My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Although I had to read this book over the course of weeks during a move and other stressful events, I got caught up in the story’s emotion each time. Before the end, I cried three times. Tears alone don’t make me decide a book is great. But the reasons I cried went a long way—courage and sacrifice presented in a creative way.
In the short foreword, Kevin Gerard explains how promoting another fantasy series he wrote gave him the idea for this one. He gave a dragon statue to a boy as a contest prize, and a few weeks later thought about such a prize coming to life. He decided Latino boys needed more heroes, and I agree. Parents should note that there’s some minor swearing and violence, including domestic, handled in a realistic way that should increase awareness and help children realize they are not alone in having to deal with alcoholism or drug abuse in their families.
The hero of the story is eleven-year-old Diego Ramirez, who soon finds himself doubting his sanity when his prize dragon comes to life. Nobody else seems to notice. But there’s a pretty girl involved who Diego admires, and she knows something he doesn’t. What aggravated me most was head-hopping, reading other characters’ thoughts in a book started with Diego’s point of view. Although I doubt tweens will notice, the bigger issue was getting too much information through those thoughts. Most of those ideas would have better remained a mystery for longer than they did. Foreshadowing through dialog and events would have been enough.
As I read, I decided the book rated a 4 for adults because of the head-hopping, some other editing problems, and either a logic flaw or unclear explanation involving a sacrifice that didn’t balance. On closing the book, I realized the strong characterization and plot, including torn loyalties, sacrifice, and redemption, plus an ending that was anything but pat, more than made up for the problems. I couldn’t give less than 5 stars for the target audience, middle graders. If I could, I would give more than 5 stars for Latino tweens, especially boys, and to the author for his efforts in their behalf. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Before you go, please tell me if you have someone in mind to read this book and why. Then if you have time, scroll back through the last few posts for open giveaways and stop by the other books featured at Mommynificent’s Booknificent Thursday. Thanks for visiting!