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'Talker 25' by Joshua McCune: Dragons vs. Military in this YA novel

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Talker 25 by Joshua McCune

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"Talker 25" by Joshua McCune takes the reader to a world where dragons live. They arrived on Earth fifteen years ago and no one, even the dragons, know why or from where they came.

There were some "misunderstandings" when they first arrived, and many humans were killed. Now the dragons are all considered dangerous and are hunted and studied by the government -- which is determined to eradicate them from the face of the earth.

Melissa lives with her father and brother in a town with a dragon "reservation," where they are kept. While sneaking in with some friends one night, she mysteriously hears a voice talking to her. It turns out that Melissa is a "dragon talker," or someone with whom dragons can communicate.

The government wants to arrest her as a dragon sympathizer -- there are groups of humans who help dragons fight the government. They are called sympathizers. Melissa ends up in their camp and meets a special dragon, a silver dragon. The dragon is a baby and befriends Melissa.

Other dragons in the camp are blue and red. It turns out that the green dragons are the unpredictable ones who love the taste of human flesh.

There are many, many plot twists and characters but the book is well-written and compelling. At times, it's very difficult to read as McCune creates scenes where the government forces Melissa and other captives to torture and kill the dragons they capture. Much of the book is spent with Melissa in government custody, and those scenes are horrible and graphic. Are they needed? Their purpose, one might surmise, is to get the reader's emotions roused against the government and the horrors the men who work for it are perpetrating.

Toward the end of the book, it becomes apparent that this is just the first book in a series. The ending is satisfying -- a bit -- but leaves the reader wanting to know what comes next.

Criticism of the book includes the fact that character development is sacrificed for plot advancement and action. That may be the case, but the only real suffering I felt was that of the dragons in government custody. I felt the important characters were developed enough to make the plot exciting and fascinating.

I didn't want to put this down. I want to read the next book -- now.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Harper Collins, for review purposes.

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