long-time McKinley fans, I totally get why this book is hard to swallow. Its different from her other books, significantly, in narrator, Point of View, setting, and voice. I really admire an author trying something so very different. And succeeding. Rather than your fantasy-setting third-person female-main-character carefully-worded fast(ish)-plotted McKinley book, you get... Dragonhaven. Semi-modern setting but-wait-there-are-dragons, extremely ramble-y first person narration from a teenage guy with about enough plot for a short story.

The real interesting part happens inside Jake, not outside, which is why I think many readers miss it. Speaking of coming-of-age story, this is an amazing example of one. Its about Jake growing up and figuring out what the world is like, and its not all bad but its not all good either and his seemingly romantic/exciting/interesting/whatever life is also full of more headaches than we'd like to think. Literally.

One thing McKinley does so well in all of her books is take something magical and mystical and say, well, what would that really be like? In the non-glorious day-to-day real-life version, what would it really be like? Most books seem to go from Interesting Thing to Interesting thing and leave out all the between bits. Jake thinks he is leaving out all the between bits, or at least he says he doesn't know how to put them in, but then he does almost by accident.

You don't have to love this book. But I still give it five stars.
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message 1: by Lizzy (new) - added it

Lizzy Sounds similar Shadows or Sunshine (in that it's stream-of-consciousness and ramble-y). Those books didn't really do it for me, so I might actually skip this one, since it seems to be similar to those. But I'm glad you liked it! Did you enjoy Shadows and Sunshine as well?

Rosalee I did read sunshine, and while I enjoyed the writing style, I just don't do vampires. Yuk. It's the only vampire book I've actually chosen to read on my own, and may be my last, because the whole concept of vampires is just so unattractive to me.

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