Title – The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
Author – E. K. Johnston
2014 – YA – Fantasy
The Story: Lottie Thorskard is maybe the most famous dragon slayer in the world – or at least in Canada. But when she suffers a career-ending injury, she decides to move her family into the more rural town of Trondheim. Her brother Aodhan becomes Trondheim’s dragon slayer while his son Owen trains to follow in his father’s footsteps. After meeting and becoming friends with Owen, Siobhan gets much more than she bargains for when she agrees to tutor Owen and then ends up as his personal bard.
The Opening Line: Before the Thorskards came to Trondheim, we didn’t have a permanent dragon slayer.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this novel. It really reminded me a lot of some of my other favorite novels, almost as if Jasper Fforder’s Thursday Next series and Lish McBride’s Necromancer series had a baby. The novel was full of humor, imagination, and pure old fun. I thought the premise was really unique too. At first I thought it was pure fantasy, dragon slayer and all that, but it’s actually got a modern setting. Owen is just your typical teenager, failing algebra and playing soccer, but he also has to train to become a dragon slayer as his future career. I haven’t really read anything like it and I really can’t wait for a free moment to read the second novel!
Title: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
2014 – Fiction – Mystery/Science Fiction
The Story: After a virus rampages the planet, a large number of victims find themselves locked into their bodies. They are fully aware and conscious of everything that’s happening, but they can no longer use their bodies at all. A system is rapidly developed for these victims. They can gather in a virtual world known as the Agora, use a mechanical personal transport system known as a threep, or integrate with another human host for a matter of time. But when federal funding begins to dry up for these victims, known as Hadens, strange things start to happen.
The Opening Line: Haden’s syndrome is the name given to a set of continuing physical and mental conditions and disabilities initially brought on by “the Great Flu,” the influenza-like global pandemic that resulted in the deaths of more than 400 million people worldwide, either through the initial flu-like symptoms, the secondary stage of meningitis-like cerebral and spinal inflammation, or through complications arising due to the third stage of the disease, which typically caused complete paralysis of the voluntary nervous system, resulting in “lock in” for its victims.
Thoughts: Okay, aside from the longest opening line ever, the rest of the novel was pretty good. It was very different from what I initially expected though. From the official blurb, I thought it was some sort of apocalyptic dystopian novel with a virtual world component. Not really though. The Agora plays an extremely minor role in the story, with our main character spending most of his time traveling in a threep, which is a sort of robot type body into which his consciousness is integrated while his body remains at home uselessly in the care of a caretaker. The novel is a string of convoluted and complicated events, with topics ranging from politics to funding to the gap between communication between the Native American nations and the United States. There’s murder and intrigue and false leads aplenty. There’s also plenty of tech talk. It wasn’t my favorite novel ever, but I appreciate what it was.