Friday, April 12, 2013

The Last Dragonslayer.

The Last Dragonslayer
by: Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic
This book is absolutely brilliant! It was really funny and clever and just so creative. This is my first Jasper Fforde book I've read and I entirely plan to read more (next up is probably the Thursday Next series which sounds awesome!) very soon.
Things I liked:
1. Jennifer Strange
Basically Jennifer was an awesome protagonist for this story. She was really sarcastic and clever and very genuine. And goodness, she had a lot of things she had to deal with, what with power-hungry monarchs, a confusing dragon, and a very important prophecy to fulfill. My favorite part about her was that she didn't pretend to go along with the unethical things going on, no matter what. She stood her ground and had to find a way around all the obstacles that stupid people put in her way.
2. Quarkbeast
So maybe I want a Quarkbeast now. I never got tired of him interrupting an important conversation with that all-inclusive word, "Quark." Also, now I'm sad.
3. The Whole Cast of Characters
From my favorites (Moobin, Kevin Zipp, and Tiger) to the ones I loved to hate (Mawgon and Gordon von Gordon), all of the side characters added hilarity and depth to the story. The little bit that we got to know these characters just made me want to know them more. Jasper Fforde must have so much creativity to come up with all of these different characters (not to mention this whole world.
4. The Setting and the World Building
This world was so unique and so cool because it was basically England nowadays with magic (albeit waning magic) and dragons. But at the same time, it doesn't come off cheesy or stupid. It ends up being this really interesting mix between fantasy and real life. The world building is what makes it so convincing because it's some of the best world building I've ever read (and on a tricky subject too). The amount of fake (and hilarious) history he had to come up with blew my mind in the best possible way.
I loved the tale of Mu'shad Waseed and the Mighty Shandar that Mother Zenobia told Jennifer and I loved all the magic science that was involved in this book (a shandar and a giga-shandar and Big Magic). It was all so well-thought out and perfectly executed.
5. Tiger
Tiger gets his own number as well as a mention in my favorite side characters section because I love him that much. I sort of wish all 12 year old boys were like him because he was hilarious and way too smart and just awesome. GAH. I want to see a whole lot more of Tiger in the other books of the series.
6. The Humor
This sort of quirky-book-humor is right up my alley. I loved that Zambini was shamed because he worked at kid birthday parties and the fact that King Snodd's brother's official title was the Useless Brother. And all of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) almost satirical references to big corporation greed and how stupid the media is were most welcomed and enjoyed.
Just a few examples of laugh-out-loud moments in the book:
"Frightful, frightful woman. Her love of glittery things, fine robes, and bathing in rabbit's milk set feminism back four centuries."
"Yogi darling! yelled his producer, holding the telephone, "I've got the Zebra Society on the phone. They think we're negatively portraying zebras as passive victims. Will you have a word? They're a bit upset."
..."And I've got Vulture Foundation on line two. They think your program is spreading unfair stereotypes about a noble bird."
7. The Writing
The thing that struck me the most about this writing style is that while very accessible, it was also very clever. What I mean is, it wasn't hard to read and it didn't take loads of concentration yet it still was very witty in its roots. You didn't have to look very hard to see the humor but you could appreciate how brilliant it was. This is a combination that is undoubtedly very hard to pull off.
Things I Didn't Like:
1. Nothing
Self-explanatory. I thought this book was practically perfect and just fantastic.
"Sometimes choice is a luxury that fate does not let us afford, Miss Strange."
"That's the thing about destiny: It can't be predicted, and it's usually pretty odd."
"Powerful ideas have a life of their own; they carry on, unshakable, from person to person."

“You have many fine qualities that I admire. But you are out of time. You should have been born a century ago, when values such as yours meant something.”


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