Debut author Joshua McCune's gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre's Outpost. The Horn Book called it "absolutely gripping and absolutely horrifying."
It's a high-school prank gone horribly wrong—sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon—and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore. "The story packs significant punch."—Publishers Weekly
McCune's debut, first in a planned trilogy, takes place in a near-future America turned into a police state in response to the sudden appearance of intelligent, fire-breathing dragons. Although some of the creatures live peacefully on reservations, others are actively hostile, and the American military would just as soon exterminate all of them. After Melissa Callahan is implicated in a high school prank gone wrong sneaking onto a reservation to kiss one of the less dangerous dragons like the protagonist of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, she is quickly trapped in a military bureaucracy gone toxic when it's discovered that she has the rare ability to talk to dragons. She and other children with this talent are imprisoned in Antarctica, without trial or recourse, and tortured until they agree to use their ability to lure dragons to their deaths. McCune's tale can be gritty and painful many people and dragons, some of whom readers will grow to care about, die in bloody detail; his military villains, though, are one-dimensional and cartoonish. Still, the story packs a significant punch. Ages 14 up.