Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale follows a young dragon named Manycolors who has been burdened with the care of a flightless sibling. The narrative takes short breaks to focus on a human youth named Hote, who battles a mysterious illness as he works with the Watchers studying the dragons’ planet.
With its themes of misfit youngsters, youthful rebellion, and the looming threat of greedy poachers, I quickly formed suspicions regarding how the story might turn out. I’m thrilled to report that the author broke out of those tropes to create something unique, intriguing and unusual.
Manycolors’ burden robs her of everything she holds dear: her beloved companion groombug, Tweekie, and her ability to fly. Even after she is renamed Rumplewing in honor of her broken limbs and written off as a cripple by her clan, the young dragon refuses to give up. Her quest to regain her wings unites her with a scarred groombug who lost his dragon, and pulls her into contact with the planet’s human Watchers–and the poachers they oppose.
Meanwhile, Hote’s troubled relationship with his fellow researchers, and his estranged and abusive father, present an intriguing mystery.
"There is a box, like a kit. It has a doll that must be assembled. I can’t assemble it. It belongs to Radiant."
These are the thoughts that plague Hote, and they became stuck in my head as well. What did the box symbolize? Did it actually exist, or was Hote as unbalanced as the other Watchers believed?
What at first glance appears to be an idyllic fantasy turns out to be solid science fiction as the author gradually reveals how the world and its creatures work. The plight of Rumplewing and her planet, and the mystery of Hote and his box, come to a neat and satisfactory resolution as the story concludes.
This is a poignant tale that will pull you in and keep you turning pages all the way to the end. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I highly recommend you do so!
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)