Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Prairie Fire by E. K. Johnston

While some publishers randomly send bloggers books to review, others e-mail first and ask if we would like to see a particular title. Lerner, though, knows how to really make us salivate - they send us quarterly checklists of new titles, and ask, "Which ones would you like us to send?" Once we get past the knee-jerk "all of them please!" reaction, we get to spend an hour or so looking at descriptions and making our selections, trying not to seem too greedy. 

Of course, this means we are getting books we may already be inclined to like - who is going to ask for a book that doesn't even sound good? - but sometimes, there is a book we have been WAITING for, a sequel to a book we really enjoyed last year. When it arrives, one of two things is going to happen: we will either be so pleased to have it in our hands, we find it difficult to be completely objective; or, we don't like it as much as the first, and our disappointment is proportional to the excitement we felt when we first saw it offered.


Prairie Fire

Listen! For the song of Owen Thorskgard has a second verse. 
Every dragon slayer owes the Oil Watch a period of service, and young Owen was no exception. What made him different was that he did not enlist alone. His two closest friends stood with him shoulder to shoulder. Steeled by success and hope, the three were confident in their plan. And though Siobhan McQuaid was the first bard in a generation, she managed to forge a role for herself and herald Owen as a new kind of dragon slayer for a new kind of future. 
But the arc of history is long and hardened by dragon fire. Try as they might, Owen and his friends could not twist it to their will. Not all the way. Not all together. 
Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I know the cost of even a small bend in the course of history. Listen!
was it what I had hoped for, or was I disappointed?

Let's put it this way: you know those "things only a book nerd understands" posts that go around Facebook? They need to add, "Sitting in your car at the edge of the school parking lot while your children play on the swings blissfully unaware that you are sobbing because EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE and the author is PURE EVIL* FOR DOING WHAT SHE DID!" (* But, please keep writing, Ms. Johnston!)

So...I loved it. And I hated it. And I immediately messaged my 20yo that she has to read it. And she is going to hate me for it. And then she is going to tell all her friends to read it.

You, too. Go read The Story of Owen, then this one. And, if you never speak to me again...well, I will understand. But, it's totally worth it**.

**Need more than my purely emotional response to help you decide? Okay: Characters! Three-dimensional, believable human beings you begin to care very deeply about. Politics! I don't like politics, but the machinations of different governmental entities vs. internet-savvy publicists were actually exciting. Battles! You can't go wrong in battles with dragons, and not all of them can be defeated with a sword or fire this time. Cultures! From southwestern farmers to the Haida, I didn't see any stereotypes; each group had its own definite culture, but the characters were still individual people.

Now, get thee to a library and get started!

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