Book Reviews of Dragonhaven

Dragonhaven
Dragonhaven
Author: Robin McKinley
ISBN-13: 9780399246753
ISBN-10: 0399246754
Pages: 272
Rating:
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 32

3.3 stars, based on 32 ratings
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Dragonhaven on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I enjoyed reading this book since it was a change from the usual "history" type recount and more of a contemporary setting. It's set in Modern Day USA and written from the point of view and experiences of a teen-aged boy who really doesn't want to write it but has to because of his job and the help it will give to the preservation of the species of dragons that few people ever see from a long distance and rarer still from a close-up and personal situation. In fact most people up to the time the incidents in the book happen deny there are dragons. The main character has the usual teen-age complaints especially since he is the son of a conservator or "Park Ranger" type Forest Service administrator who is bound to his calling no matter the problems of beaureaucratic aspect of the requirements of his job (and those requirements are onerous to say the least)out in the middle of nowhere. I felt in some ways that the author was a little clumsy in representing and expressing the feelings of a "teen-ager", but she puts him in some really gut-wrenching life situations - so that may account for it. Ultimately, it is a very refreshing look at the possibility of "if there were dragons - what would they be like?" and "what we do to save the rapidly dwindling numbers of them".
reviewed Dragonhaven on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

For his entire life, Jacob Mendoza has lived in Smokehill National Park, one of the last and largest wildlife preserves for Draco australiensis in the world. His father, who heads the Institute dedicated to the study of the endangered dragons, has kept a tight leash on him since Jacob's mother died while on sabbatical a few years ago. Finally, though, Jacob's father has agreed to let him finally go on his first solo overnight stay deep in the park.

Although not as excited as he probably would have been about it before his mother's death, Jacob hikes out on his own, determined to cover some good ground before he has to meet up with the head Ranger the following morning. However, his plans for doing so are cut short when he comes across a horrific site.

A wounded mother dragon who has just given birth lies next to the remains of the poacher who presumably attacked her. Jacob creeps up to the massive creature and finds himself drowning in her eyes before she dies, leaving him with strange sensations of anger, despair, and hope swirling inside him. Stunned and crying, he begins to stumble away, passing by her babies who are now scattered on the ground...and he notices that one is still alive.

Instinct takes over, and Jacob now finds himself a surrogate mother for a creature that nobody knows how to raise. What's worse is that, now that a dragon has killed a human, all of Smokehill may be gravely in danger, for, not only is it against the law to kill a dragon, but it is also against the law to save one's life.

Although I enjoyed watching the bonding of Jacob and his foundling, and the descriptions of some of these otherworldly sensations impressed me, I found this book very difficult to read. Jacob as narrator tends to ramble a lot, and he "speaks" in an extremely informal manner. However, some readers may find this style more appealing and easier to understand than traditional narration. The idea of a dragon preserve is nevertheless an appealing one, and I think that any fans of dragons may find this story fascinating if for that reason only.
reviewed Dragonhaven on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I have to admit--there was a time when the genre had become so saturated with mediocre knockoffs of the few truly great dragon tales that I shuddered to see even one more book with dragon in the title taking up shelf space at the bookstore. Robin McKinley, on the other hand, can write books of such immediacy and elegance of prose that I rushed home from the bookstore with her newest book clutched in my hands and glee in my heart. Alas, in this book RM seems to have suffered some injury rendering her writing all exposition, all the time. I kid you not. Only my faith in RM kept me slogging through page after page of exposition 'til when about halfway through when, despite my distaste for the tell, tell, tell mode of writing, the story engaged me. What a relief for I was truly afeared. And what a relief to find a dragon tale that grapples with the rude and crude realities of grasping for connection between two very disparate creatures. And what a relief to encounter no destined heros, magic swords, or damsels in distress though there was a clear struggle against evil...by the reader in enduring the unending exposition. Setting the story in the near future/alternate contemporary reality is a feat worthy of RM.
reviewed Dragonhaven on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

For his entire life, Jacob Mendoza has lived in Smokehill National Park, one of the last and largest wildlife preserves for Draco australiensis in the world. His father, who heads the Institute dedicated to the study of the endangered dragons, has kept a tight leash on him since Jacob's mother died while on sabbatical a few years ago. Finally, though, Jacob's father has agreed to let him finally go on his first solo overnight stay deep in the park.

Although not as excited as he probably would have been about it before his mother's death, Jacob hikes out on his own, determined to cover some good ground before he has to meet up with the head Ranger the following morning. However, his plans for doing so are cut short when he comes across a horrific site.

