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A Reader of Fictions: Romans 10:9 - The Mountain Goats

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, November 8, 2010

Romans 10:9 - The Mountain Goats

The Painted Boy

Charles de Lint
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 433
ARC Acquired From: Penguin booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
Jay Li thought he was a normal boy until, at the age of eleven, a tattoo of a golden dragon spread itself across his back in one painful day. This means that he is a yellow dragon, selected to protect like many throughout his line, which runs back to the time of the emperor in China. His grandmother Paupau is a dragon too; she teaches him with riddles and breathing exercises but will tell him nothing concrete. This is understandably frustrating. It is decided that he will leave, as part of his training and go prove himself as a dragon somewhere. He chooses a new place by pointing at a map and then moves to his new home, Santo del Vado Viejo. Quickly, he makes new friends and new enemies in this desert town. His life has more meaning now than ever before and he loves living there, except that he keeps discovering new abilities and responsibilities. How can he live a real life if he actually is a dragon?

Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!

The only thing that I disliked about this book was some unevenness in the point of view, which may have been sorted out in the finalized copy of the book. Most of the story is told in third person and follows various characters. Occasionally though, a section will be given the heading "Jay" and will be told from Jay's perspective. While this is clear, it does feel a bit like cheating. Either do the whole book from Jay's perspective or do it all in third person. This might not have bothered me had it felt like there was any reason for these four or so sections to be from his point of view; I really do not think that these windows to his thoughts added anything that could not have been done with the third person narration.

Jay has a major task to accomplish and a bad guy to take down, which is typical for a fantasy novel, but that is not the real focus of the novel. The Painted Boy is first and foremost a Bildungsroman, a coming of age story for Jay. The focus is placed on his inner development and not on the external struggle. Do not think that this means the book lacks plot or excitement because of this.

Highly recommended!

"Try to think of ways to fix myself but everything ends in a cul-de-sac
The beast broke from the barn while we were sleeping, face it, face it, he's not coming back

Don't see what the point is in even trying to fight

Look for the bigger picture when I close my eyes real tight."

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