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Dealing with Dragons is one of the best books I've read in a while. 'Good' doesn't do it justice. It is fantastic. It has good characters and fantastically shaped storyline. I recommend bit to kids my age, about 8-12.
I've slowly been making my way through a long list of books I've wanted to read, thanks to the recommendations of a librarian friend of mine. She couldn't sing enough praises about this book, in particular for its excellently written main character, and I'm in total agreement, for this is one of the best "fractured fairy tales" I've ever read.
In a fairy tale world filled with knights, wizards, and dragons and the like, a young princess named Cimorene grows tired of her life at the castle, and is increasingly fed up with everyone deciding what her life should be like. So one day, she finally runs away and willingly lets herself be captured by a group of dragons so she can live with them. The most kind and reasonable of the bunch, Kazul, agrees to take her in, in exchange for her helping to clean and cook and other such duties for the dragons. And so begins a series of funny misadventures as Cimorene carves out a new life for herself while chasing away knights, befriending witches, and foiling a diabolical plot by an evil wizard.
This story predates "Shrek" by a great many years, and does the "twisted fairy tale" much better. It doesn't rely on pop culture jokes and is instead funny just by the simple act of taking the usual fantasy clichés and messing with them. Cimorene is one of the best examples of a "strong female character". She's smart, capable, and can hold her own in a fight, but not at the sacrifice of making her unemotional or mean. She gets reasonably frustrated or frightened, but powers on through and keeps a cool head. And her insistence on bucking the system leads to a fair share of funny moments, like her having to correct a knight on his sword technique, to constantly outsmarting a pair of bumbling wizards.
And the world of the dragons is interesting, with their own set of rules, and a magic system that's well thought out and doesn't contradict itself. Kazul is almost a motherly figure to Cimorene, and though we stick with her the most, all the dragons that appear have unique designs and personalities (and reasonable explanations for why they don't favor princes or wizards, though in this world, they try not to cause trouble to begin with). And through the unlikely friendship of a dragon and her princess, this fantasy land that's so insistent on following "the rules" just may get turned on its head for the better.
So while this is its own, original story, if you like moves like "Shrek" or "Hoodwinked", and like seeing fairy tale tropes totally messed with, then this is the book for you. I now can't wait to check out the sequels.
This was one of the books, possibly "the" book, that honestly got me hooked on reading. Its approachable, fun, and at the time was fairly different in standing a lot of tropes on their head. I know that isn't really unique now, everyone's doing it, or trying to anyway, arguably anti-trope writing is the new trope. I've long had the full series in my bookshelf in both paper and hard back. Maybe its nostalgia but I like the old covers better than these new ones. The original paperbacks in particular had a more adult book look to them I liked that but I can also understand getting away from it. Anyway, the entire reason I bought this copy was so I could put it into the local neighborhood library enclosure I found to try and share the love. Its disappeared so hopefully someone is enjoying it. If it doesn't show back up I'll be buying another copy to replace it. That's how much I, maybe irrationally, love this series. (Going to acknowledge though, the last book, that steps away from Cimorene as a prominent character? Good but a step down from the rest.)
This is a wonderful book that uses one of my favorite genre's to create a heroine worthy of the title. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed how this book purposefully subverted stereotypes. There are enough reviews on here that I'm not going to get too detailed, but I genuinely love this book (the series really). The author has create a world with such wonderful themes for younger girls, and it builds this beautiful picture of someone who is trying to find out who she is, and she has to step outside her comfort zone to find support for that journey. It shows how just a tiny bit of bravery can lead you to the power that comes from finding yourself, the friendships you build when you are finding your way, and the way that you don't need to find happiness exactly the way everyone says you should.
::My star rating: 1-Garbage, 2-Didn't like it, 3-Good Book, 4-Wouldn't return it, 5-Phenomenal, glorious, the writing gods smile upon this one.::