Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer
Jasper Fforde

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Harcourt Children's Books


Rosy's scrawlings on The Last Dragonslayer
As per usual, Jasper Fforde has come up trumps in the writing department. This time for a young to young adult book. And I have to say, as an adult reading it I found it quiet amusing and fun.
I'd bought this book because of who wrote it, knowing Fforde's tendency to flout as many conventions as possible and create unique worlds. This, I thought, could only be good for a children's to young adult's book, no matter that I'd likely be giving up some of the witty asides. But, after waiting a while to read it for life becoming rushed, I found myself pleasantly surprised by not only the wit that remains but another feature I hadn't really been expecting, although I did suspect it might be the case. One of the greatest things about Fforde's writing, particularly for this book, is that it is brilliant for reading aloud. It just flows really well.
So, with a unique world built upon kings, castles, knights, magicians and dragons becoming industrialised big business, real estate grabs, environmental concerns and a single remaining dragon, we follow the unusual, interesting but sometimes interminably boring life of Jennifer Strange. Perhaps boring or mundane to her, that is (but not us), until she finds herself loaded with the title and responsibilities of Dragonslayer. The last Dragonslayer, as it turns out, as there's but one dragon left to slay. Her responsibilities direct her towards fair judgement but the world seems against her, from two countries ruler's to the vast majority of the population. Including some of those she works with during her normal job as a manager of several quirky magicians. Much is at stake, including a massive tract of beautiful land, supposedly extinct species, the life of the remaining dragon and even Jennifer's life.
While telling the tale of Jennifer Strange, Fforde broaches topics like quantum mechanics and how they relate to magic, our current environmental concerns by way of the treatment of the dragon's land as well as the dragon and even disassembles, to some extent, the reasons why humanity tends to destroy much of what it should protect. All the topics are made easy to approach and whether or not they are understood completely they add dimensions and character to various aspects of the story. And it is while blending these topics into the story that most of the wit is produced, making the book quite an enjoyable read for adults.
And finally, the best and most hidden aspect. I began reading this book aloud as practice for times to come. I find that while reading and writing silently I can whizz through at tremendous speeds but when it comes to reading aloud I suddenly become a halting and unsure reader with a bit of a monotone voice. This isn't exactly the best when it comes to entertaining a child through reading aloud. So practice I must and I have to say that reading this book aloud, while I might have looked a little kooky without an obvious audience, did wonders for my abilities. The writing is smooth and either as you'd predict it to be or with easy to follow material. The writing is slightly larger too, mostly for new reader eyes, but this only helps you focus. The chapters aren't too long or too short for the expected reading age and can be read one at a time with a break in between. This comes in handy when searching for a first big book for children to read from.

I'd recommend this book to: anyone searching for a fun and magical book to read, whether they are adults, teens or still budding readers.

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