Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: Slayers by C. J. Hill (Janette Rallison)

Slayers by C. J. Hill
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 373
Received: Finished copy from publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?


You know what they say about assuming...

I have to admit, my expectations got the better of me. I KNEW Slayers would have to be different enough from Janette Rallison's other books to warrant the use of a pseudonym, but I kinda figured the dragons and genre shift would have been enough.

Basically, I was expecting a Janette Rallison romantic comedy told in the first person, but with dragons and more action. But no, there is a LOT more that's different. Don't expect Janette Rallison. Accept C. J. Hill and forget Janette Rallison, otherwise you might find yourself disappointed.

It's like there's a GIGANTIC WALL between us

I'm a character girl, and so third person narratives start off at a disadvantage, though it can work for me--just look at Harry Potter! Unfortunately, this one didn't cut it with me. 

I couldn't connect with the characters AT ALL. All I knew about them was what was on the very shallow surface. I really couldn't care less about any of them because I felt like I didn't know any of them, or even have any sense of them at all. We're talking zeros on the WWMCD Test, and after spending 373 pages together, that's pretty darn disappointing.

The antagonist was also too "stock villain" for my tastes, but there is a lot of potential for a more nuanced approach. I think and hope the sequel will explore this character more. The romance felt forced to me too, and while there are two options, I wasn't feeling either of them (mostly because I didn't KNOW either of them).

Let's embrace the duology!

Since I didn't connect with the characters, I ended up bored for the majority of the book. Nothing really happened. Tori comes to dragon camp, meets the other campers, learns she's descended from dragon slayers, is told she needs to risk her life trying to destroy a clutch of dragons when they hatch, dithers A LOT about whether she wants to commit to this path (which of course we know she will) and worries A LOT about her romantic prospects (which bored me).

There. That's the first 250 or so pages. Don't worry, I didn't spoil anything. That's also the jacket blurb. I am an impatient reader, and so for me it took TOO LONG for the action to finally start.

I'm thinking Slayers has fallen victim to the dreaded Series Stretching. I can't say for certain until I read book two, but I think book one and two probably should have been smushed into one volume. The first 250 or so pages of Slayers could have been cut and condensed down to fit into the first 2-4 chapters and then the events of book 2 could have been added after that. I think I would have enjoyed that a lot more. But, again, I am an impatient reader.

Other writing stuff

Most of the book is told through the third-person with a focus on Tori, but every once in a while there is a chapter with a third-person focus on another character. These chapters worked ok, especially with certain characters, but the fact that they were all inexplicably written in italics seriously threw me. I ended up mentally whispering and placing all kinds of extra emphasis on these sections as if they were an "oooo *wave hands* mystical dream sequence" when really they were just normal sections told from different characters' POVs. I was not a fan. 

So, forget the execution. How about the story?

The story rocks. Totally rocks. Think Percy Jackson meets Jurassic Park plus slaying and super powers. It doesn't get much better than that!

The dragon mythology was intriguing, especially since it took a more scientific approach than fantasy and magic (albeit, science-lite). I'm not sure all the i's were dotted and t's were crossed there, but enough of a framework was set up that I felt comfortable and excited about this new approach.

I also loved how the dragons were predators. Sure, I love the books where everyone can get a cuddly dragon BFF of their very own, but, well, dragons don't look very cuddly, do they? The dragons in Slayers are pure animal and they wouldn't hesitate to chow down on a toddler or BBQ one of their human handlers. They were scary and I can totally understand why Tori would want to cut and run.

(Except, as a MC, that's just lame. *I* can run. Tori needs to enthusiastically fight to the death. I don't care how bad her odds are).

The nature of Tori's individual power was engaging and almost played out like a mystery. She finally discovers what she can do at about the midpoint of the book, and from there to the end it was fun unraveling how she could use her power and what it meant.

The later part of the book is also when all the good stuff started to happen. I finally got some great action and a dragon even made an appearance! A can of worms was also opened and I'm curious to see how that is going to play out in the sequels.