A wounded mother dragon who has just given birth lies next to the remains of the poacher who presumably attacked her. Jacob creeps up to the massive creature and finds himself drowning in her eyes before she dies, leaving him with strange sensations of anger, despair, and hope swirling inside him. Stunned and crying, he begins to stumble away, passing by her babies who are now scattered on the ground...and he notices that one is still alive.

Instinct takes over, and Jacob now finds himself a surrogate mother for a creature that nobody knows how to raise. What's worse is that, now that a dragon has killed a human, all of Smokehill may be gravely in danger, for, not only is it against the law to kill a dragon, but it is also against the law to save one's life.

Although I enjoyed watching the bonding of Jacob and his foundling, and the descriptions of some of these otherworldly sensations impressed me, I found this book very difficult to read. Jacob as narrator tends to ramble a lot, and he "speaks" in an extremely informal manner. However, some readers may find this style more appealing and easier to understand than traditional narration. The idea of a dragon preserve is nevertheless an appealing one, and I think that any fans of dragons may find this story fascinating if for that reason only.
reviewed Dragonhaven on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

For his entire life, Jacob Mendoza has lived in Smokehill National Park, one of the last and largest wildlife preserves for Draco australiensis in the world. His father, who heads the Institute dedicated to the study of the endangered dragons, has kept a tight leash on him since Jacob's mother died while on sabbatical a few years ago. Finally, though, Jacob's father has agreed to let him finally go on his first solo overnight stay deep in the park.

Although not as excited as he probably would have been about it before his mother's death, Jacob hikes out on his own, determined to cover some good ground before he has to meet up with the head Ranger the following morning. However, his plans for doing so are cut short when he comes across a horrific site.

A wounded mother dragon who has just given birth lies next to the remains of the poacher who presumably attacked her. Jacob creeps up to the massive creature and finds himself drowning in her eyes before she dies, leaving him with strange sensations of anger, despair, and hope swirling inside him. Stunned and crying, he begins to stumble away, passing by her babies who are now scattered on the ground...and he notices that one is still alive.

Instinct takes over, and Jacob now finds himself a surrogate mother for a creature that nobody knows how to raise. What's worse is that, now that a dragon has killed a human, all of Smokehill may be gravely in danger, for, not only is it against the law to kill a dragon, but it is also against the law to save one's life.

Although I enjoyed watching the bonding of Jacob and his foundling, and the descriptions of some of these otherworldly sensations impressed me, I found this book very difficult to read. Jacob as narrator tends to ramble a lot, and he "speaks" in an extremely informal manner. However, some readers may find this style more appealing and easier to understand than traditional narration. The idea of a dragon preserve is nevertheless an appealing one, and I think that any fans of dragons may find this story fascinating if for that reason only.
reviewed Dragonhaven on
I am a huge fan of Robin McKinley. This isn't one of my favorite of her books, but I still really liked it. It was very imaginative in it's description of what it would be like to have dragons, to spend ones whole life protecting even the memory of them.
reviewed Dragonhaven on + 19 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book. I would LOVE to write the kind of review that just blows your mind and makes you WANT to read this book, but I don't think I can do it justice. Yes, I'm a *HUGE* McKinley fan (started reading her work in 5th grade and I'm in my 30's now...!) After she branched off with some of her other works (Sunshine, though it won awards and was *interesting*, was NOT a "McKinley" book in the vein of most of her other great novels), I just wasn't sure where she was going anymore.

Dragonhaven is different than The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown (my two favorites), but it was REALLY good. I really liked the conversational tone of the narrator (a boy this time) and truly felt involved in the story (which is SUCH a neat trick of hers!) The characters are interesting, though I could have used even MORE background on a few of them; it was strange: she almost rambled about some of the extras too much - but then, later, I wanted to know them more...! I also would have liked a few more answers to WHAT happened to his mother - but I digress.

Is the book different? Yes, it is. Do ALL of your questions get answered? No - but it does come close and has a very interesting, satisfying ending.

Damn, but it made me LIKE dragons and see them in a whole new light! Lois was - for lack of a better description - very VERY cool and his relationship with her was so nurturing and amazing. The bond was really tangible.

There's a real "conservation of nature" theme - as well as some not so subtle references to how we, as humans, tend to conquer a land as well as it's inhabitants, with no real conscience as to what we're doing (i.e., the way America took land from the Indians who lived here long before we arrived... how we took over things and really didn't do such a great job of CARING about HOW we did it or who/what we hurt along the way.

This is a very interesting book for those that like the fantasy genre and McKinley in particular. She does give you a satisfying ending. It's nice to get surprisingly caught up in your characters and really want to know EVERYTHING about HOW things were pulled off the way they were. By the end, I could hardly put it down! I really hope she winds up revisiting this world again so I can find out about everything that happens AFTER the ending - and I really enjoy that! I hope YOU enjoy it, too....!