So this week the Tucker Free Library was lucky enough to score some new books, all of which are pretty awesome. There is The Madbury Lens for those of you who have strong stomachs and love horror. For the reader who enjoys a more realistic family drama, why then The Sweetness of Salt is the book for you. And if you love music and insurmountable odds, then I highly recommend Five Flavors of Dumb. We also have a new book by Charles de Lint, The Painted Boy. I while I could go on forever about my love for Charles de Lint’s writing, you might get bored with me. So I decided to get a friend to do it for me.
Christina Franke is a phenomenal librarian who I had the extreme fortune of meeting while at school. We were team members on the University of Pittsburgh Book Cart Drill Team, and spent much time twirling book carts around while dressed up as skeletons. Christina has what may be the best super power in the world: the awesome ability to read advanced copies of books before they are officially released. We benefit from this power, for she can give us the inside scoop on what is coming up in the fast paced world of Young Adult literature. She tolerates my love for zombies and in return I have forced her to read many zombie books. You don’t have to tell me, I already know that I am a great friend. So with out further ado, here is a review of The Painted Boy by the spectacular Christina Franke!
Jay Li thought he was a normal boy until, at the age of eleven, a tattoo of a golden dragon spread itself across his back in one painful day. This means that he is a yellow dragon, selected to protect like many throughout his line, which runs back to the time of the emperor in China. His grandmother Paupau is a dragon too; she teaches him with riddles and breathing exercises but will tell him nothing concrete. This is understandably frustrating. It is decided that he will leave, as part of his training and go prove himself as a dragon somewhere. He chooses a new place by pointing at a map and then moves to his new home, Santo del Vado Viejo. Quickly, he makes new friends and new enemies in this desert town. His life has more meaning now than ever before and he loves living there, except that he keeps discovering new abilities and responsibilities. How can he live a real life if he actually is a dragon?
Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!
The only thing that I disliked about this book was some unevenness in the point of view, which may have been sorted out in the finalized copy of the book. Most of the story is told in third person and follows various characters. Occasionally though, a section will be given the heading “Jay” and will be told from Jay’s perspective. While this is clear, it does feel a bit like cheating. Either do the whole book from Jay’s perspective or do it all in third person. This might not have bothered me had it felt like there was any reason for these four or so sections to be from his point of view; I really do not think that these windows to his thoughts added anything that could not have been done with the third person narration.
Jay has a major task to accomplish and a bad guy to take down, which is typical for a fantasy novel, but that is not the real focus of the novel. The Painted Boy is first and foremost a Bildungsroman, a coming of age story for Jay. The focus is placed on his inner development and not on the external struggle. Do not think that this means the book lacks plot or excitement because of this.
If you like this review and want to check out others by Ms. Franke go to : http://readeroffictions.blogspot.com/