Darwin’s Dragons

Lindsay Galvin (Chicken House)

Darwin's Dragons

Review by Phoebe
Darwin’s Dragon was a roller coaster of a book to say the least. And I did cry. No, the book did not make me sob, but there were a few parts of the book that made me shed a few tears, and in my opinion that makes a good book. I think it’s hard to get people emotionally attached to characters, in a book specifically and to achieve that shows how well developed and fleshed out the characters really are. Is the book plot driven?… not really. It has a very interesting plot, but I think the focus is mainly on the characters, which isn’t a bad thing.

The book is set in 1835, so right at the beginning of Charles Darwin’s career, when he was starting to become truly recognised in his profession. It is definitely interesting to read about a young Charles Darwin. The way he viewed his job and his subjects is much different to what I think many people expect. Like how Darwin actually cared a lot for the animals that he studied and discovered. I also learnt that he was a terrible traveller and it made him extremely sick, which is a nice way to let us get to know him more.

However, the book does not follow Charles Darwin. It follows the fictional story of his right-hand man; Syms. A form of rags to riches story in a way. We find out that Syms was only a mere cabin boy in the Beagle before becoming Darwin’s trusted assistant. The book can be best split between Sym’s time on the island and Sym’s time back home. Throughout the book we get to see how much he has learnt from being with Darwin for four years and the passion he holds for Darwin’s profession. We also follow his growing relationship with, what we think at the time, a lizard. The bond between Syms and Farthing is the most important of the book and it takes a while to build, without making the book seem slow paced in the slightest. A relationship that brought a tear to my eye.

The book is written for young people, I would say. And it is very reminiscent of David Walliams writing style. This makes the book easy to read and understand. Quite a quick read as well I would say. I would definitely recommend this book to a younger audience who are exploring either the early 20th Century or want something fun about Darwin’s work because with a lot of fiction is also a lot of fact.

Review by Molly
I found the golden dragon the most interesting character in the book as it was trying to harm the stranded servant, yet it did not kill him. I did not like the royals, because they could see that Farthing and his siblings were not very happy and did not look well. But they kept them and would not let them go back to their home where they would have been doing amazing.

From this outstanding book, I learnt that they we have had zoo type places for a very long time. The time it was set in, which made the book more interesting as many people did not really know what dragons looked like. So when the servant was trying to explain to his master that he had seen a dragon, which was also trying to hurt him, it took him a very long time to persuade his master that he did see a dragon. Also, it made the servant even more baffled at the sight of seeing the dragon soaring through the sky.

I found the plot very exciting as I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next. Additionally, I would say the part of the story that most stood out to me was where Farthing was trying to help the servant survive on his island and saved him from death. To add to that, I found it interesting how the mother dragon was trying to kill him even though he was saving the eggs and Farthing from the lava. I would recommend Darwin’s Dragon to everyone as I could barely stop reading it. Furthermore, I would highly recommend this book as it is full of adventure and just drags you in on the first few words. 

Review by Neva
Honestly, this book was amazing! It was set during the 1830s, when Charles Darwin was travelling the world on the HMS Beagle. Darwin’s Dragons follows the story of Syms, a thirteen-year-old cabin boy who is a servant of Darwin’s, who gets stranded on one of the Galapagos Islands. This island is home to many exotic new species, many undiscovered, such as a scaly green lizard, later called Farthing. Farthing was by far my favourite character because I found it so interesting that she had adapted to living on this volcanic island by getting fruits from prickly plants. She also manages to find all the nutrients she needs while making sure she is not hunted down.

The plot was very daring and adventurous, as there is a beast that hovers over the island. There was also the mystery is to if Syms was the first person ever to have been stranded on the island, and if he will ever get rescued by the HMS Beagle. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good adventure and the thrill of the unknown and uncertain. If you are a fan of Darwin or his work then this is the book for you! The only thing that nags me is what Lindsay Galvin will write next! 

Review by Oscar
Darwin's Dragons is an amazingly described story about resilience and hope. I was immersed into the wild Galapagos islands and the dull streets of London. I found it very interesting how the theory of evolution was explored as it was not yet proven definite fact and was unpopular since the novel was set in Victorian times. However, I would have loved to see more detail in the ending pages as they felt slightly rushed. This book was thrilling so I would recommend this book for ages 11-14 who love adventure books. Overall, I would rate this book an 8 out of 10.

Review by Jacob
Darwin’s dragons is based on Charles Darwin and his research on the Galapagos islands. My favourite part in the book is when the main protagonist (Covington) found the dragon’s lair and saw all its golden eggs. My least favourite part was when Covington was taken back to England after being rescued by Charles Darwin. My least favourite character was Charles Darwin because he didn’t play a very significant role and didn’t do much. My favourite character was Farthing, the adorable lizard that gave Covington food, water and even beat up loads of seals to protect him. Later in the book it is revealed that Farthing was a baby dragon that had hatched earlier than the others. The most detailed part in Darwin’s Dragon was when Covington was floating out to sea and then got rescued by Darwin so he could receive medical attention. It is such a detailed moment that it gives you a complete mental image of his pain. Overall, this book was very good, and I would recommend it to my friends. It had a nice theme that was constant throughout all the book. If I were to rate this book out of ten I would give it a nine and a half.

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