Talker 25 is the debut novel from author Joshua McCune. McCune dives into the dragon lore with a new tale that is set in an alternate reality where dragons came out of the unknown over a decade ago, and changed the way people lived by killing millions of people.
Talker 25 is told from the perspective of High School Senior Melissa Callahan who lost her own mother to the dragons 3 years ago and has had a major chip on her shoulder ever since.
Talker 25 is an unusual story filled with a plethora of different characters. Dragons of various colors who live on government controlled reservations, those who are intent on destroying the dragons for good, insurgents who have decided that dragons are innocent pawns in a much larger game, and those who are able to speak to and hear dragon (Talkers) while also riding them into battle, or luring them to their deaths.
As a character, Melissa is a bit hard to swallow at times. Her father is involved in the study and containing of dragons on a reservation. She nearly loses her brother during an attack on the reservation where she lives, and is labeled as a traitor. She goes from hating dragons with a passion because that is what is expected from her, to understanding that perhaps her mother wasn't all that wrong in saying that the dragons aren't here to hurt anyone, and deserve to be free of government interference and restrictions. Melissa comes to know a whole new side to dragons based not only on the color of their scales, but their ability to speak to humans and even falls for an adorable silver baby dragon.
There are some major violence and explicit language scenes in this story. There are particular scenes that are extremely barbaric and gory and I would say that perhaps parents may want to think about if this material is appropriate for those under, say, 16. Although I found a way to move quickly over said scenes, it still felt like it was a bit gratuitous at times. Perhaps the author was comparing what happens to the dragons, to what happens to animals in real life.
One of my favorite characters in Talker 25 is Allie aka Talker 21, while one of my least favorite is also considered the so called romantic interest in James. Allie may have seemed to have a screw loose here and there, but in the end, she and Melissa find a way to survive against the corrupt government that uses Talkers to lure Dragons to their deaths, and attacks innocent people. James, on the other hand, was more or less a distraction for Melissa to overcome her prejudices, and open her heart up to different possibilities.
I won't hesitate in saying that the ending was a bit abrupt for me, but I will consider reading the sequel to see if the characters grow a pair and fight back. There was a nice action scene, but it felt like I was in Melissa'a body and she was having an acid trip that just would not end and left me unsatisfied. I will say that I did read the ending chapters a few times while waiting for my mammogram before finally understanding what was actually happened.
Author - Joshua McCune
Title - Talker 25 (Talker 25 # 1)
Published by Greenwillow/Harper Collins
Released: April 22, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Format: Ebook 432 pages