Dragons are extinct in the wild, but the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park is home to about two hundred of the world's remaining creatures. Until Jake discovers a dying dragon that has given birth - and one of the babies is still alive.
©2007 Robin McKinley (P)2013 Recorded Books
Learned to read at 3; any day I can't read at least 1 book is a day wasted. I earn my living with words as well (word processing/editing).
I loved both...I think the audio edition has a slight edge because Robin McKinley's channeling of a teenage boy when writing this has been fleshed out by a narrator that seemingly is channeling the very same (slightly crazed) teenager!
I love the little differences from our world and Robin's Dragonhaven world that are just sort of slipped in with no fanfare and cause you to suddenly, go, "um, wait...what just changed from MY world's 'normal' there??!).
I felt as though my best friend's 20-something slightly ADHD son was telling me the story (he, by the way, is very interesting to listen to, as is this story), When I started listening to this, I immediately flashed back and thought, this is just the way I heard it in my head when I was reading the paper version!
I would guess that some people would prefer a more mainstream narration, but I thoroughly enjoyed story and narration as a seamless mixture, without trying to "read" the story to me as if I were a 2-year-old, which is how some narrators approach the task.
This is one of my favorite book to re-read when on a trip. I always seem to catch some little something I missed on the other reads that makes the story even better.
Noah Galvin's reading is excellent. His voice is perfect to portray Jake, the teenage boy who is the first-person narrator of DRAGONHAVEN.
DRAGONHAVEN has all of the characteristically strong world-building of any McKinley novel. The (fictional) national park in which the story is set is brought into clear detail through Jake's story-telling. The rambunctious dragonlet, Lois, whom Jake rescues is utterly engaging and believable. McKinley's animal characters are always well-drawn, and Lois is no exception.
DRAGONHAVEN is perhaps not McKinley's strongest novel, but even a "pretty good" McKinley book is a darn good read, and Noah Galvin's reading brings the story to life.
Robin McKinley's protagonists are usually young women. In this book the main character is a teenage boy. That boy is telling his story in the first person, and it is a story which he finds hard to tell. So in the beginning the story seems rough, clumsily written. This is not a sign that Robin McKinley is a poor writer. It's an indicator that she is a masterful writer, and she is telling the story not in her own voice, but in the voice of that inexperienced young man.
And it is a wonderful story.
In much science fiction and fantasy, the aliens or talking creatures simply seem like humans in funny looking costumes. But the dragons in this story truly seem alien in their being. Their thoughts and attitudes are not human. Their point of view is not human. And they don't find it any easier to understand humans than humans can understand them.
If you have read her most popular books (The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, etc.), please don't go into this one expecting more of the same or you may be disappointed. This book is fairly different from most of her books. It needs to be taken on its own. But if you can leave all your preconceptions at the door, I think you will find this a story well worth reading.
A word about the narrator. I think his voice fits the main character admirably. He did a good job.
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