Bottom line

While I liked and appreciated the dragon mythology, I'm pretty meh on everything else. What I really wanted was Janette Rallison (first-person narrative included- she does those so well!), and that's just not what I should have expected.

I'm not sure if I'm hooked enough by the dragon mythology to continue on, especially if there's a lot of slow-paced filler in the sequel. If it lands in my lap, then I'd probably read it. If I hear from reviews that the sequel is chock full of dragon-killing goodness then, well, I'm game.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Slayers that I haven't addressed?  Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 

You might like: 

Click on the cover to go to Goodreads.


  1. Interesting, I kind of don't mind the third person narrative - I'm used to it because of the sheer amount of Romance Novels I read, historicals in particular are almost always 3rd person - so I think I might like this book a bit more than you did!


    thanks for sharing your thoughts, I would have never guessed this was a pseudonym

  2. That's such a bummer that you couldn't connect with any of the characters - it makes it so much more difficult to enjoy the story.

    Thanks for your honest thoughts :)

  3. I only found out that this one was by Janette Rallison recently so I was really interested to see what you'd think of Slayers. The dragon mythology sounds nice but I like books that dive into the story right away. Also, emotional connection with characters is pretty important to me so it stinks that you couldn't connect with them. Maybe I'll just borrow this from the library.

  4. I'm thinking about trying this one. I understand what you saying about the connections with the characters but you liked the story! And i love dragons! Never heard of this book btw!

    You had problem with chapters in italics? I had a book, that when the characters were in the other realm the chapters were written in red. Really annoying.

    And i do have a question? What's this thing in the cover? I can not understand.

  5. Alex, I think the third person thing is definitely my personal hangup. A ton of people loved this book, so hopefully you will agree with them instead of me :)

    YA Book Queen, It IS a bummer :( I seem to be in the minority though.

    A Canadian Girl, Definitely check it out from the library first and don't expect it to be like Janette Rallison. I'm super curious to see what you think of it. I like books that get into the action right away, and this one really took its time.

    Yiota, I did like the story! And given how much you like dragons, I think you should definitely try to check it out. Ack, entire chapters in RED?! Awful. I just read Anna Dressed in Blood and the whole book was printed in red font. I did not like that at all. Haha, you are not the only one who can't figure out the cover! Apparently the prevailing theory is a dragon rocket ship (joking), but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a dragon egg and you can sort of see the dragon inside the egg.

  6. Too bad this wasn't as good as you hoped. Still sounds interesting. I haven't read many dragon books. I don't think I've read any actually.
    And I'm glad that I'm not the only person who prefers first person. I agree that it seems impersonal. It seems like so many people I talk think that first person is less literary I much prefer it.

  7. Alison, I've heard that too about first person not being literary. Like it's low brow reading. I don't see why though. Just look at classics like Lolita or Frankenstein! Hm, I think my favorite dragon book is Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. Or, at least it's one of my favorites and I can think of it now :P

  8. Hmm..yeah now you say it, must be an egg. But a really weird egg. I will definitely try it! Thanks for the recommendation :)

    And why your Anna Dressed In Blood is red? Mine is normal :s

  9. Yiota, Yeah, it is a strange egg for sure! Not really how I pictured them in the book, either. I hope you like it!

    Lucky you, re: Anna Dressed in Blood. Yup, my whole book was in RED. I kept trying to read it in shadow so it looked like dark brown/black ink. :P

  10. I just finished reading it and actually enjoyed it! I do see where your coming from on pace. I do think the first half of it definitely could have been condensed.

    I thought it was like Percy Jackson too! Thats one of the reasons that I was drawn to this. And Dragons?!?! How awesome is that?!

    While tori did get on my nerves sometimes and she did take to long to make a darn decision, I actually ended up liking her. I like that she wasn't tough from the beginning and had to learn to be brave even if it took her a while.

    I'll definitely continue the series because I would like to know where it goes. Especially after the last chapter! Sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as me but great review!

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! Aren't the dragons awesome?! I really liked how she imagined them. I'll be keeping an eye out for your review :)


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