Talker 25 by Joshua McCune

17339959

The basics

Title: Talker 25

Author:

Series: Talker 25 #1

- Talker 25 (April 2014)
- Invisible Monsters (April 2015)
- Untitled (2016)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

It's a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.

In short

The government is after Melissa Callahan when a prank goes wrong and she is framed as a Class One Insurgent. After a bloody battle between the All-Blacks and the dragons in her town, James helps her escape on a dragon which further proves that she’s taking the side of dragons who’ve wrecked havoc ever since their arrival on earth. James takes her to an insurgent hideout and she comes to know the truth about her mother being an insurgent. Slowly, she learns to love the dragons but an attack on a baby dragon hole results in her and Baby being taken away. After watching countless reruns of Kissing Dragons in an underground cell and forced to tell false stories, she’s sent to Antarctica where her job is to lure lone dragons so that the ABs can kill them. She’s talker 25. James is also there and she thinks that he has been reconditioned but actually it’s all a sham. On the day Mel is supposed to kill Baby, the insurgents including Trish helps rescue them in an epic battle and everything is alright. For now.

What went down

  • Melissa and her friends sneak onto a dragon rez to get their picture taken next to Old Man Blue, a huge dragon who always seem to be sleeping, as a prank. Going back, Mel tells him goodbye and he replies to her. Um what.
  • The next day she finds out that someone has edited her picture; removed the boys and added a dozen headless action figures in front of Old Man Blue with bloody-mouthed toy dragons behind each soldier.
  • When she tries to talk to Old Man Blue again at the rez, she meets James who seems to know who she is.
  • At home, agents from Bureau of Dragon Affairs comes to arrest Mel but can’t without a judge.
  • The next day, All-Blacks attack the dragons in her town without any provocation. Mel is at school when it all goes down. Her brother is missing because of her, Trish’s mother dies in the attack and her father is badly injured.
  • She finds James, who’s lost his mother, in a medical biovuac when she goes to check on her injured brother. Suddenly, Blues go on a rampage and James tell her she’s not safe here and the ABs will arrest her as a Class One Insurgent. She and James escape to an insurgent hideout on a Red.
  • There she learns that Keith, the school’s principal and Preston, who went to her on to the rez last night are insurgents and that her mother was one, too.
  • Slowly she learns to trust dragons and see them as something other than monsters. Mel gets attached to Baby, a Silver baby dragon.
  • When most of the insurgents leave to save dragons from another attack, Mel and Baby ride together outside. They spot a baby dragon hole being destroyed by the ABs and tries to save them. In the end, they’re both taken away.
  • Locked in an underground cell with nothing to do but watch reruns of Kissing Dragons where All-Blacks kill dragons, Mel is fitted with a CENSIR circlet which prevents her from calling to dragons for help and sends shocks to her brain.
  • They interview her a few times, make her tell false stories and bring in James, who’s also been caught, to make her oblige. Eventually, they let her see her brother, Sam, who thinks she’s a traitor.
  • Having reinforced her as a traitor, the BoDA agents make it seem like she’s in lockup. However, she’s sent to Camp George in Antarctica, under the control of Colonel Hanks, along with James to intercept dragons so that ABs can locate and kill them.
  • James is taken away to be reconditioned after he refuses to cooperate while Mel spills the names of all the insurgents she know.
  • As a talker, she is unable to intercept any dragons so she’s made to star in a Kissing Dragons episode to kill a dragon. Things work.
  • After a while, she is set to star in a redemption episode of Kissing Dragons in Mason-Kline to kill Old Man Blue, her hometown in trade for keeping Baby safe. Before that, she has to go through another set of interviews where those who lost loved ones come to blame her. In the end, she sees her paralysed father who doesn’t think she has done anything wrong. When the interview doesn’t go as planned, Mel’s CENSIR shocks her to the point of bleeding but she is adamant to get the show over with.
  • She kills Old Man Blue and announces that she want to be the official dragon slayer.
  • Back in Georgetown, James is back after his reconditioning and leading the tally on the number of dragons located.
  • Mel is tasked with asking the dragons questions about Diocletians in the ER. She fails and James does her job for her.
  • Eventually, the crew comes to Georgetown to shoot Kissing Dragons: The Other Side episodes with Mel and James as each other’s love interests. Basically, they’re united so they’ve to make out and then kill a dragon together. Mel cannot kiss James seeing how much he’s changed so Evelyn is tasked with that part of the show.
  • Twenty-One tells her that rescue is coming as she has talked to Arabelle (Baby) as their CENSIRs doesn’t affect them the way they do the others.
  • Mel finds out that Colonel Hanks is executing Baby but it’s Major Alderson who receives her and tell her they don’t have a deal and if she refuses to do the episode, Evelyn will step in instead.
  • In the ER room, just as James is about to hand Mel the sword to kill Baby, it slides into James instead and she faints.

How did it end?

Dragons and wrecking havoc in Georgetown and Mel is delirious so she doesn’t understand what’s happening. They try to escape the artillery, gets into a Humvee but gets into an accident. She wakes up and finds herself on a stretcher being carried by Preston on one side. They take her to slaughter slab where Baby is still strapped to one and licking Twenty-One. She spots Evelyn in an All-Blacks uniform and James is beside her. He’s alive and everything seems to be alright.

anything else

All-Blacks – The dragon forces unite of the army who wear black uniforms because it’s the only color the dragons can’t see except Silvers.
Blues – Dragons imprisoned in research zoos like Old Man Blue.
Bureau of Dragon Affairs (BoDA) – A division of the government that deals with insurgents.
CENSIR – A Controller for Encephalo Synaptic Inhibition and Recording circlet which prevents communication with the dragons.
D-Men – BoDA agents.
Diocletians – An insurgent group headed by Owen White who kills humans in response to All-Blacks killing dragons.
Greens – Solitary assassins who kill everything from humans to each other.
Insurgents – People who side with the dragons
Reds – Dragons who struggle to leave a peaceful existence.
Silvers – Baby dragons born via mating of reds and blues.

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