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Dragonhaven

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  5,627 ratings  ·  787 reviews
In this fascinating look at a modern-day world where dragons truly exist, the Newbery Medal-winning author of The Hero and the Crown takes readers into a controversial nature preserve, which about 200 of the worlds few remaining dragons call home.
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 19th 2007 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Dragonhaven is the book that singlehandedly demoted Robin McKinley from an auto-buy author to a "check out her book in the library first" author for me. I've had issues with a lot of her other recent novels--some of them are quite odd, and she's developed a fondness for incomprehensible, nightmarish magical scenes--but this book was the last straw that broke my devotion.

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  <span id=Dragonhaven is the book that singlehandedly demoted Robin McKinley from an auto-buy author to a "check out her book in the library first" author for me. I've had issues with a lot of her other recent novels--some of them are quite odd, and she's developed a fondness for incomprehensible, nightmarish magical scenes--but this book was the last straw that broke my devotion.

description

Maybe if I were 14 I'd enjoy reading a whole novel written in a 15-year-old guy's voice. Maybe. As it is, I found the writing style truly painful to read. That was my first and biggest problem with Dragonhaven, but there were other problems.

I'm not sure how McKinley--one of my favorite authors--made a story about finding intelligent dragons and raising a baby dragon so rambling and boring and near-pointless, but damn. I kept thinking it would get better and it never did.

I promptly gave the book away to Goodwill when I was done, and then I had to go back and reread The Blue Sword to get the taste of Dragonhaven out of my mouth.
...more
Lindsay
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Wow. You never know what you are going to get with Robin McKinley. Sometimes her writing is absolutely brilliant, pulling you into a fantasy world that you wouldn't mind exchanging for your own. Her main characters, usually female, are fully realized characters who you quickly admire and care about. I admit that I have not liked all of her previous work, but I was surpised by how much I disliked this book. It is set in the present (or at least a present populated by mythical creatures) and told ...more
Jenne
Dec 17, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnt-finish, ya
blah blah blah zoo blah blah kids blah blah blah intelligent dragons blah blah whatever.
Sherwood Smith
Oct 18, 2008 added it
Shelves: fantasy
This book caught my eyes because it seemed McKinley's first attempt to break away from endless rewrites of Beauty and the Beast. It is a first-person narrative by Jake Mendoza, who lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is the millions-of-acres preserve for about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which are on the endangered list.

The story begins when Jake is fourteen, and at first the reader might assume that he's writin
...more
Rachel
Aug 16, 2007 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nature-lovers
Shelves: modern-fantasy
Anyone looking for a slam-bang action adventure novel will certainly be disappointed in Dragonhaven. Anyone looking for "typical" McKinley will also be disappointed, as the reviews show; unlike a lot of her books, Dragonhaven isn't a fairytale or based on one, the romance (such as it is) happens almost entirely off screen (off page?), and the main character (and narrator) is a young male.

But I think readers who come looking for the "typical" Robin McKinley novel are getting confused, and looking merely at
...more
Katie
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG! This was amazing... I really enjoy reading Robin McKinley but she tends to leave you hanging at the end, as if she's going to make a sequel but then nothing ever comes of it. However this one comes full circle and ends on a beautiful note. It takes a bit to get used to since the main character Jake is trying to tell his story in his twenties about something that started happening at 14, so the writing tends to be a little jumpy. However as one of my co-workers mentioned when I explained thi ...more
Cayenne
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I didn't finish this book. I actually only got 30 pages into it. I love Robin McKinley's other books, but I got bogged down on this one. The story is told from the point of view of a fifteen year old boy, at least at the beginning. I glanced at the end and he does grow up. I could barely stand Harry Potter at 15 and I care about him. Robin just didn't make me care about this boy fast enough. Also, either Robin or just her character has real issues with "dumb" scientists and I got really sick of ...more
Ashley Daviau
Jun 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well that was a chore to get through. I was so excited at the prospect of a book about dragons but boy was I ever let down. It's written from the perspective of a young teenage boy who just grated on my nerves the whole way through. The whole book was extremely juvenile, quite terribly written and frankly, I'm surprised I managed to finish it.
Elise Schuchman
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have absolutely loved everything McKinley has ever written and Dragonhaven isn’t bad. It’s just in need of some serious editing.

