Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kathy Reviews - Dragon's Pupils: The Sword Guest (Book One) and Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks (Book Two) by Martin Chu Shui

ISBN #: 978-1921578472
Page Count: 300
Copyright: July 27, 2009
Publisher: BookPal
Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

The story centers on Liz, born of half Australian and of half Chinese descent. Growing up in Australia, she isn't very interested in her father's ancient Chinese stories. She is concerned with problems that are far more contemporary such as environmental issues, and particularly her friend's handsome brother who is an environmental activist.

But her disinterest in Chinese culture changes when her two world collide, after a catastrophic accident sets thousands of ancient monsters loose near her home. Suddenly Liz must learn many new skills and call on all of her Chinese heritage if she is to prevent the monsters from destroying Earth.

Helped by her twin brother and best friend, Liz sets out to discover why the monsters exist and how to stop them. When she is injured in a battle, she must travel to China to seek a cure that is spiritual as much as it is physical. But can she find the old man who can help her before the monsters catch her? How will she manage in a country that is so strange and yet so familiar? And can she learn enough about a world she has ignored to stop the monsters in time?

File Size: 364 KB
Format: Kindle Edition
Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Powerful and invincible they ride across vast desert landscapes, hunting and slaying vampires under the cover of night. Jian Ke, the sword guests are more famous than ever! Admired by millions of TV fans around the nation as they pursue a life of action and adventure: a splendid tapestry depicting Liz, Henry and Sue at the top of their game. With her paintbrush in hand Liz is prepared to take on a hoard of vampires, an army of aliens and even her first kiss from the man of her dreams, Sue's handsome older brother.

Life couldn't be better until everything falls to pieces.

Liz must now face her biggest fears as the world she once knew slips through her fingers. No-one will be left untouched by the chaos which ensues. Armed only with her knowledge of Tai Chi, Liz must fight for what she has lost and begin the climb of her life. An unforgettable journey will take her to the Peaks.

Kathy's Review:

I read the first two books in the Dragon's Pupils series so this review is kind of a two-fer. (Dragon's Pupils meaning the white parts of the eyes; not students. Just thought I'd clear that up. Apparently the pupils are the last part you paint with the magic pen before the dragon can come alive.)

These books are like literary versions of the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. A group of teenagers discover they have pretty amazing powers and are confronted with larger-than-life supervillains around every turn. Each possesses a magical item that aids them in defeating the baddies. Fourteen year old Liz, the main protagonist, owns a magical pen which can paint things that come to life. The pen also transfers into a whip. Her twin brother, Henry, can shoot fireballs from his sword. Their friend, Sue, has a magical ring that can fly and act as a shield. Other gadgets mask their faces and allow them to transform into other people.

Set in Australia but flavored with Chinese influence and practices, The Dragon's Pupils series is meant for teen/young adult reading. Book One introduces us to the main characters and how they come to acquire their powers. Several run-ins with the USB (which stands for "Ultra Supreme Beings," not the cable that you use to connect to your computer), an evil force led by vampires and "backpack killers," force them into battle to save the citizens of Australia, which brings them to a final confrontation with the Vampire King. Along the way they make allies with the Monster King and his followers, including some bad-ass crocodiles that come to the group's aid. The book culminates with Liz learning a secret about her father that explains why he is always spouting ancient Chinese philosophy.

In Book Two, the group, famously known as the Jian Ke, has gained some infamy with their defeats of the vampires. No one knows their identity, so they must continue the facade of living normal lives as high school students. This is difficult because the threat of USB is still very real. Rose, a new girl to their school, reveals herself to be the leader of a group that casts a bad light on the Jian Ke and claims to be the true heroes. Animals begin to talk and are accused by Rose of being evil and they are rounded up to be killed. When pets begin to talk and are taken from people's homes, Liz and her friends need to do something. But strangely, they seem to have lost their power ...

The story has some interesting plot twists, but overall I think the writing is just average and could use some improvement. English is not the author's first language, so in that respect, I think it's amazing he can write so well in a language not his own. On the other hand, it shows. The second book, especially, has quite a few grammatical errors. Too many to count, actually. Also, although these are fifteen year olds and they do use bad language, I noticed it was a lot more frequent in the second book, as well. The term "bullshit" is used a lot, as well as "bitch." So if your young adult is too young for those words, wait until they are older.

Book Two ends in a cliffhanger as well, and once again, some wisdom from Liz's father helps save the day. I'm not sure I would read any of the next book in the series, as the writing is pretty clunky.

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