Tuesday, August 09, 2022

City of Speed- Battle Dragons #2

London, Alex. City of Speed- Battle Dragons #2
August 2nd 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After his somewhat Phyrric victory in City of Dragons, Abel is looking forward to a new school year, where hopefully his battle dragon fame will make him more popular. Sadly, on the ride to school, he is approached by classmate, Lu, who gives him a snapdragon wedgie and challenges him to a dragon race, on behalf of Jazinda Balk and the Red Talon kin. Not exactly how he wanted the year to start, especially since his sister got herself arrested after an incident with a dragon crashing into a crowd of spectators while she was busy hacking into people's phones and making bets on behalf of the Sky Knights, insuring that a large pot of money was distributed to the crowd, causes dissention among the kin. Silas, who is in trainging to be part of the Dragon's Eye secret police, wants to know more information about the betting on the dragon races, and also about their sister, and offers Abel a job-- arrange for a dragon race, buy a dragon, and see what happens. Along with Roa and Topher, Abel ventures into the seedy and dangerous Burning Market and buys a dragon, Brazza, from a vendor named Otto who owes Silas a favor. It's a chore to smuggle the dragon out, but the boys manage, and hide her in an abandoned building, ordering take out to feed her! When they come back, Brazza is gone, but Arvin Balk, son of the Red Talon leader, is there. He wants to help, but says that it is vital that Abel lose the race. Brazza has to be trained, which is a tricky proposition, but Abel is surprised at how fast she can travel. The race against Lu goes well, but Abel loses by one second on a technicality. Lu's dragon is immediately stolen, and it's up to the group to find out what's going on. It's nothing good, and Silas, Lina, and Abel must work together with Arvin to thwart the evil plot against the dragons and try to save each other. 
Strengths: Like the previous book, this has scene after scene of suspense and intrigue, as well as awesome dragon action. The thing that stood out to me, however, is how concerned Abel was with who he wanted to be, and how he could keep his family together even though they were following different paths. The fact that he is able to come home to his parents and ask them for help when he gets in a sticky situation is awesome, and I wish we would see this dynamic at play in more middle grade literature. The other thing that was a bit surprising was how FUNNY this was! Sure, the We Are Not Eaten By Yaks series was humorous, but in (to quote myself) a "goofiness-I-don't-understand" way. The throwaway phrases like "Peanut Butter and Pickle Wyvern Wafers", "If hopes were halos, we'd all be angels" and "{heard it from} my trainer's cousin's best friend's manicurist's ex-boyfriend's landlord" made me wish that the next project on Mr. London'd plate would be a realistic fiction novel set in a middle school. 
Weaknesses: At one point, Arrvin is revealed to be singing at a big concert in drag, but nothing is ever mentioned further about this. I'm still uncertain about how Drakopolis came to be, but no longer really cared. I personally had some trouble keeping all of the kin straight, and still couldn't read "Wind Breaker" kin without smirking, but younger readers will not have this trouble. I also can't keep the Warriors clans straight.
What I really think: I thoroughly enjoyed everything and there's definitely more adventure in the offing, but I don't want to spoil any of the details. Definitely purchasing, and can't wait to be back at school to recommend this series to students. 

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