Cons:
1) It dragged. I'll explain: A lot of readers say Sunshine dragged. I always thought they were full of crap, Sunshine had, you know, Events going on, and the segues into world or character-building were genuinely interesting and not too distracting, for me at least. In Dragonhaven the main character rambles too, but his rambles repeat quite a bit so
...more
Rosalee
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: belovedbookshelf
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 ...more
Jessica
Nov 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: youngadult
Robin McKinley does dragons again, and this time completely differently. This is the story of our world, sort of. Our world if there were dragons kept at a national park reserve. Young Jake is telling the story of how he encountered a dragon face to face (they are normally so elusive as to seem nonexistent), and how it changed his life and the world in general. I had a hard time, though, with the style of narration. Jake is, quite simply, telling the story, with occasional tangents and rants, and it ditelling ...more
Rebecca
Over Thanksgiving, I re-read "The Hero and the Crown" and was inspired to go to Robin McKinley's website to see if she had anything new coming out. When I saw that "Dragonhaven" was on the shelves I couldn't wait to get to the library.

Unfortunately, reading them so close together was a reminder of how different the style of her recent books is compared to her older ones. "Sunshine" went in this direction, with long rambly sections where you realize the action hasn't advanced for page
...more
Rachel
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was ok

There's a comment that I heard Joni Mitchell once say about music (specifically the songs she had written and performed). She says that no one asked Van Gogh to "paint Starry Night again, man".

With Robin McKinley's newer work, I expect it to compare to The Hero and the Crown or The Blue Sword. This book, in particular, doesn't compare very well. It's difficult to comprehend that the books are written by the same author. The story craft (supported by the well-chosen language) is not there like it has been
...more
Angela
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who are really into fantasy
There's almost a thud when an outstanding author writes a new book and you tear into it only to find it disappointing and inferior to previous work. The Blue Sword and Beauty are absolutely outstanding; I've re-read them repeatedly. But most of her other work doesn't even come close.

Dragonhaven is in the latter category, complete with "thud". It's creatively conceived, but the style of writing, while perhaps believable (she writes as a teen-aged boy), does not make for engaging reading. It's too drawn out
...more
Rachael
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
I can't believe I'm giving 2 stars to anything by Robin McKinley, but I was just horribly disappointed. My gripes? Well, first of all, the book's written in a very distracting stream-of-consciousness type thing, fun of phrases such as "and I was, like, scared" or things like that. Secondly, the "plot" of the book was one that would have taken about twenty pages to describe, if it wasn't for the obnoxious stream-of-consciousness style. This would have made a fun short story, but it just was NOT u ...more
E.A. Lawrence
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A solid piece of entertainment. The long rambling style of the prose got grating at times but ultimately proved effective in making me believe that everything was real; that if I went and googled the Makepeace Institute I would actually find a real place to which I could travel and hope to see dragons. That kind of convincing storytelling is admirable. I particularly like the fact that McKinley managed to make a subject like dragons into such a great piece of sci-fi.
Dalyn
Okay, so. I love basically everything I’ve ever read by Robin McKinley, which is almost everything she’s ever written. Something about her writing style just grabs hold of my heart like a puppy with a stick, running around shaking it in its teeth and refusing to let go. She’s one of my all-time favourite authors. I have exactly no chill when it comes to Robin McKinley or any of her books.

Dragonhaven is, I think (I honestly don’t remember very well), the first book of hers I ever read
...more
Kogiopsis
I don't know why this was already rated, as I definitely hadn't read it before this year. And also... it's not a four-star book for me. Unexpected, as it's Robin McKinley writing about the ethology of dragons but... that's just how it went, I guess.

