It was a neat idea, but the writing was a little too heavy-handed and dramatic. It sort of read like a Sci-Fy Channel movie, which caused it to be more visual and choppy, not allowing, in my opinion, much depth to characters or plot. I didn't feel all that invested in the characters, and their relationship was one of those, "Oh hey, we're in love now." I'm a slow build-up kinda gal, so having them suddenly in love, especially with all the hang-ups the main character had, didn't jive for me.
But if you're interested in London as a city, or in Brit-speak, this was very informative. You could probably use it as a tour guide for that great city.
It was brought to my attention that I didn’t write a very good review. So I’d like to fix that. Dragon Streets had a promising premise. I liked that the issue of domestic abuse was brought into this. A big pet peeve of mine is women who feel it is their right to beat on men and feel they don’t have to worry about repercussions for it. Having Dale be a victim of this sort of abuse was interesting. However, it felt forced; a piece of a puzzle that had to be jammed into place. I want to think it was meant to show more of Dale’s character, but it didn’t really. Even though Dale kept saying that he had PTSD, he didn’t really seem afflicted by such a traumatic diagnosis. His being alone and lonely could have been the result of a lot of reasons, but for it to have been due to the huge trauma of an abusive spouse and her and their child’s death seemed almost too massive for this bit of fantasy-action story. Toward the end, I thought there would be a connection between their deaths and the reason the dragons’ were after Dale. That didn’t happen, but it would have been cool if it had.
The characters in this were an odd mix of intriguing and opaque. I kept feeling as if I got hooked, but was never hauled anywhere with them. Dale is clearly the most put-together character, but even his seams unraveled. I expect characters to grow when put in the situations he was placed in, but he went from hermitic dullard to uber-confident super-sleuth in a matter of a day or two.
The story was choppy in that it didn’t really give me any reasoning behind why characters did or said a lot of what they did. I could understand why Dale would fall in love with the first guy that seemed safe, but why did Phirun have immediate true-love? Why did the detective, Vivian, fall madly in love or lust with Dale? It just suddenly happens and the author just wanted me to swallow it. On page 102, Phirun tells Dale to explain things to Vivian. On page 110, Phirun fights with Dale because he doesn’t want Vivian told anything. Dale has lived in England for years, but still says things like, “…or whatever the equivalent is in ‘stone’ or what you call it.” He didn’t know that DI stood for Detective Inspector. I only watch BBC America and I knew that stuff, but I was expected to believe a man living in the country for years didn’t. The fire dragons drag Dale into the war because they don’t want him in the war in a Terminator-style plot hole. Weird inconsistencies like these were constantly pushing me out of the story.
When there is a war going on, I expect action, and this story delivers that. But the characters had a lot of dialog in very intense moments that I’ve only ever seen in action movies. There was even a stolen kiss, ala Leia and Luke swinging to freedom in Star Wars. That’s why I originally likened it to a Sci-Fy Channel movie. It was choppy and hectic in its action scenes. And in one instance, for some odd reason, there was a soundtrack. I still don’t know why one dragon faction would start playing a Coldplay song right before they sprung their trap, but it added to the movie feeling. Not in a particularly good way, but in a way that tossed me back out of the story.
The really nice thing about the book was the peppering the author did of locations and history of London. I was very intrigued with ghost stations, just sitting there under the city. The bit of history about wooden elevators being used as late as the 1980s was fascinating. The rancor with the transportation department was interesting and gave me more insight into some interactions I’ve read or watched in British dramas. Happily, this book gave me new things to look up and explore the next time I am lucky enough to enjoy the sights and sounds of London. I appreciate that a lot.
However, as a reader, I wish the author had slowed down a bit and built the story up more. Give me more thread to the story that is being weaved so that I can wrap myself up in it. If the pace had slowed down a bit and allowed the characters to develop more and the plot to strengthen, I think this could have been a very exciting tale for me. As it was, I closed the book with dissatisfaction at a story charred on the outside and raw in the center.