The Last Dragonslayer - Jasper Fforde *5 Stars*

Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 10
* Pace - 9
* Plot development - 10
* Characters - 9
* Enjoyability - 10
* Insightfulness - 10
* Ease of Reading - 9
* Photos/Illustrations - N/A
Final Score: 67/70 = 96%

*WARNING: If you aren’t a fan of zany, fantastical worlds that mirror our own a bit too much with amazing characters and fateful encounters, then this isn’t the book for you. And your books probably aren't for me.

*The Gush*

I have loved [a:Jasper Fforde|4432|Jasper Fforde|]’s work since I first picked up {The Eyre Affair}. I will admit, however, that I was upset to hear when this book came out because like so many of his fans, I was hoping for another book in the Nursery Crimes Series. That was unfair of me, both to the author and to this book. Now that I have read it, I consider this book to be worthy of sitting side by side with all his other books, Young Adult or not. Certainly Fforde does not write this book as if the reader is less brilliant or lacking in anyway, but rather he tailors his writing to be accessible yet challenging and creates a plot and characters so compelling you can’t help but be caught up and swept away. I read this book in a day, mostly because I couldn’t put it down.

While all the characters are well written, both the protagonists and the villains, easily the best character is Jennifer Strange. She is the narrator as this is set in first person point of view and therefore we see the world through her eyes. This is important because she has a unique view of the world around her. Strange is a Foundling, children left on the doorstep of the convent of the Blessed Lady of the Lobster and are placed in indentured servitude on reaching their early teens. She has no real rights and few prospects after her years of servitude end in her eighteenth year. She is an outsider who has lived in the society all her life with all the knowledge the latter brings and all the understanding the former brings. A strong female heroine, she is mature but still a young girl who sometimes makes mistakes no matter the pressures put upon her. She stands firm though and always does the best she can, even when this is unpopular or even deadly. A very human character and one that is easy to like and relate to. And I must mention my favorite character, the Quarkbest. A fantastical beast described as, “Nine-tenths velociraptor and kitchen blender and one-tenth Labrador,” it is a constant companion throughout the text and always serves to lighten the mood with a well-placed ‘Quark’ when needed. I cannot express how much I love this character.

The plot and setting of the book are as imaginative, entertaining, and insightful as any of his adult books. The Ununited Kingdom (yes you saw that right) is similar enough to the country we know in our world, with just enough strange and fanciful difference to keep you on your toes. As this is exactly how his Thursday Next world is, I was not surprised but a reader new to him might be by his topsy-turvy world that is close but not quite familiar. Magic exists, but so too does TV, cars, and telephones. And magic is slowly draining from the world, so that wizards and magicians are slowly losing their punch and are reduced to doing little more than finding lost jewelry, rewiring houses, or delivering fast food on their carpets. There is also only one Dragon left in the world, hidden within its protected lands and every single precognition wizard has seen its death. Jennifer Strange is serving out her servitude working at Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an employment agency for wizards, and soon becomes entwined with this fateful encounter leading her and her friends to discover the truth about herself, magic, and the disgusting world of politics and commercialism. The pace draws you on after a bit of a rough start at first. It took me a bit over 15 pages to get really into this book, but once I was, I couldn’t put it down.

*The Rant*

As I mentioned above, I did have a bit of problem getting into the story right at the first. It was interesting but it hadn’t hooked me as quickly as his other books had. The issue quickly ended and I was absolutely enthralled soon enough but I feel I should warn you to give this a bit longer of chance the some might.

My only other issue would have been that I want to see more of Strange and her world, but as I’ve found out the next book is out in October, I’m attempting to wait…impatiently. Bring on [b:The Song of the Quarkbeast|11297320|The Song of the Quarkbeast (The Last Dragonslayer, #2)|Jasper Fforde||16224887]!

Whether you are a long time reader of Fforde, or are wondering if everyone keeps hitting the f key twice by weird coincidence, this is a wonderful book that is well worth the time you invest in it. Not terribly long, it still manages to delight, sadden, and provoke some interesting thoughts all at once. Jennifer Strange is a great heroine and the plot is extremely exciting. Stop reading this and go find a copy.