Reviews /

City of Dragons: The Awakening Storm

Authored by Jaimal Yogis
Illustrated by Vivian Truong
Published by Scholastic

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City of Dragons: The Awakening Storm: Graphic novels have a pull of their own. A bit like a planet pulling in moons and space rocks that happen to come close. Is that how space works? Probably not, but readers, once within a graphic novels orbit will likely stay there. The Awakening Storm will definitely ‘capture’ new readers to the medium, and graphic novel fans will be very happy. This is the first book of the series by Jaimal Yogis and Vivian Truong, and I am now itching for the next one.

At the beginning of the story, Grace’s father dies of cancer, but her memory of the stories he told, of dragons, emperors, and betrayal, stay with her. Three years after that sad time, Grace has moved to Hong Kong with her mother and stepfather, Hank. Her new school is one of the most exclusive in the world, although she finds some great friends. It takes Grace a week to find herself at the start of an adventure. An old lady in a market gives her a peculiar looking egg, certainly not the kind she has seen before. Luckily, she has her friends to help when it hatches, and from here they are pursued by shady looking thugs in dark suits and balaclavas. But what do they want… and why?

First books in a series have a big responsibility to win over readers that will pine for the next book. The title, The Awakening Storm, suggests it’s an adventure only just beginning… even when the book ends. But the set-up is so good! Loads of action, some surprises, and bags of empathy. Each of the friends are in some way struggling with their own hidden problems; in this book we know Grace’s father died. It is very relatable and it’s something we should always be reminding ourselves of.

Grace is also of mixed race. which makes her feel different, especially when used against her by bullies. Her father’s wisdom makes her feel normal,  ‘Whether we look it or not… all humans are mixed… diversity is what makes us strong’. Strength for lots of people comes from books like these. It’s a way to feel included, but also to be heard. Knowing a book is teaching others about a part of you and your story is reassuring. It also means you don’t have to keep explaining yourself, not that anyone has to!

This will be a hugely popular series, though perhaps for Y6 and up only. As brilliant as it is, a couple of bits made me think about the most suitable audience. If you do add this to your school collection, make sure you read it beforehand. However, it’s a colourful, inclusive, multicultural, action-stuffed, sci-fi, fantasy, real-life mix of awesomeness. Grace’s dad’s wise words work for many, many things.

Empathy Collection 2023

This collection is available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools