Review: Talker 25 by Joshua McCune

Posted June 4th, 2014 in book review / 20 comments


Talker 25 Series #1

by Joshua McCune

Publisher: Greenwillow / HarperCollins (April 2014)
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Young Adult, Dragons
Format: Hardcover ARC (432 pages)
Source: Free copy from publishers for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★½☆☆ (2.5 stars)

Debut author Joshua McCune’s gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy lore, set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre’s Outpost.

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 chilling 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.

At A Glance
I think this might be the most conflicted I have ever been over a book. So bad, yet so good.

The Good
The concept was amazeballs. In short: Some dragons are bad, some good, but most people think they are all killers. So the world is ruled by a government that kills and experiments on them. They also use and abuse teenagers who can talk to dragons to capture and kill even more of these beautiful creatures. Blood and pain ensues.

I love dragon books and we just don’t get enough of them in the YA genre. The dragons were my fav characters. They had so much passion, so much bravery, and so much anger. I really got a good visual of them, as well as an understanding of their personalities.

The action was damn good. The dragon fights up on the air were bananas. The extent of cruelty the government was capable of really kept me on my toes because they had no limits. People without limits can be a frightening thing.

Allie was Batty BcBatterson. Coco for Cocoa Puffs. Crazy, party of one. And I loved her the more for it. She was just another talker amongst the dragon talkers. But she had been reconditioned, and when you are reconditioned, you are never quite right in the head again. Allie does crazy good. She plays the game, the ‘I hate dragons, kill them all’ game, but deep down, she knows who the real monsters are.

By the end, I was dying to read book #2 already. Just…wow! Even with a rating of 2.5, I know for sure I will continue this series. Now that is saying something.

The Bad
There were some parts where pivotal things happen. But they go by so fast, are so glossed over, and are so straight up confusing that I found myself scratching my head on what just happened. I don’t want to feel that way while reading a book.

Most of the characters, but especially Melissa and James, were pretty unbearable. Melissa is an insensitive, selfish, uninteresting bitch. And James is her boring, annoying, tantrum throwing love interest that served no purpose. I almost stopped reading because of how little chemistry and realness these characters had. Not a genuine emotion between the two.

You know who will love this book? People who love torturing dragons. Oh, you don’t like when dragons are bashed, broken, fried, and flayed in the name of good fun? For 75% of the book? Oh, well then, you might not like this book. Because it’s pretty much a manual guide on how to torture and kill dragons…and people.

Very little world-building and the writing was stiff. The villains, which were the majority of the population, were evil for the sake of being evil. I find it hard to believe the government and the general population could be that monstrous.

The Snuggly
The romance is pretty meh. It never really gets anywhere. James and Melissa connect a little in the beginning, all those long talks during war, death, and dragon killing. But when they meet again in the second half of the book, things take a one-eighty, and honestly, I just didn’t care. As a couple and as characters, they meant very little to me.

Some sexual situations but nothing too bad for a YA. I think it would be all the detailed dragon and human torture that would not be suitable for a young audience.

Final Thoughts
Technically, this was not a well done book, but for some reason, by the end, I was a little obsessed with it. Definitely a love/hate relationship. I want to read the next book but I don’t know if I would read this book if I knew what was coming. It’s up to you guys if you want to try this one out.

Can’t quote from the ARC, sorry.

book review

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20 Responses to “Review: Talker 25 by Joshua McCune”

  1. Jessica Haluska

    Yeah . . . I’ve not heard good things about this book, which makes me sad b/c DRAGONS. But no, I don’t like dragons for the express purpose of killing, maiming, and torturing them. And Allie sounds awesome. If this book had even a little bit more going for it, I’d probably read it just for her. Great review though. Sorry it was so tortuously MEH.

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  2. Livia @ Butterfly-o-Meter Books

    Bummer, you had me at “dragons”… but them being tortured isn’t something I’d manage reading/ I mean, humans being tortured works :)) Not dragons, animals or such though. Misanthropic, I know, lol.
    But I hope the second book will be a better read though 🙂

  3. Crystal Collier

    Yikes. That’s awesome–how something can be terrible and addicting at the same time. I read a book like that a while back, and ended up buying and reading the whole series. *shrugs* I enjoyed it too.

  4. kimbacaffeinate

    I like the dragon bits and nasty government. I am bummed that parts happened to quickly, but I can certainly see why you were conflicted.

  5. Christy @ Love of Books

    I heard that from someone else too – the dragon torturing was just too much. I’ve had reads like this, and it’s a bit frustrating that I do want to continue. lol. Hopefully the next one is better.

  6. Melliane

    oh a book about dragons? What a wonderful idea, I love that! I didn’t know the book but I’m curious to discover it I confess only for the dragons lol. BUt I’m sorry you had some problems with it too.

  7. Kaitlin Snider

    I really want to read the next book too, despite the fact that you actually liked this one better than me! I liked and disliked pretty much the same things as you did. My biggest problem, though, was my complete lack of connection to the main character’s emotions. I couldn’t feel them!

    I have an interview with Joshua McCune going up this Saturday. All the questions I asked were about this book, and I think you’d like reading his responses. 🙂

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I actually forgot to talk more about the lack of her emotions. That really bothered me too. I really want to check out that interview. thanks for letting me know.

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