Reviews for Dragon Run

Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
Assigned the rank of zero during the national testing day for 12-year-olds, Al is targeted to be "culled," or killed. With the help of a mysterious cult, he escapes and embarks on a series of nonstop perils, encountering strange creatures and evading cutthroat killers, as he and the reader muddle through political intrigue in a world ruled by malevolent dragons. This fast-paced, episodic first novel features diabolical dragon rulers, sympathetically drawn semimonsters, and truly creepy scenes, but the narrative is marred by stretches of summarized background. Thin on characterization but thick with hearty, old-fashioned adventure, this will appeal to those who prefer narrow escapes and sword duels to complex world-building fantasies. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
The society of Evans has a plan to loosen the ruling dragons' stranglehold on humanity, and Al, who is unsusceptible to magic, could play a role in that plan--if he can only figure out what he's supposed to do. Colorful characters who help the young protagonist along and a plot that keeps getting bigger and bigger propel this tale to a whiz-bang conclusion.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #2
On Testing Day, when twelve-year-olds are summoned to the castle to earn the dragon-mandated rank that will determine the course of their future lives, Al Pilgrommor is given a shameful score: zero, even lower than those who score a one and are forbidden to own property or father children. On the run from the Cullers who want to kill him, Al finds help: from the mysterious society of Evans that help him escape; from his friends Wisp and Trillia, who abandon their own apprenticeships to go into hiding with him; and from the sword his parents left him -- which he can use to defend himself if he can teach himself to do more than parry. Author Matthews lays down his cards at a deliberately teasing pace as readers slowly begin to see the bigger picture: dragons are harvesting magical energy from the ranked humans, giving the dragons nearly unlimited power and preventing most humans from putting it to their own use. The society of Evans has a plan to loosen the dragons' stranglehold on humanity, and Al, who is unsusceptible to magic, could play a role in that plan -- if he can only figure out what he's supposed to do. Stories that shed light; colorful characters who help the young protagonists along; and a plot that keeps getting bigger and bigger propel this sleeper tale to a whiz-bang conclusion. anita l. burkam

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
In a world ruled by dragons whose minions rank and brand people like cattle, one boy has the ability to change everything. Al, Wisp and Trillia join the crowd of 12-year-olds waiting outside the castle on Testing Day. With relatively high-ranking parents--four--Al worries more about his friend, Wisp, whose parents sport the marks of rank two. Wisp, cavalier as always, gives Al a beaten-up hat to wear with an enigmatic message that it will give him the "luck of the Evans." However, luck seems far from Al when a zero is carved on the back of his neck, indicating his worth and calling for not only his death, but the death of his whole family. Al's only option is to run. He soon discovers that rank zeros are not worthless but dangerous, capable of overthrowing the dragons and freeing the five races from their slavery. Sword fights, a mysterious society and an impossible quest keep this inventive fantasy moving at a fast clip. Harry Potter fans hungry for a new hero will be drawn to Al, but stock characters and a predictable resolution combine to steal the magic. A distinctive fantasy with obvious flaws, this still goes down pretty easy. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 June

Gr 4-7--It's Testing Day for Al Pilgrommor and the other 12-year-olds, the day that humans receive their rank marks from agents of the dragons who rule their world. Their rank-a number from one to seven carved onto the backs of their necks-will determine their entire future and social standing. With his parents both fours, Al is not unduly worried, so when he is marked a zero, he is shocked. A guard helps him escape, warning him not to go home or the Cullers will kill him and his entire family to destroy his bloodline. As Al moves from place to place, trying to survive and barely keeping one step ahead of his murderous pursuers, he learns more about his world, the different races that inhabit it, and the Potentia that gives the dragons their power. Being a zero might be a death sentence, but not for the reasons he's been told, and Al may be the key to changing the world. With an interesting premise, the story is fast paced enough to hold readers' interest. Al is an appealing hero, though his supporting cast is full of flat and underdeveloped characters. Nevertheless, fantasy fans will find much to enjoy in this action-filled adventure.--Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

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