Publication Date: March 1, 2007 (Scholastic)
The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey is the first book of a young adult series, David Rain, a 20-year-old college student, rents a room from Liz Pennykettle and her 10-year-old daughter, Lucy. Liz and her daughter make odd clay dragons that they sell, and Lucy makes a special dragon for David. Inspired by the dragon, David begins to write a story for Lucy finding that what he writes seems to happen.
I have heard that there’s no such thing as a kid who hates books, simply a kid who hasn’t found the right book. I believe that’s true. My 10-year-old daughter has always been kind of a mind reader. When she was a baby, I read to her every night, and she loved the Suess books, etc., but this is the first series that she has read with abandon. She, when I said that I’d like to review some YA books for this blog, urged me to start with this book which she believes to be just about the best thing ever written.
I have to preface this by saying it’s been a long time since I’ve read a young adult book … probably since the Nancy Drew days back in the early 1980s. As I read The Fire Within, I asked myself — what does she find so appealing, despite presumption, this book isn’t a dragon adventure/action book. D’Lacey gives us dragon lore, and we have limited magic from the dragons that are made, but not enough to sustain a compelling storyline. This is a story more about the interactions between David, Liz and Lucy who are all more thinly developed than one would expect of main characters.
What draws a 10-year-old into the story? I asked my daughter.
My little reader explained that she liked the story line about dragons and the story that David wrote for Lucy, but it was really the secondary storyline in which Lucy attempts to save a squirrel from the neighbors that she loved.
I’m a big believer in giving latitude to the first book in a series. The author is getting to know the characters and usually, in my opinion, the first book will be the weakest. From what I’ve read, the rest of this series is nothing like the first book, and if you do like dragons, you’d be wise to read this one quickly and move on — and this is a very quick read. The typeface is large, befitting a young adult book and the language is fairly straightforward and simplistic facilitating an easy flow through the novel.
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