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Liz C. (Chico, CA)
I have ambivalent feelings about John Shors Dragon House. Shors is a masterful writer who makes the country of Vietnam come alive for the reader. The plot and characters of the novel, however, were a disappointment. Most of the characters fit a stereotype that I considered one dimensional and clichéd: the daughter of a Vietnam vet travels to Vietnam to take up the work of the father she barely knew; her childhood friend and Iraq War veteran, who is both physically and psychologically scarred by his war experience, and agrees to accompany her to Vietnam at his mothers request; the selfless, noble (and beautiful) Vietnamese woman who works at the center. I never got a sense of what motivated the characters. The plot, too, was formulaic and too predictable to hold my interest.
Sue J. (Wauwatosa, WI)
A Must Read
The highlight of the novel for me was the relationship between the two street children, Mai and Minh. Shors did an excellent job of capturing their voices and characters, and their devotion to one another. The problems of street children are very real and I appreciate Shors effort to bring their lives and experiences to the attention of general readers. Yet in the end I felt like I was reading a well written fairy tale that left me wanting more.
Dragon House is themed around Vietnam street children. John Shors captures their life through his words. His descriptions of the sights and sounds of Vietnam were vivid, I can still feel the thrill of being on a scooter in Ho Chi Minh City. Dragon House is a real page turner. I highly recommend it!
Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)
I enjoyed reading this story very much. The author painted a grim picture of the lives of children living on the streets of Viet Nam, specifically Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon), and how two Americans open a center to save those children.
Kate S. (arvada, CO)
The book is a page turner and I recommend it to those who want to read a tale that is fast paced, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming.
I have mixed feeling about the novel. The story was interesting and I enjoyed reading it. That being said, I felt that the writing was a bit uneven. The author is a good storyteller and did a wonderful job developing the characters. I actually cared what happened to them. What took away from the story was frequent "repeating" of feelings, thoughts, etc. I also found the ending a bit too "tidy". It felt more like a made for T.V movie than a serious novel. It was not a bad read, but I felt left with a "wanting more" feeling.
Sharon B. (Rome, GA)
Nice Story of Healing and Redemption
The daughter of a Vietnam war veteran travels to Ho Chi Minh City to run a center for street children. She takes along a childhood friend who was disabled in the Iraqi war. Together they confront a language barrier, corrupt police and a host of unsavory characters to get the center up and running. It was a good read, although I was put off by the anti-American sentiments and some of the dialog was tedious. This is one of those rare books that will make a better movie.
Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)
This was a very well written book - characters were marvelous. It's a book you hate to see end and there is a very poignant message to be learned here.
Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)
A Satisfying Story
When I first started reading Dragon House, I found the writing to be a bit uneven and stilted. I had trouble staying with the book and put it down several times before I finally got into the story. Iris Rhodes flies to Vietnam to see the children's home her father was building in Saigon before his death. The author never really explains why her father felt compelled to do this, but the reader can surmise it was motivated by guilt after his involvement in the Vietnam War, a guilt that kept him estranged from his family throughout all of Iris's life. Those of us who reached adulthood during this era can completely identify with his need to rebuild the city in some meaningful way. Iris is accompanied by a childhood friend, Noah, who brings with him physical, mental, and emotional scars from the war in Iraq.
Sandy C. (Houston, TX)
A well written book that will sweep you away to another world
Once Iris and Noah reach Saigon, the story starts to pick up momentum. The reader meets the various characters and in spite of my earlier misgivings about the writing, I became attached to them all. The process of healing for both Iris and Noah keeps the story moving toward a very satisfying conclusion. It is a feel good story, complete with a few teary moments.
Dragon House tells the story of two American friends, Iris and Noah, who travel to Vietnam to finish the work that Iriss deceased father started to establish a center for street children in Saigon.
John Shorss writing transports the reader to another world, from vivid descriptions of the gorgeous landscape beyond the walls of Saigon and Hanoi to the heartbreaking depictions of the squalor and cruelty of street life. I could see (and smell) the streets of Saigon as well as the shores of Nha Trang and Halong Bay. Shors also does a good job of developing the characters - from Noah, an Iraq war veteran who is battling back from a debilitating injury and struggling to find himself, to Mai and Mihn, two street children struggling each day to survive in a storyline a bit reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire.
Dragon House also wraps in a love story and a plot filled with intrigue and suspense. I would definitely recommend this book to others. A real page turner.