For the October edition, we hosted a google hangout session discussing Prophecy
by Ellen Oh. Prophecy begins the trilogy for The Dragon King Chronicles
. Set in a fantasy/historical Korean landscape, we follow the lone female teenage demon slayer, Kira. She not only has to slay demons in secret by royal decree but also to be the royal bodyguard for her beloved cousin and future crown Prince. Then she has to struggle with the burden of the stigma of being a female warrior wit a strange eye color. Rumblings of a Demon Lord taking over the Seven Kingdoms begins to threaten everyone and now they must race to find the Dragon Musado from the Prophecy to save them all.
It sounded fantastic and has all the shiny things to get readers excited. A diverse landscape, magic, a female hero. Yet this novel fell far short of our expectations. Most of the blame went to a very simple writing style and bland main characters. The side characters and mythological references were way more interesting but fleeting.
The book is marketed as a young adult (YA) novel but all of us agreed that this was way more suited for a middle-grade child. At the same time, none of us would recommend it for a young child. The writing was pretty simple but was full of very adult vocabulary. One guest pointed that the word “whore” does leap off of the pages from an otherwise bland story. The story was absolutely full of convenient plot points with no real imminent danger to the characters. Every horrible thing happens off page or very quickly.
There was very little inner dialogue so it was hard to grasp what kind of a person Kira was. We are given the basics but not enough depth. A teenager is just teeming with emotion and self righteous ideas. The enormous task of being a demon slayer and protector of a Royal heir is just bursting with potential for character development. Sadly, there was none. Kira went along with the flow. There was no growth or lessons learned. There was at least one character trait and that was Kira’s consistency to make bad decisions regarding the safety of her cousin. No wonder this Demon Lord was taking over the Kingdoms; security was a joke.
All of us agreed that we wished for more stories of the mythological references. Their insertion into the story seemed too convenient or jarring without much of a cultural subtext. A shame, since they were one of the most interesting aspects of the story. Especially the women in the mountains. Who seriously waits that long?!!?
As proud Hallyu fan (a person who loves watching Korean dramas or listening to Korean pop music), this was a novel that read like an adaptation of a kdrama. There are many shows similar to this kind of main character or story. The trouble is, this did not have the lush and vibrant visual effects of a show that would distract the viewer from any plot holes or bad story plots.A great example of korean dramas with female fighters in a historical setting would be The Huntresses , a comedy/action movie very similar to Charlie’s Angels. Or another great mythological kdrama with action and time travel features Korean heart throb, Lee Min Ho, in the series Faith.
The overall reactions ranged from mild enjoyment to scorn but united in agreement that this could have been something more. Readers are always seeking new worlds and new perspectives and this was a lost oppurtunity. Even though this was a bit of a disappointment, we appreciated what it brought to the Young Adult landscape in diversity. We just wanted so much more.
A good recommendation for young adults, especially young women, involving a great female character who is a warrior, would be Alana of Trebound stories (start with The Song of the Lioness) by Tamora Pierce. That is a warrior who understands the implications of war.
Start reading the next book in the Fangirl Nation Book Club: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss. The live google hangout will on Novemeber 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm PST. Click here to be sent to to the Google+ page so you can be reminded to watch it when it happens.
Feel free to tweet your questions/thoughts to #fgnbookclub.