Book Review: When We Were Dragons: A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure


Title: When We Were Dragons: A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure

Author: Brandon Berntson

Length: 127 Pages

Genre: Fantasy & Science Fiction


Not sure where to start with this one. It’s a confusing read. Thought it started out well, but then went downhill from there.




3starMy Rating: 3 Lit Fireflies

Paramis is a world that is inhabited by dragons, and other beings. These dragons are able to change into a mortal form, but differ from humans. Justin Silas happens to be one of these dragons. When you think of dragons, you think of prideful, powerful, fire-breathing beasts. They’re similar here. However, these dragons are exceptionally nice. They have a very innocent guardian/angelic type personality. I found it was quite refreshing to see such innocence from them. Normally I’d expect dragons to have much tougher personalities than the dragons on Paramis, but it seemed to work well in this book.

Paramis and Earth collide. Reading this, you would expect all living life to vanquish. But no… The planets sustained some major damage, but not enough to mess up its surface. Life remained, food intact, and even newly made houses made before the collision were in excellent condition. Though bits of both planets combined its scenery. This was explained to be the work of magic. In fact many of the unexplained questions you have in this story will have the answer being… magic. I was not a fan of this.

It is tough criticizing the many flaws this story has, without going into major spoilers. However, I do want to bring up one. English. Justin and his companion travel around, then randomly stumbling upon a family of humans, and start casually speaking to them as if there is no language barrier. These Dragons speak English? They are worlds apart, yet they happen to speak a language from Earth? Of course one can argue that magic is the answer. But even if that was the case, no humans think to question how it is possible?

Some time goes by with this family, and they begin to grow on you. I’d say up until 70% into this book, I thought to myself that this is definitely a children’s book. Something a child can read, with no heartbreak. But boy I was wrong. Out of the blue, tragedy hits. I have no problem with heartbreak and the death of characters, but the direction this book went, went downhill fast after the cabin scene. It had built up so much innocence, that it should have just stuck with it. I got the feeling the author was thinking and writing as he goes. He invested some time into a selection of characters, only to vaguely throw them away. I have found that Brandon Berntson writes a lot of horror. When We Were Dragons had the potential to be a light, refreshing read, but perhaps his root genre could explain the changed direction the book took. I could not help but feel disappointed.

I haven’t read Brandon Brentsons other writings, but feel he could improve or already has improved as an author. This book came out in 2013, so time has passed. I’m not a fan of horror, so I won’t be reading his current horror books. I am however interested in seeing if his Fantasy/SciFi skills have improved. His character development and conversations were good. I do hope his writings feel less rushed and more planned out, in the future.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: When We Were Dragons: A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure

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  1. Sorry to hear the story disappointed you. It sounds like the author wasn’t interested in some potential aspects of the narrative, like language barriers, but they failed to sufficiently resolve the issues in a satisfying way. Granted, there are plenty of science fiction stories that make use of universal translators, but in the end if the audience still questions then clearly something is lacking.

    I wonder if the author decided partway through to shift to a darker tone, or if they always intended to. It sounds like this might have needed another draft, to better establish all the tones consistently.
    I often think back to the example of the 90s Disney film Aladdin. Originally it started with the villain in the desert, but ultimately it was decided that the story needed to establish the humor aspect early on, so they added the merchant.

    Your review is very well done. It’s clear that you’re carefully sidestepping spoilers while outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the story.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds about right Adam. I actually haven’t read any science fiction stories with Universal translators, other than seeing it in Doctor Who. They make good use of it. In this story though, it was as you said, lacking. As were many questionable coincidences.
      The beginning was worded in a way that one is lead to believe that this story is light hearted, only to end abruptly with so many weaknesses. It’s a shame it was hit like that, because it started out fairly well.
      I has no idea Aladdin was originally like that!
      Thank you very much for commenting something so thought out. I’m glad to have recently found your blog. Your posts are very in depth, and I can learn a lot from them. Especially your Discussing Ratings & Reviews post I read last night. Looking forward to reading more.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Spoilers can be tricky. I review books without giving away spoilers, as much as possible. This book was a difficult one for me to review, because I wanted to point out so many flaws. Yet, held back because I’d be spoiling the book. The end for example. I have so much to say about it, haha.

      Liked by 2 people

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