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Dragons In Pieces (Maze Beset) (Volume 1) Paperback – June 30, 2013
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About the Author
Lee French lives in Worcester, MA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don't get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.
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Bobby didn’t really have much going for him, but when the feds picked him up for a crime he didn’t commit, he used his upbringing to calm himself. Southern boys are polite, that is, until he was accused of being a terrorist, locked away, and experimented on like a lab rat. After discovering an unusual ability and meeting others with similar eery eyes, Bobby joins together with them to escape. But they find a list with more names then their own, and they can’t leave anyone to go through the hell they went through as lab rats, even if only for several days, and they make it their mission to save all the almond shaped eyed superheroes.
Dragons in Pieces starts with a focus on Bobby. He seems normal. He acts normal. He talks normal. He does normal youth-ish type things. There is a key difference, though, as Bobby is a Southern boy and he was never well off. He is quick to anger when something sparks the Southern Gentleman in him. His story starts when he takes it upon himself to tell off his mother’s boss and punches him right in the face. He is cooling off when he’s picked up as a terrorist. They must be wrong, Bobby didn’t do anything, just punched one guy.
Waking up hours or days later, Bobby doesn’t know, he is confronted by something quite unusual. Bobby and three others were being experimented on like lab rats and it won’t take long for Bobby and them to figure out why. They have super powers.
I loved Bobby. He had so much character, even if all that he said and did weren’t the best choices or the most smart decisions. Bobby has Southern charm and it’s apparent he has a Southern upbringing and grew up quite different than I did and I found him fascinating for these differences. It’s downright adorable that Bobby says “Heckbiscuits” as a curse word and tries to do what his momma done told him about being polite and how to handle himself in social situations. Bobby is rough around the edges but an extremely likable main character.
The story was also fascinating and the choices Lee French made for the super powers was interesting. French gives is interesting characters, a compelling story, and a hint at something more going on than Bobby and his friends know.
The Good: Dragons in Pieces has a very diverse cast of characters, and wow are there ever lots of them. While the primary focus is on Bobby, the other super-powered characters come from a variety of backgrounds and are able to share unique perspectives on their experiences. Each character reacts to and copes with the development of their powers in their own way.
The writing was generally tight with little to no purple prose. Enough is written about scenes and characters to set the stage, and then it's up to the personalities to really shine through and bring the emotional conflicts to light.
The Bad: This book really could have used another editing pass. While none of the typos made anything unclear, they were hard to miss while reading.
A few scenes felt cluttered or rushed, or just weird. I really didn't like the scene where the homeless people in an alley acted zombie-like and crowded a character until she killed them. It felt like a forced way to have her accidentally kill people, using homeless people as cannon fodder for her development.
In another case of weird homeless people stuff, there was a really glaring deus ex machina moment where two characters, completely by chance, run across an important plot exposition character the night before he dies homeless and sick in the streets. It was totally contrived.
Overall: This was a fun read and I am looking forward to reading more by Lee French. If you like emotional super hero drama, I would suggest picking this up -- just brace yourself for really weird homeless people.
There is a logic to his superpower. In this state he can think, he can free the others who've been kidnapped and tortured, and he can escape the facility. He can't lift anymore in that state than he can as a human being. There are limits to his ability, which makes this improbable superhero so enjoyable.
Bobby's fellow inmates, Jayce, Alice, and Ai, all seem to demonstrate superpowers too. The one other thing they have in common is their eyes are an odd shade of blue, leading them to some conclusions about their personal histories and why they are where they were targeted to be kidnapped by the government.
Lee French writes well and clearly. Bobby's adventures, while completely improbable, seem perfectly reasonable when you're reading them. The logic behind the superpowers all four demonstrate is what keeps this entertaining book on track.
I highly recommend Dragons in Pieces as a great urban fantasy adventure, with wonderful, well-written characters. It's a complete departure from the usual urban fantasy fare
Lee French weaves a good tale. She develops characters that I cared about, although some of them are scary. Her pacing is very good and she kept my attention throughout the book. I gladly recommend the book. I would give it a PG-13 rating if it were a movie because of violence.