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Search - Dragonhaven

Author: Robin McKinley
Jake lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the endangered dragons rarely show themselves. Jake’s never seen one except at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon—and she is dying. More than th...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780142414941
ISBN-10: 0142414948
Publication Date: 10/29/2009
Pages: 368
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.

3.4 stars, based on 30 ratings
Publisher: Firebird
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

GeniusJen avatar 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.
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swampfox28 avatar 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....!


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