For the record, reading this immediately after A Natural History of Dragons was largely coincidence; it just seemed to be the most interesting thing I had to hand at the time. The coincidence did give me some good perspective, though, because each of these book
...more
Chris
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good first-person tale of 14-year old Jake, who lives on one of the world's few dragon preserve parks, and who manages to accidentally and irrevocably change his life on his first solo trip into the park. (Dragons are originally from Australia, so think about the implications for dragon physiology. I'll wait.)
Carola Garam
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I should start by saying I love Robin McKinley, and I love most of her books. Dragonhaven is no exception, though it is one of her weirdest and so very different from anything else I've read from her so far. I almost felt like I wasn't reading McKinley at all.
I did enjoy this book, even if it is bizarre and the pacing is strange, and there are huge holes in the story. I still love Jake, and Lois, and Bud (I particularly love Bud, I want a Bud related sequel). I love the themes and the symbols a
...more
Eva
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is just My Side Of The Mountain, but on steroids and with dragons. You would think the dragons would make it more interesting, but no. McKinley's dreamlike style of writing does not lend itself well to writing about ~scientific dragons.
Marjorie Hakala
May 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't know, guys, I'm starting to think I don't like McKinley's first-person narrators. Will give this a fair shot though.
--
Finished it. Didn't like it. In the past I've loved McKinley's depictions of slow, not overly plotty processes of recovery or growing up, as in Deerskin or The Hero and the Crown; someone gets injured, mentally or physically, and it takes a long slow time to get better again. But it's another thing to have the character in question yammer on about how difficult and painfu
...more
Trina
Nov 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: youth-literature
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record at the beginning of my YA reviews. I really enjoyed this book but will not be giving it to my daughter. If I don't think of it as YA, then I have little to complain about. It was very unique. Written from a 15 year old boy's perspective, she does a good job of making it believable (complete with slang and runon sentences). A young boy raises a baby dragon. It is interesting because it has less to do with this adventure than on the impact this has on th ...more
Maureen E
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult

The first new McKinley since Sunshine! Woo hoo! I was definitely excited to read this one because a) it was written by Robin McKinley and b) it’s about dragons. I am fond of dragons—fictional ones that is. So this book already had a lot going for it.

It didn’t disappoint. For one thing, I very much enjoyed Jake’s voice. It is not the one I’ve come to expect from Robin McKinley, but it was true to the character in a way that the voice of, say Spindle’s End wouldn’t have been. It was, i
...more
Kim
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I like the ideas in this book: the concept of dragons, the way humans might respond to them if they existed as animals in our own world. And I can admire McKinley's ability to create a convincing written-by-a-teenage-boy record of that teenage boy's experiences. But what makes the voice convincing is also what makes the book so difficult to read. The teenage boy's story meanders and curls around favorite topics, hitches and snarls in half-thought reactions to events, and in attempting to express ...more
Ellisa Barr
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I wish I could give this book a higher score. Robin McKinley is one of my all-time favorite authors and I was hoping for more from this book. The story is pretty good, but I just never really got attached to the characters, and I wasn't a big fan of the writing style. It's told in first-person almost like a stream of consciousness and I just felt it was too repetitive. Like, I GET that dragons are big and that the boy has a headache. Stop already. Having the story told by teen probably didn't he ...more
Deb
Dec 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: only the most fanatical of dragon story lovers
Shelves: fantasy-sf
This book is supposedly written by Robin McKinley, but reads absolutely nothing like her earlier prosey work. I understand that she's writing from the first-person perspective of a character that's none-to-comfortable with the writing process, but the book is painful to read at times. The phrase "I'd've" is used more than once, and grammar goes out the window.

Aside from butchering the English language, the book starts out reading like a writer's block exercise. I plugged along becaus
...more
Gail
Good dragon story, sort of an urban fantasy story, only not. It's told (and told well) from the first-person point of view of a teenaged boy who's grown up in one of the three dragon sanctuaries in the world. The story starts a bit slowly because it takes time to set up the dragon universe and the sanctuary and the other characters, and even once things start happening, the story doesn’t race along, because it's complicated and has complicated concepts and ideas. But it's all Interesting. I like ...more
Adela Bezemer-Cleverley
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-stars, wish-list
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books she read
...more
“But I'm going to try to tell the truth. Except for the parts I'm leav­ing out, because there's still stuff I'm just not going to tell you. Get used to it.” 112 likes
“It wasn't so long ago when all the so-called scientists said that humans were intelligent and that animals weren't, humans were the solitary unchallenged masters of the globe and probably the universe and the only question was whether we were handling our mastery well. (No. Next question.)” 26 likes
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