Official Review: A Book Without Dragons by Olivia Berrier

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Ashley Simon
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Official Review: A Book Without Dragons by Olivia Berrier

Post by Ashley Simon » 16 Oct 2017, 18:32

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "A Book Without Dragons" by Olivia Berrier.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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In A Book Without Dragons by Olivia Berrier, it’s the year 2054. Thanks to a satellite system known as Unitime, cars run on Refined Solar Energy instead of petroleum, and all of technology works in synchronized harmony. Then one day, people all over the world wake up to find that their clocks are slightly off. As the discrepancies grow larger and larger, technology everywhere stops working. Banks shut down. Hospitals overflow. And pretty soon, full-blown panic starts to ripple across the globe.

In the midst of this crisis, readers meet four people (and one dog!) living in a small town known as Chagrin Heights. There’s Chief Snowiks. He's the head of the police department and on the cusp of retirement, and he’s not sure that he has what it takes to respond to this crisis. There’s Elizabeth—or Zabby, as she’s called—who daylights as a waitress and spends her evenings avoiding her alcoholic father’s outbursts. She recently failed out of nursing school, and it’s left her battling feelings of inadequacy. There’s Bethany Gardner, who stews over a lackluster marriage and disappointing career. There’s Cider, the lovable dog who somehow finds his way into every home in Chagrin Heights.

And finally, there’s Willow Ayers. Willow likes to think of himself as an ordinary guy who loves fantasy novels. But he’s also the guy who invented Unitime. And when the system breaks down, people everywhere turn their eyes to him. He’s the only one who can fix Unitime and restore order to their world. But Willow’s in hiding, and he doesn’t seem to be making a whole lot of progress. In fact, some people would say he doesn’t really want Unitime to be fixed at all. Or does he?

The plot of A Book Without Dragons kept me on the edge of my seat, and the story addresses many timely questions. What would our world look like without technology? If you take away our gadgets, who do we become? Do we still have the ability to work together as humans? Each character was likable and well-developed. Later in the novel, Zabby begins to feel threatened by well-meaning friends who try to rescue her from her abusive household. I could relate to Zabby’s inner conflict as she wrestles with conflicting feelings of guilt, anger, and love toward her abusive father.

I also loved Berrier’s writing style. I felt like I was sharing an inside joke with the author during little tongue-in-cheek moments like this one: "Willow’s fate was not in the hands of some benevolent author gradually steering the story toward a happy ending" (Berrier 52).

The only thing that may turn some readers off is the way that A Book Without Dragons plays with tenses. Each character’s story is told in a different tense—for example, Zabby narrates her story in first person present tense, while Willow's story is written in third person past tense. Though I wasn't sure what I would think about it, I actually enjoyed this variety while reading. The switch in tenses kept each character distinct in my mind and added a kind of urgency to each character’s story. About halfway through the novel, some of the characters switch tenses. The author’s reasons for doing this become clear at the end of the book. Though I can't go into much detail without getting into spoilers, I didn’t feel that the switch in tenses added much to the book. However, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the plot, and other readers may appreciate it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Short, suspenseful chapters and a riveting plot kept me turning the pages. Complex characters kept me hooked on the story. Witty banter kept me laughing out loud. Because of these factors, I’m rating A Book Without Dragons 4 out of 4 stars. If you enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, you'll love this book. And I believe A Book Without Dragons will satisfy anyone who enjoys a weird and well-told story!

******
A Book Without Dragons
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Post by juliusotinyo » 17 Oct 2017, 09:23

Your review was an enjoyable read. Piqued my interest even with the title.

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Post by kandscreeley » 17 Oct 2017, 09:54

This book sounds like it would be right up my alley! I love seeing the future and then trying to watch as people try to do without technology. I'll definitely have to see about reading this one. Thanks!
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Post by Mwenda R » 17 Oct 2017, 10:19

I like the changing of tenses bit and since I am a SciFi nut then I'll definitely check this one out. I loved your review; Insightful and engaging without spoiling much on the actual story. Thank you for this.
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Post by Ashley Simon » 17 Oct 2017, 11:34

juliusotinyo - the title is what caught my attention, too!
Kandscreeley - I think you'd enjoy it. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Mwenda- if you're a sci-fi nut I think you'd definitely love this one. Thanks for stopping by
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Post by Alicnim » 17 Oct 2017, 21:07

Great review, nice plot as you have summarised. Though I wouldn't enjoy the tenses bit, I might find it distracting.
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Post by Companion Adedeji » 18 Oct 2017, 04:31

This review makes me want to read the book too. Although I'm not a sci-fi fan. The review has endeared me

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Post by ashley_claire » 18 Oct 2017, 09:40

This book caught my attention earlier and I almost chose to review but was worried that the change in tenses would be off-putting. I'm glad you didn't find that to be the case and you were able to enjoy it. Thanks for the well done review!

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Post by Cloe101 » 18 Oct 2017, 14:26

It would keep me at the edge of my seat too. I'd like to read about the age-old questions that it addresses, excellent review.
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Post by Bluecobia » 18 Oct 2017, 18:21

Good review. Sounds like a good book for me to read. I think I might enjoy it. But why no dragons?
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Post by MsTri » 18 Oct 2017, 19:29

I'd seen this book on the Review list and even though I liked the title and cover, I ultimately passed it by. Now I'm feeling sorry that I did, as you make it sound like a great ride. When I was growing up in the 70s, much that we take for granted now - cell phones, laptops, microwaves, etc - were not yet in common use, so a plot built around the lack of technology sounds really interesting. Now, I'll have to pay to read this, *lol*.

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Post by Kat Berg » 18 Oct 2017, 20:37

The title of the book drew me in to read your review, and your review encourages me to read the book. It sounds like the kind I usually love, although the switching in tenses seems like it would get confusing, your review encourages me that it does not. Can't wait to read it!

-- 18 Oct 2017, 20:37 --

The title of the book drew me in to read your review, and your review encourages me to read the book. It sounds like the kind I usually love, although the switching in tenses seems like it would get confusing, your review encourages me that it does not. Can't wait to read it!

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Post by Ashley Simon » 18 Oct 2017, 20:47

Alicnim wrote:Great review, nice plot as you have summarised. Though I wouldn't enjoy the tenses bit, I might find it distracting.
That's what I thought too, but it actually has a neat tie-in to the story!

-- Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:54 pm --
Bluecobia wrote:Good review. Sounds like a good book for me to read. I think I might enjoy it. But why no dragons?
Hard to explain without giving away spoilers... it makes sense after you read it though!
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Post by Ezra14 » 18 Oct 2017, 21:10

Oh, this sounds interesting! Good review. Slightly disappointed they're aren't any dragons though. They should be in more books. haha I can't wait to see how the varying tenses play out.

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Post by ReyvrexQuestor Reyes » 18 Oct 2017, 23:17

Ashley Simon's review of "A Book Without Dragons" is very excellent, to a fault. It sounded so comprehensive, I decided, I need not read the book anymore, the gist is right here, and well. But on second thought, I might still opt to get all these raw, from "the horse's mouth" so to speak. The review could still claim the virtue of being enticing.

The title: A Book Without Dragons might be a misnomer, in my opinion, though. But that is only my opinion. The lack of dragons would readily signify that the time-frame of the story could be in those era where dragons are no longer in vogue, no more dragon-slayers or dragon masters. Or may also be confused as occurring at present time. But nary a bit, one may suspect the near or far away future as the probable timetable of events.

And yet, dragons or no dragons, this is an interesting read.

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