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The Painted Boy

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,233 ratings  ·  147 reviews
James Li should be in Chicago, finishing high school and working at his family's restaurant. Instead, as a born member of the Yellow Dragon Clan, he is on a quest even he does not understand. Jay's journey takes him to Santo del Vado Viejo in the Arizona desert, a town overrun by gangs, haunted by members of other animal clans, perfumed by delicious food, and set to the be ...more
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published November 11th 2010 by Viking Children's Books (first published August 7th 2010)
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,233 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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colleen the convivial curmudgeon

Charles de Lint is one of those names that I hear time and time again, often with lots of praise, but I've just never been entirely enthralled with any of his books I've tried to read - and this is no exception.

And it's a shame, because there's a lot of potential for a great story here.

There were things I liked about it. The idea of the story, and the mixture of cultures is really interesting. It was cool to see non-Anglo-Saxon cultures presented for a change in a story set in America, and t
Jay is a 17 year old from Chicago who's only ever worked at his parents’ Chinese restaurant. He randomly points his finger at a place on a map: Santo del Vado Viejo, AZ and goes there with his grandmother’s blessing. She’s been training him since he was eleven, when a giant picture of a dragon appeared on his back. Now he speaks any language fluently, animals react strangely to him, and he has no idea why. His grandmother taught him much more of the esoteric rather than realistic: he is of the Y ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Last night when I finished this book, my boyfriend asked how it was and I shrugged and said "it was okay." Thus...two stars.

It really wasn't a BAD book, but if I were to ask parallel-universe me (who has read every book ever and, being me, obviously knows my taste) if I should read The Painted Boy, she would probably tell me to skip it.

The only interesting characters were Paupau and Maria, and they really just don't have very big roles. :\ Everyone else is really one-dimensional, melodramatic, k
Sharon Michael
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely one of my favorites. The location is different, American southwest desert rather than his usual cool, green northern settings, but his lyrical writing evokes the desert as well as it does his familiar northern forests. As always, excellent characterization and seamless blend of people and "not-people".
May 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
I didn't know anything about this book or the author. After reading a few pages I really liked the opening of the book and I was hoping it would develop into a good story.

I think the plot was original. There are many characters that are interesting at first but eventually they are not engaging, and at times I mixed up the names of some of them.

The supernatural powers seem unbalanced and I didn't feel that the weaknesses and confrontations of the main characters were believable. The Painted Boy
Joy (joyous reads)
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This book started out great for me; there was just enough mystery within its opening pages that got my attention right away. Unfortunately, books heady with folklore and myths tend to be heavy on the narrative as well and The Painted Boy suffered from the same symptoms and quickly lost its initial appeal. I finished the book but it took me quite a bit longer. Sadly, it couldn't maintain the interesting beginning. It lagged and dragged until the seemingly rushed and convenient ending.

The Painted
Ranting Dragon
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: benni
The Painted Boy is a standalone novel by Charles de Lint, following a young Chinese-American teenager, Jay Li. When he was 11 years old, a painted dragon appeared on his back, signaling that in the future he may wield the power of his inner dragon. When Jay turns 17, he travels from Chicago’s Chinatown to Santo del Vado Viejo, Arizona as part of his spiritual journey. Upon arrival, he immediately has to escape angry gang members who believe Jay to be a Triad spy.

Jay does find some friends in tow
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When I started to read, I was thinking: "Such a stupid story!" but it isn't. I liked it!
Thanks to the two different narrators, reading, you slowly understand with the main character what he doesn't know about himself and his power, so you learn with him.
The story looked so real that I cloud believe there are people like Jay Li.
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: charles-de-lint
charles is back!

i've enjoyed charles de lint's urban fantasies for years and when he announced a while back that he would be abandoning his fictional city of newford, home base of most of his fiction for 20 years, i figured he was over. and his next couple of books, while not terrible, were not particularly great either -- it seemed he'd lost his mojo without a place to center his stories.

now with this book, it would seem he has one again -- or, if not a place, at least a good mythological base
Alistair M
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I enjoyed the first fifty pages of this and anticipated great things from it. For one: Asian protagonist. Finally. Thank you. Second: the mythology and lore that was showing up really intrigued me. Unfortunately by the end, I had to decide this was not the book for me. I found the pacing slow: it went in fits and bursts of speed that quickly petered out. The characters never really congealed in my mind as full-fledged human beings, they only felt like half-constructed, pale imitations of real pe ...more
Ade Couper
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was genuinely moving and magical.

Jay Li is a yellow dragon : that is, he's a 17 year-old boy, who happens to be a dragon. He moves from his home in Chicago to a small town in Arizona, which is pretty much overrun by gangs. How does the dragon with Jay react when 1 of his friends is killed...?

