Word Spelunking

Slayers - C.J. Hill, Janette Rallison I am a huge dragon enthusiast. I love dragon lore, myth, and art. I even have a dragon tattoo. So I was both excited and wary when I read the synopsis for Slayers. Excited because it was about dragons but wary because it was about ferocious dragons that needed to be slayed. I tend to prefer my dragons to be like Saphira from Eragon or Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon-good and loyal. But, despite my personal dragon preference, I chose to read Slayers anyway, and I’m very glad I did. I found it to be a fun, original and entertaining book that really surpassed my expectations.In Slayers dragons are very real, very ferocious beasts who eat humans. However, slayer-knights with special powers killed most of them off in the middle ages. Centuries later, there are two dragon eggs being guarded by power hungry bad guys, and it is up to the descendants of the slayer-knights, a group of super powered teenagers, to destroy them once again. Dr. B runs a special summer camp where he has trained these Slayers and this is where Tori Hampton, the newest camper who is drawn to this camp by her deep fascination and fear of dragons, learns that she too is a Slayer. Tori, along with her fellow Slayers, must learn to control their powers and work together in order to defeat their enemies- Overdrake and his dragons- while dealing with romance, betrayal, and flaming fireballs.I think the premise of this book is quite fresh and original. Hill has taken dragon lore and myth and created something new and fantastical. I was expecting more of a lighthearted MG story because the book is marketed to the 12 and up crowd, but I was surprised and delighted to find that it didn’t lack any edginess or smart, sharp wit. The main setting, a summer camp used to train special kids, reminds me of a more mature Camp Half-Blood from the Percy Jackson series…which is a very positive comparison in my eyes. I like how the main characters are isolated from the outside world while at camp, which keeps the fantasy elements from being too restricted. And the fantasy elements themselves are pretty cool. Each Slayer has heightened abilities- super strength, sight, and reflexes- plus each Slayer has their own special power. Some Slayers can heal wounds made from dragons, some can put up shields, some can extinguish fire, and some can even fly. These powers make for really fun, vivid scenes and images. There’s a big cast of characters, most of whom I really like. Dr. B makes a great mentor/teacher type of character, the mean girls are fun to hate, the bad guy is devilishly charismatic, and the hot, romantic male interests are swoon-worthy. But I did have issues with the main character Tori Hampton. Tori is a spoiled, rich Senator’s daughter who is a bit shallow; vain; and catty. She’s also quite funny, sarcastic, and surprising. I can appreciate how much her character grows in such a short amount of time, but I found it hard to really connect with her. It really took me until the end of the book to develop a genuine affection for her. But the other characters, who are so likable and Charming, made up for any lack of connection I had with Tori. You can’t have a YA book without romance, and Slayers has a delicious love triangle between Tori, Jesse, and Dirk. Jesse and Dirk are both gorgeous, mysterious, athletic leaders amongst the Slayers. And Tori develops a real connection and attraction to both guys. The romance and chemistry between Tori and both boys feels very real and organic, and not forced or overly clichéd. I’m definitely anxious to see who Tori ultimately ends up with in future books in the series…and FYI, I’m totally Team Jesse right now.In some ways the storyline is a bit predictable, but overall the story kept me guessing and anxiously turning pages to see what happened. With fast paced action, charming characters, enticing romance, and plenty of twists and turns, Slayers is a real page turner. I’m hooked and will definitely read future books in the series.

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