Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Slayers by C.J. Hill

by C.J. Hill
September 27, 2011
Received ARC from NetGalley
Amazon Page
Goodreads Page
Grade: B

Synopsis: Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Review:  When I first saw the synopsis of this book, I thought ‘oh hey!  Rampant with dragons!’ But I was wrong.  Slayers is much more in the Percy Jackson line (without gods obviously) with a group of superheroes by birth reuniting every summer at camp and never able to talk about camp in their regular lives.

I seriously would have done anything to go to Dragon Camp when I was a preteen or teenager!  I loved the horse camp I went to, but a whole summer with riding, archery, medieval tactics, and dragon obsessions would’ve been magic.  Literally if I’d gotten to hang out at the advanced camp with the slayers. 

Tori provides our view into the group of slayers as the new member of a team that’s been training together for four years.  She is, as the synopsis says, a spoiled rich kid who spent the previous summer at a ‘finishing school’ in Cancun and is definitely the fish out of water in the rustic surroundings.  Her uncertainty about the purpose of the group at first reads true - because seriously? a bunch of teenagers claiming to fight dragons? But since the reader knows that dragons are real and the slayers are well-intentioned, it’s also played slightly for laughs and provides some nice levity.  I also enjoyed her reaction to the idea of dedicating her life to fighting the dragons.  As much as we all hope we’d step up valiantly if we were given the opportunity to save others, I think most of us - and Tori - would have more than a few qualms at the idea.  I liked that she wasn’t immediately gung ho about her heritage and purpose and the camp itself.

The rest of the slayers fade mostly into sketched in (likeable) archetypes - there’s the snobby girls, the prankster, the gentle healer, the two immensely hot team captains (who also function as two points of a somewhat forced love triangle with Tori).  As it is, only Jesse and Dirk - the team captains - get much development.  About halfway through the book, Dirk begins to assume more prominence and starts to have his own viewpoint chapters.  The point-of-view change is a little startling, and I think alternating viewpoints might have worked better if they occurred from the beginning.

I never felt uncertain about where Slayers was headed, and none of the plot twists were terribly surprising, but the training scenarios and team interactions at Dragon Camp were very engaging.  The plot was action-packed and well-paced, and I think most readers will find it enjoyable.  Some of the dragon mythology seemed awfully convenient, but I can accept it - like the underdeveloped supporting cast of slayers - in hopes that further books will develop the mythology and other teens more fully.

The writing of Slayers is snappy with short dramatic chapters that feel made for TV.  I could almost see fade to commercial each time there was a chapter break.  While the writing was cinematic, the reading experience was extremely choppy.  However though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the style, I can definitely see people - especially boys - who may not read a lot enjoying the easily consumed and action-packed chapters.

I’m definitely interested in reading further Slayers books to see what happens as the group of heroes continue to go up against the dragons and the dragon lords who control them.  Many thanks to NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for the opportunity to read the ARC!

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