Monday, July 2, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde

Publisher's Blurb:
In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in magic release form B1-7g. Then the magic started fading away. Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for soothsayers and sorcerers. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and even magic carpets are reduced to pizza delivery. So it's a surprise when the visions start. Not only do they predict the death of the Last Dragon at the hands of a dragonslayer, they also point to Jennifer, and say something is coming. Big Magic ...
Donald and I read this one together.  Actually, so far, all of Jasper Fforde's books that I've read have been read along with Donald.  That's worked well with some of them-- the Nursery Crimes series and Shades of Grey-- not to be confused with Fifty Shades of Grey, by the way!  (They have next to nothing in common, apart from the fact that both were written in English.)  We also read and enjoyed the first of his Thursday Next novels, but got mired somewhere in the second one.  (We've since decided that the Thursday Next series is probably better read alone.  The storyline can feel too complicated for casually reading aloud, since it takes so much longer for us to finish a book we read together than when we read individually.  ...Or maybe the second book in the series simply wasn't as interesting as the first.)  

But back to The Last Dragonslayer...   
This series is written with a YA audience in mind.  While that doesn't mean that it's not an enjoyable read for adults, also, it does seem to be less... everything than Fforde's other books.  A shorter story, a less involved plot, less character development... fewer laugh-out-loud moments.  Now, there were some funny parts-- and Fforde always seems to do a good job of creating interesting quirks in his alternate realities / parallel universes-- but I think I like the Shades of Grey and Nursery Crime series better.  Still, this could be ideal for a pre-teen who likes light/comic fantasy.  It would be a nice introduction to the genre, even though the teenaged protagonist (Jennifer Strange) feels less like a typical teenager than a capable and nearly autonomous adult.  (But hey, that's probably how preteens like to envision "teenagerhood", anyway, so...)

One last spoiler-ish comment:
Something I didn't like so much was the inclusion of the evil corporation ConStuff (Consolidated Useful Stuff).  It's just too easy and predictable of a target.  Meh.  Not my favorite aspect of the book, to say the least.