Posts Tagged Robin McKinley
Beauty is a single champagne truffle of a book: Robin McKinley’s debut novel from 1978.
This is not a long or complex book. It’s not dark fantasy. It’s a bon-bon that takes the Beauty and the Beast tale and packages it with a charming family in distress, and a self-conscious, bookish young woman who’d rather read Cicero than wear a ball gown.
As a character and first-person narrator, Beauty is self-deprecating, funny, and plausible. The growing affection between her and the Beast is distilled from the fairy tale. No, the Beast’s character is not grittily fleshed out to disturbing brutality. He’s more of a shaggy George Knightley to Beauty’s Emma. The focus on marriages, suitable or otherwise, did make me think of Jane Austen’s books.
Dragonhaven: this young adult novel by Robin McKinley is most memorable for its perfect conversational narrative voice of a young man who goes through a literally mind-bending experience. Plot summary from the book jacket:
Jake lives with his scientist father at the Makepeace Institute of Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is home to about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which is extinct in the wild.
There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the dragons rarely show themselves. Jake’s never seen one except deep in the park, and at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon – and she is dying. More than that, she has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive….
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, when you open the book, this is not the story you find, not for dozens or scores upon scores of pages. Warning – the pace is ‘leisurely’. I joked before about there being no Ghostpig in the first few pages of this book: well, not even in the first half of the book.
It’s a narrative approach that stretched my patience almost to snapping. The timeframe starts when Jake has already survived the life-altering experience, and now is struggling to write down its story. Read the rest of this entry »