So I chose a book in which a hydrophobic boy is sent to a water world where the skies are filled with monstrous, man-eating bird creatures. What can I say? I give myself great advice...
I just don't follow it particularly well.
|Cover Art by Laura Gordon|
Ben the Dragonborn, A Six Worlds Story, is a YA fantasy written by Dianne Astle.
And yes, I'm exaggerating the intensity of the book. It really is a lot tamer than Anywhere But Here. It does have man-eating bird creatures and a boy that's scared of water to the point of having a phobia, however.
So what's it about?
Ben is enrolled in a school which places a high interest in physical activities. Unfortunately, one of those required activities is swimming - something that Ben dreads beyond all else. His nights are plagued with dreams of being dropped into the water where he sinks, unable to bring himself to the surface. After failing his swimming test in the most embarrassing manner, he's sent to the principal's office, where it will be determined whether or not he'll be able to stay in his school.
Everything changes for him during that meeting, and he suddenly finds himself travelling to a different world... one that's almost entirely covered with water.
Pretty cool, huh?
The characters in Ben the Dragonborn were fully fleshed out and likeable.
While I'm most definitely not afraid of the water, having swam in pools, lakes, rivers, and two oceans, I completely understood Ben's terror. Rather than getting annoyed at his intense fear, however, I sympathized with him, and yearned that he would overcome it. I owned his fear, briefly claiming it as my own. Me!
That was awesome.
Not only did this story do a spectacular job of making the reader understand fears, but it also showed the dangers and heartbreak that can result if those fears aren't faced. It showed how easy it is for fear and ignorance to create hatred.
But it also showed that hatred brought about by ignorance can be overcome.
The world that Ben entered was populated by both humans and mer-people, and they were about to go to war with each other. Tensions were high, and each race of people saw the other as inferior and vile. This was largely due to the fact that there was little to no communication between the two groups.
Ben and his traveling companions were forced into a situation where people from both groups had to deal with those differences and learn to trust each other.
That is, unless they'd rather die horribly due to natural hazards and wildlife...
Not much of a choice there, right?
Well, I assume you can guess which choice was made. This is book one, after all! The characters all learned to think rather than make quick judgements. I enjoyed that immensely.
Ben the Dragonborn made me smile. It also made me frown as I worried about what would happen to the characters I became involved with. The story was strong, and though I felt it taught a great deal about acceptance of others for who they are, rather than who we think they are, it never once felt preachy. Rather, it felt like an obvious truth.
And there's no better way to get a message across.
This was definitely a book worth reading, and can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.