Review Detail

5.0 1
Middle Grade Fiction 897
An Unlikely Alliance to Save the Dinosaurs
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
I don’t think I’ve ever read a middle-grade book featuring dinosaurs as all of the characters. Scientists believe a giant meteor may have struck the earth, drastically altering the climate, and killing all of the dinosaurs. This book presents is an alternate reality where the meteor doesn’t kill all of the dinosaurs as the survivors have adapted to the new world. These creatures have the ability to talk and think and species have merged into three groups. Two of the three are herbivores while carnivores form the last group of mostly-independent predators. While dinosaurs have developed the humanlike characteristics of speech and community, they’ve also acquired the ability to wage war. Eleri, the main character, is able to ponder the concept of killing and envisions the value of all lives.
Readers will enjoy the wonderful underdog story where the main characters are expected to die. They’re all exiled to the Deadlands for different offenses but their herds assume they’ll never survive the barren, dry, toxic lands full of meat-eating carnivores. Eleri, disgraced runt son of a prince, is kicked out for warning an enemy about an impending danger, and Tortha, the enemy heir to his herd, is banished for not killing Eleri when ordered to. To complicate the situation, they’re from opposing herds and have deep-seated feelings of animosity for each other. Tortha’s destiny makes it more difficult to adapt to an alliance since she’s trained to become a warrior and has a grumpy personality. Sorielle is a seemingly naive, kind creature but she has an amazing mathematical brain. Lerithon is a world traveler and speaks in philosophical tones while providing spiritual and navigating guidance for the others.
The author creates mystique through events and characters to keep readers wondering. Eleri notices a secret meeting between unlikely characters that doesn’t make sense to him. He also observes some carnivores that seem to be working together even though he’s always been told that doesn’t happen. A minor character flies overhead with the intent of selling secrets to opposing sides in the war. He’s able to view happenings on the prairie and in the mountains and he accepts a deal with a hidden character to ensure Eleri dies. However, watching Eleri and his new team causes him to have second thoughts so readers will have trouble predicting what he will do with this new information.
What didn’t work as well:
I have a hard time visualizing the dinosaurs as they interact, especially as talking, sentient creatures. It might have helped if the author had included pictures of different dinosaurs in the beginning along with identifying their different herds. The introduction already has very general descriptions of each animal but illustrations would help readers envision the lesser-known ones.
The Final Verdict:
The author expertly develops personalities for the main characters, especially the star, Eleri. Readers will empathize with them as they’ve all been exiled from their friends and families and they struggle to survive the Deadlands. The plot builds to an exciting climax and the resolution leads nicely into a sequel. I recommend you give this book a shot.
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