Charles de Lint is, for me, the best urban fantasy writer currently working. Not only does he tell an engaging tale- & tell it very well- he makes his characters seem real, 3-dimensional, with flaws
Douglas Smith
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book and a book full of wonder. I always enjoy spending time with de Lint's characters. They are so well drawn, and the characters in this book are no exception--each is unique and deeply human, each with flaws, but flaws that you can forgive, more easily than the characters forgive themselves, which makes them that much more likeable. The mythology in the book is rich and deep. But most of all, the book goes far beyond the good-versus-evil confrontation that the initial setup would ...more
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I was a little unsure going into this book, as YA isn't my favourite. This story, however, took me right back to Someplace to be Flying, one of my favourite books of all time. I didn't find it campy, like some of CdL's other YA and recent releases(I find he tries too hard to incorporate awkward slang and current technology, which distracts from the story and the characters). Instead, it was straight from that place of mystery and magic that captured my heart in the first place.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
It took me some time to finish this book. The fist couple of pages were really entertained and it had some mystery, I liked the story and the characters were interesting, but as more as I read it was starting to become boring and nothing really surprise me and engage me, and the characters become weak instead of powerful which I thought it would be the opposite, but anyways it is not a bad book its just that it did not surprising.
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
My sister just sent me this book off my wishlist... can't wait to start reading it -- thank goodness I just finished Discord's Apple so I'm between books AND I have tomorrow off!!!

Thank goodness for long weekends. I had lots to do but still read my new book! Classic de Lint. Loved it.
Julie Czerneda
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story, with original, real characters. The blending of Chinese and Mexican (and American) cultures produced something truly special. Not to mention the dragons. And the landscape? Wow. I've friends in New Mexico who have told me it looks like this -- now I really have to see for myself, after reading this book.
Highly recommended.
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, urban-fantasy
This was published in 2010 and I don't know how it got past me!!!

I'm saying nothing. Read it if you like urban fantasy, de Lint is one of my favorites.

This is perhaps his first YA novel so not quite as uh "dense" as his other books. A fine YA novel.
Alison (Lady Coffin) S
Great YA story by one of my favorite Urban Fantasy writers.
Jonathan King
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
The more I think about this book, the less I like it, although not for the reasons most people mention. I thought the dialogue was fine, and it certainly had a lot going for it with its urban fantasy premise and focus on a non-white cast.

But the story doesn’t have much of an arc to it. The part that should be the climax happens about halfway through the book, and then the story just sort of keeps going, wrapping up what feel like subplots for the next hundred or so pages. It’s so nonchalant and
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I love a number of de Lint books, he's amazing, but this one is a slog primarily because all the teenagers' voices are the same and inauthentic. All Mary Sues as well. The story is just telling in an amiable adult voice imagining a sanitized set of characters. I can only assume it was a book he was urged to write, rather than one he felt the urge to write. Still a huge fan.
Catherine Fitzsimmons
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
More of a journey than a story. Not as gripping as some of his work, particularly late in the book when the physical tension gives way to emotional, but still a fun read. 3.5 stars, by de Lint standards.
Vince Hancock
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, very worth reading

...but not his best. I still prefer his Newford tales, where he seems to blossom in fertile ground. But well worth seeing for yourself.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Definitely one of my favorite Charles de Lint stories so far. An easy world to fall into and a fun story that kept you wanting to read just a little more each time.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Clearly for a younger audience:
Dec 14, 2010 rated it liked it

The Painted Boy is a standalone novel by Charles de Lint, following a young Chinese-American teenager, Jay Li. When he was 11 years old, a painted dragon appeared on his back, signaling that in the future he may wield the power of his inner dragon. When Jay turns 17, he travels from Chicago’s Chinatown to Santo del Vado Viejo, Arizona as part of his spiritual journey. Upon arrival, he immediately has to escape angry gang members who believe Jay to be a Tri
Ravenous Biblioworm
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5/5

This book excels in many ways. There are multiple things that make this book a 5 star for me. One of them being memorable. Though slow at times, DeLint gives us a rich and believable characters to delve into and that more than makes up for the slow pacing. Why 5 stars if it’s slow? It’s slow because the book takes the time to actualy paint the characters. Jay is a troubled teen. Not troubled in the sense of doing bad activities, but trouble with that fact that he’s a part of the yello
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book by successful and personal favorite author Charles Delint takes the reader through a journey and is filled with eye catching moments and question filled scenarios. This book was recommended to me by a librarian who knew me very well and my personal interests, he specifically told me that once I start reading this book that my eyes will not leave it and he was right. I finished the book in 3 days and considering how big it is,3 days doesn't sound possible. Charles Delint takes you to a ...more
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
The southwestern US desert seemed like an unusual setting for a de Lint novel at first, but the magic that is characteristic of his stories quickly made itself apparent. Those who have read his work before will recognize the animal spirits before they are explained.

Jay Li is a teenager sent from Chicago to the border town of Santo del Vado Viejo by his grandmother, Paupau. He’s got a picture of a golden dragon on his back- not a tattoo, but a design that rose, painfully, through his skin when h
Alex Fayle
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’ve been thinking about The Painted Boy for a few weeks without knowing exactly what to say. After all, it’s Charles de Lint, my idol author since the mid 1980s. What could I write that doesn’t come across as super fan-geeky?

Because really, the book is classic de Lint at his best. There’s a great mix of points of view and narrative styles without any head-hopping going on. There are real life problems mixed with mythic themes. There’s wonder combined with cynicism. And there’s coming of age and
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!

The only thing that I disliked about this book wa
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Charles de Lint is the much beloved author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children's books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library's Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint's b ...more
“Yes, no. I don't know. It's all so confusing. I'm just a kid."
Abuelo smiled. "You kept saying that while you told me your story, but what does it mean?"
"That I'm too young to have to be making decisions like this."
"You're never too young to do the right thing," Abuelo said.”
More quotes…