Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Readers, if you like non-stop action, look no further. Trapped on Draconica is like running a marathon while hooked to an amphetamine IV.
It all begins with your typical troubled teenage boy. Ben has fallen into the wrong crowd, shoplifting and generally being a pain in the butt to his adoptive mother. During one afternoon, a foiled heist leaves him running from the police, wishing he was anywhere but there, and suddenly, his wish comes true. He wakes up on a planet called Draconica, and that's when the marathon begins. An evil emperor named Gothon is bent on world domination and decides that Ben is the key to his goal. Lucky for Ben, he's got a VERY supportive team on his side. They all set out on a quest to stop Gothon and rally more armies to their cause.
Because so much happens over the course of this 400+ page book, I won't reiterate any more story line, but I'll talk about some of the characters, because they're what kept me enthralled.
Princess Daniar--She's a Dragonkin, as are her three sisters, part human, but imbued with the powers of an ancient dragon. She can fly, breathe fire, is super strong and resilient. What I liked best about her was that she never killed anyone if she could help it, though there were times when I WANTED her to, and she was very tempted to, yet she held to her convictions. Tough, tough heroine, extremely loyal and protective. I just didn't quite agree with her choice of men.
Which brings me to Prince Kalak. He's one of the few remaining Leonidans left after Emperor Gothon's army destroyed his people. Though he is a formidable ally in the team that's rallying around Ben, he's also got a personal grudge against Gothon, and he's determined to fulfill his vengeance, by whatever means necessary. Daniar ends up falling for him, and though I almost felt the connection as to why, it just wasn't convincing enough for me. He was a REAL jerk in the beginning, to say it lightly, and even with his softer side revealed, I needed more at the point of their connection to make me believe that he was good enough to deserve Daniar. He did suffer a lot, the poor guy, and in the end, I was in his camp, but I just needed a bit more a bit sooner.
Ritchie--He's Kalak's pet, a talking tiger with a speech impediment, and he's completely adorable. I love how he reminded me of Cringer from the He-Man series. What's best about him is that he is rather the glue that holds this volatile team together.
Taurok--He's a Shadori, with dark skin and pointed ears like a dark elf, and probably my favorite character of them all. As the General of Emperor Gothon's army, he's been ordered to kill Daniar and bring Ben to Gothon (alive). His motives are complex, and he comes across as an extremely sympathetic character. You don't want to see him succeed, but you still root for him to have some victory. This guy was just perfectly written, IMO.
In conclusion, Trapped on Draconica was my first experience with Manga-style literature. Some readers might feel the plot borders on cheesy at times with the one-liners and a few predictable outcomes, but after I read briefly on the history of Manga, I think it fits well with the genre. I'm still confused as to why there was no cursing at all. Having the troubled Ben say "Oi" instead of *&^% didn't seem to fit, unless it was written for a younger crowd (early teens?), in which case, it works.
Even with those minor issues, the story was captivating, the illustrations by Alexis Centino were stunning and fit perfectly, and I'm worn out having read it! For a great fantasy adventure with super artwork suited for young teens and up, I'd highly recommend Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright. Go grab a copy today!
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