Dragonfruit: A Look At Character (Sydney Salter)

Makiia Lucier creates an amazingly imaginative world in her new novel Dragonfruit. The lush island paradise is surrounded by dangerous seas--full of sea dragons and dragon hunters. The main character is Hanalei, a girl whose life was saved by consuming a dragon's egg--to the peril of others. 

I like how the characters in fantasy worlds often possess special skills, and Hanalei has a gift with sea dragons that develops throughout the story in unexpected ways. Writers in all genres should think about giving their characters special skills or gifts. A unique skill can add depth, humor or tension to a character's experience in your story. 

Hanalei also possesses a physical manifestation of her backstory--scarred hands from processing sharp dragon scales as a child slave. Throughout the story, other characters see her hands and instantly know about her past. Lucier never resorts to long dialogue explanations about the scars. Everyone in the world knows what they mean. Adding a physical manifestation of backstory is a great tool to remind the reader of a dark past or other event that you want to signal to your reader. 

I did want Hanalei to struggle more with her own personal nature. She feels guilty about the price others have paid after she consumes the dragonfruit, but that's more of a plot point than a personality trait. She's brave, kind and intelligent during many moments in the story, but there were missed opportunities to explore potentially less admirable traits. The lack of flaws made the character a bit flat, and resulted in some missed opportunities for more tension throughout the story. People are so complex, and the most memorable characters reflect that messy mix of good and bad personality traits. 

Dragonfruit is an absorbing story, and I'm still thinking about the unique fantasy world (I will never think about tattoos in the same way again. So dang cool!). But the story is also a good reminder that complex characters enliven every story genre. 


  1. You pick such cool books for your reviews. Snagging this one now...


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