Talker 25 and Talker 25: Invisible monsters, are part of a science-fiction YA series by Joshua McCune. It was definitely a unique concept, and it delivered its promised action. I give it nine stars, and recommend it to fans of The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Summary book 1 (Goodreads): 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.
Summary book 2 (Goodreads): Finally free after spending three months locked in a secret government facility where she was forced to torture and assassinate dragons for the popular television series Kissing Dragons, all Melissa Callahan wants is a quiet recovery. Hiding in an Alaskan cave with fellow escapee Allie (known as Talker 21), Melissa does her best to stay out of the dragon politics. However, when a group of rebels called the Diocletians discovers their hideout and captures Allie, Melissa soon realizes she must finally choose who she’s fighting for—the humans or the dragons.
There were many things I loved about this book.
First of all, the concept of this world revolving around a sick TV show. So much of the action – and there is action – and the horrors have to do with this horrible TV show, and I think it’s so interesting that in this world where dragons and humans are at war, there is so much propaganda going around with kissing dragons, which is sponsored by the government. That’s the reason I recommended it to Hunger Games fans (which I’m sure we all are) – torturing for propaganda hooked me, and it reminded me of the Hunger Games’s brutality and government manipulation. I’d distinguish one main difference – in The Hunger Games the Games are for fear of the government, but in Kissing Dragons it’s in order to trust the government.
I loved the unique concept of dragons in futuristic America. They’re creatures that are usually associated with high fantasy worlds, so I was very surprised when I opened the first page and realized it was all about dragons. Talker 25 has both the strong fantasy hook as well as the science fiction/dystopean themes that I enjoy separately, and I loved reading them mixed in one.
I enjoyed the second book more than I did the first. On my Goodreads (@Mollye Oze) I gave the first book four stars, even though it’s more of a 4.5 star rating for me, and the second book I gave five stars. They’re both very fast paced – which is often a good thing, but I felt that this book moved a little too quickly from each situation. Each scene had strong, gripping, gruesome aspects, and it takes awhile to recover even after you’re done with the series. Which is one of the reasons I recommend it.
Overall, it’s great for anyone who enjoys fast paced, bloody action books. I defintily recommend it.