"Rodriguez Pratt's skilled writing ranges from snappy, believable dialogue to evocative descriptions of an abandoned oil refinery and a terrifying dragon cave...A well-written, intelligent, exciting choice for readers looking to get hooked on a new fantasy series." --Kirkus Reviews
Do you like stories about dorky kids? Drama? Dragons? Then you'll love Choose Your Weapon, the first book in a new YA light fantasy trilogy.
Choose Your Weapon stars Helen Connor, a bright but awkward Hispanic high school sophomore. She feels invisible at school. Her closest friends are Jazmin, a former nerd who's determined to become a popular kid; and Lewis, her boyfriend who's more interested in LARPing than in hanging out with her. And she's still hurt that, four years ago, a sorceress offered her the chance to fight dragons in the world from her favorite fantasy books -- then stood her up. When Helen gets the chance to become a Glorious Dragonfighter after all, the experience is far tougher than she imagined. In fact, it's a lot like high school...except, you know, for the dragons. But despite all the challenges thrown Helen's way, she still plans to fight valiantly -- until a series of incidents reveal who her true friends are.
I started writing Choose Your Weapon in 2010 as a birthday gift for my husband, an avid fantasy and sci-fi fan. I based it loosely on a dream I kept having as a child -- a dream that posed the question, "What happens after you wish for something and it comes true?" Only in the book, I pose the question, "What happens after you wish for something and it comes true...years later?"
All of my life, I've wanted to write a book starring a Hispanic heroine -- someone flawed just enough to seem real, but very likable. I wanted kids of all races and ethnicities to be able to relate to her, but I also wanted Hispanic kids in particular to think, "Hey, that kind of sounds like me. That kind of sounds like my family." I read a lot as a child, but I rarely saw my Mexican-American family or my life in the Rio Grande Valley represented in the books I read. So this book has details that give a loving nudge to my background, while still offering a lot of material that most teens and adults, regardless of their ethnicity, will relate to. We all remember the isolation and frustration of high school cliques. Many of us were called "dork" and "nerd." I'm not sure how many of us fought actual dragons, but we all had our metaphorical ones.
I also loved the idea of writing a fantasy book that mixed the drama of high school with the drama of fighting dragons. I've been telling people, "This book is like The Lord of the Rings meets The Breakfast Club." I think that's a very apt description. It's full of grand adventures and some quests, but the kids in the story all wrestle with their labels -- the dork (Helen), the weirdo (Moe), the jock (Sam), and the preppie (Jack) -- because they're all uncomfortable with the roles they have to play.
Finally, one of my greatest points of pride with this book is the amount of symbolism. I hope eagle-eyed readers catch all the metaphors (and the occasional pop-culture references) I threw into the book.
Enjoy Choose Your Weapon!