Tuesday, October 04, 2022

New Dragon City

Mancusi, Mari. New Dragon City
October 4th 2022 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Noah lives with his father in the remains of New York City, in a theater right off of Times Square. Previously, they had lived in the country after a dragon apocalypse that no one saw coming. There is a small group of people who survived, but dragons managed to kill half the population. Dragons are still a threat, but usually only in the summer, and then the group lives underground. When Noah and his friend Maya are attacked by a dragon in April, things are grim. The group makes plans to head underground early, but Noah's father plans to stay behind. Noah's mother disappeared a while ago, and it turns out that she has joined a "dragon worshipping cult". His father hopes to find and deprogram her over the summer, and has made arrangements for another family to look out for Noah. He decides to stay behind, however, and help convince his mother to stay with him. To complicate matters, Noah has had a run in with a young dragon, Asha, who cured his burn wounds, and with whom he has connected. Unfortunately, Noah's father kills Asha's mother, and is gravely wounded in the process. Unable to locate his father, he heads off to Columbia University, where the "cult" supposedly lives, and is reunited with his mother. His father is also there, being cared for in a working hospital, a rarity in this dystopian time. Since Noah has bonded with Asha and was unable to kill a dragon because of this, he understands his mother's community and their desire to try to work with the dragons in some peaceful way rather than trying to kill them all. 
Strengths: This was quite different from this author's Dragon Ops books, which has just as much adventure but more of a video game feel. New Dragon City is definitely a dystopia, with limited food and technology, and the ever present threat of killer dragons. Starting from that premise makes it all the more appealing to find sympathetic dragons like Asha who are okay with being friends with humans even after her mother is killed. The enclave at Columbia is quite refreshing, and makes sense: the "uniform" is t-shirts from the college bookstore, and a lot of the people are professors with vegan tendencies! Noah is just glad to have fresh milk and cookies after living off sketchy canned food. The group is surviving, but also trying to see if there is a better way forward, and Noah is glad to help with that despite his father's objections. It's a little unusual to have this much hope in a dystopia, and I rather enjoyed that. Noah is definitely able to help, and work with his family to come to some kind of understanding as well. While the story is wrapped up neatly, I could also see the possibility of a sequel set in the same world. 
Weaknesses: As an adult, I find myself wanting world building info dumps more than my students. Since I would be in charge of taking care of people, I want to know how exactly they got food. Was there electricity still? Was there any government? There weren't a lot of details like this, because Noah is more concerned about DRAGONS. Which is as it should be. But I found myself being very curious about a lot of things that weren't specifically described. 
What I really think: This is a great choice for fans of Tui Sutherland's Wings of Fire series who also like to read dystopian books. Ford's Forgotten City (2018) duology or Martin's Ark of Extinction (2016) have a similar feel, and if Noah and Asha are back, I imagine that the next book might be a little like London's  excellent Battle Dragons (2021) adventures. 


  1. I love books about dragons so I will definitely be picking this one up. I know what you mean about worldbuilding - both as a reader who wants to know how a particular world/magic system works and also as a writer who tries to get these things right!

  2. I love books about dragons so I will definitely be picking this one up. I know what you mean about worldbuilding both as a reader who wants to know how things work and as a writer who tries to make them work. Thanks for the short list of other dragon books, too!