Thursday, September 11, 2014

Melody Jackson - The Dragon Within

The Dragon Within

By Melody Jackson

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

Are dragons good...or evil? 

Kaena Armae doesn’t really care either way. No one’s seen a dragon in over twenty years, so why should she even care? 

But when she comes face to face with the shocking truth in the forest near her home, she is forced to choose sides in a feud that 
started centuries ago. 

And the real war is just beginning. 

Now, Kaena must convince opposing sides to join together to combat an ancient evil, or face the destruction of their whole world, forever. 

But what if they’re fighting the wrong enemy?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Melody Jackson lives in the unbearably hot state of Arizona, (well, at least it's a dry heat) and enjoys writing, singing, playing guitar, and, well, more writing. She lives with her crazy family, as well as a menagerie of animals, including her four siblings, cats, and one grumpy chinchilla.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I have mixed feelings about this book.

For an author's first book, it wasn't bad, In fact, I found it to be a very clever slant on dragons. The character cast was engaging, the worldbuilding delightful, and the spiritual truths well done. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and I had NO idea how things could possibly sort themselves out. However the characters also had a habit of falling flat, and the plot jerked uncomfortably in places, and there were formatting issues.

The book begins with a Kaena trying to catch a chicken that has run into the forest - dragon territory. When she actually runs into a dragon and finds herself able to communicate telepathically, and, when men attack and she's able to use a sword despite - as far as she can remember at least - never having picked one up in her life, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. Then the dragon gives her an egg, which hatches in her bedroom, and she then has to conceal the cute baby dragon that grows, as is typical of dragons, rather quickly. The common opinion on dragons is that they should be eradicated.

Her brother, Jarden, is of that opinion. In fact, he's working with the guy who's at the head of dragon eradication, who he thinks is his uncle. He discovers her baby dragon, and tries to get her to give it up. When she refuses, he feels he has no choice but to bring the matter to the "uncle."

With help from her father, who has also realized that she has a dragon, but is on the dragon's side, she escapes, and flies away to the house of someone who he told her would help her. While there, she discovers that her memory had been wiped as a child, and that her real parents are leaders on the dragon's side, and that she used to come here as for sword training. But even here she isn't safe and she and Toran, the son in this household, have to run again. Eventually, they end up where her parents are, and then in the middle of a war.

It was a very detailed world, and I can tell that Melody put a lot of time and effort into it, though I found a few details, such as timing, hazy. Also, one of my favorite characters, Treya, is obviously half dragon - she has a pair of blue wings - but when you meet her parents, both appear to be human. Also, I would have liked a scene where she and her half brother actually sat down and talked about their relationship once he found out about it, but it never happened.

As for the spiritual side, while I really liked how she managed the theme of how everyone has an evil nature, "the dragon within" per se, and especially Jarden's struggle. However the Sacrifice scene, while it isn't the worst allegory ever done, there was a high level of "blink and you miss it," and I think I blinked. Also, the Jesus character was a bit too fond of "bending the rules" for me to be comfortable with.

And, finally, the formatting. I don't like to bring formatting into reviews, but this one had two big issues. I read the Smashwords version, and I don't know if Kindle has the same issue, but first of all, the book is in the file twice. Literally. Part of the reason I had no idea what was going to happen next was that, I thought I wasn't yet half-way through the book when things started to tie up. And then it ended and went into character lists and such. And then the story started over. The other problem was that, in the first go-round of the story, the first line of every chapter was missing. The same didn't seem to be true of the second go-round when I skimmed over it to confirm that, yes, the book was here twice.

But all that aside, this was a very good book for a first-time author, and I enjoyed my journey through this world that Melody created. The plot was thought-provoking. And, while I went into the book hoping for a story about half-dragons (for some reason, I had that theme on my mind when I came across the book), I wasn't disappointed in the plot I found. I fully intend to read the sequel when it comes out.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Dragons, Adventure, Christian 

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Mature TEEN - high school to college 
ADULT - self-explanatory 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at. I think there was a kiss at the wedding at the end, but that would be as far as it went. 
Other: Lots of fighting and people dying. At one point, Teran goes to a 

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