About the Book
Title: Dragon Defender (Dragon Defense League, Book #1)
Author: J.A. Blackburn
Publication Date: October 19, 2013
Publisher: Pip & Grey
Number of pages: 242
Recommended age: 10+
For over a thousand years dragons have existed in secret . . .
Peter Clark can build a robot from scratch and pick a lock in two minutes or less. But he can’t figure out why his mother left or why his grandma refuses to talk about her. When Uncle Dominick shows up on Peter’s twelfth birthday with a letter that hints at answers and an incredible story about dragons, Peter follows him, determined to find out the truth about his mother’s disappearance.
What he finds is a reality far different from what he ever could have imagined – where dragons live in hiding, hunted by poachers for their magical parts, and a small group of men and women work tirelessly to protect them. These are the Dragon Defenders. Peter’s uncle is one. So was his mother. Now it’s Peter’s turn.
* Finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Literary Contest *
My Thoughts: Author J. A. Blackburn wastes no time setting up the intrigue in the story when, late at night during the biggest storm of the year, there is an urgent knocking on the door. Twelve-year-old Peter, a young inventor, opens the door to discover an uncle (Dominick) that he never knew he had. Further family secrets are revealed and Peter is shocked to discover that he is the last in a long line of “Dragon Defenders”.
In hiding for thousands of years, dragons are still hunted for their magical properties by a small number of poachers around the world. It is up to Peter and the rest of the Dragon Defender League to protect the dragons against extinction. When Peter and his uncle cross the border into Mexico, Peter is tasked with retrieving an egg laid by a very rare dragon, the Cuélebre. But little does he know the danger he is about to face along with the forging of a very special relationship that will last a lifetime ~ one between a boy and his first dragon.
Dragon Defender is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that drew me in from the first page and kept me riveted until the final page. Peter is a sympathetic main character whom we first meet when he is living with his grandmother after both his parents die. He is a humble genius who proves to be resourceful and loyal to his two new friends: Xana, a young girl staying at a local eco-lodge; and Mario, a young Mexican boy who initially tries to swindle Peter and Xana, but who proves to be a great friend. Peter, Xana, and Mario are the three main protagonists in the story, but there are several other interesting characters who play key roles in the story – some of which meet rather unfortunate ends. Yes, some of the characters (antagonists) do die in the story.
The most intriguing of all the characters in the story is the dragon – the mythical Cuélebre named Ix-Tub-Tun. In many stories (with some exceptions of course), dragons are typically depicted as evil and dangerous. In this story, the author presents the reader with a unique perspective – that of the dragon defender. The idea of hunting a dragon for its magical properties is not necessarily new, but the idea of a league of people sworn to protect and defend the dragons is fresh and original. What I loved about the development of the plot is that, as the reader, we are never certain as to whether the dragon will be a danger to Peter, who is in possession of her egg.
There were other mysteries threaded throughout the story as well such as, what really happened to Peter’s mother? And, why is the dragon referring to Peter as “The One”? There is clearly much more story to be told. I read Dragon Defender in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. I will definitely be lining up for Book #2 when the time comes. There is a Book 2 coming, right?!
My Bottom Line: I thought Dragon Defender was exceptionally well-written with a suspense-filled plot filled with twists, turns, and danger; characters who are well-developed and interesting; and enough intrigue left unresolved as to leave the reader wanting more. I want more! My one caveat is that there are human deaths by dragons that are somewhat violent, so I would recommend this book to children aged 10+ with a warning of violence.
* I was given a copy of this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. *
More Buzz About the Book
“We read an advance copy of this book on kindle earlier this year and our 5th grade son read it twice and is anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. Great adventure, really kept our interest reading it together at night. This was one of the kids books I most enjoyed reading myself as well. The characters and the plot are well developed, and appealing to a wide range of kids (both genders). The writing is sophisticated but easy to understand, not ‘dumbed down’ like many kids books. The subject of dragons was so well crafted that it’s easy believe that dragons just might exist, after all.” ~ 5 Star Review, Leigh A., Amazon
“Reminiscent of the Fablehaven series (with just the right touch of Harry P.) this middle grade book is both an adventure and a pleasure…Fast-paced and full of wonder, this book takes middle grade readers on a vivid journey from the southwestern U.S. to Mexico; where jungles, ancient ruins and local folklore add to the enchantment that Peter finds when he discovers that dragons are in fact, real. As a former elementary school teacher, my strong feeling is that kids will eat this book whole, and then turn to searching for dragon eggs in their own backyards!” ~ 5 Star Review, Grace W., Amazon
“Dragon Defender was an absorbing action packed read! The author pulls you in from the first page and I’m not sorry to say I read it all in the first day. I’m 33 but still! This is a fun book for a chapter a night with your 5 year old (my son is loving it so far) or for yourself. The characters are well developed so you feel like you’re really there, and the dragon is so believable. I’d venture so far as to say I had to remind myself that dragons don’t really exist…. or do they?” ~ 5 Star Review, MGC, Amazon
About the Author: J.A. Blackburn
J. A. Blackburn lives in Seattle, Washington in a small white house overlooking the sea with her husband, Jason, her son, Camden, and their dog, Bella. Dragon Defender is her first novel.
Dragon Defender Blog Tour Schedule (2014)
* $50 Blog Tour Giveaway *
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: January 6th to January 31, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, J.A. Blackburn and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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