I first encountered this book as part of the Reader's Challenge program put on by the local library system. Interested participants were expected to read a list of 30 books in a certain timespan, at the end of which each person was tested on their knowledge of details from those books. Those with the best scores formed a team that would compete against the teams from other libraries in a trivia challenge. The books spanned many genres and topics, some of which were definitely more interesting to me than others, but none more interesting than Dealing With Dragons, which was my first foray into young adult fantasy.
I never finished the whole list, but I fudged enough right answers to earn a spot as the team's alternate - y'know, in case something should happen to one of the other middle-schoolers before the big reading competition. What kept me from finishing the books? I was too busy re-reading this one over and over! I was hooked. Wrede's writing style, the compelling and admirable main character, and the cleverness of the story were intoxicating, I simply couldn't put it down!
The story follows a princess who, though lovely, wasn't the kingdom's typically vapid, courteous, well-mannered royal lady. Cimorene was driven by a thirst for knowledge and adventure, and I love her. I wanted to be like her, relentlessly pushing forward and doing what made her happy. Eventually her distaste for the stuffy, narrow role expected of her in the castle, she flees in search of adventure, and finds it - when she becomes a dragon's princess. The book left me wanting more, and I was pleased to find there was an entire series!
I've read them all, and re-read them all, countless times. The characters and plots are constantly exciting, even fifteen years after I first cracked the spine. My dragon collection began after this book; I even switched my jersey number after reading Dealing With Dragons, because five was considered a fashionable number in the kingdom of Linderwall! For such a little-known series, Wrede's books have definitely had a profound effect in my life!
Do you have a favorite book, or one that touched your life deeply? How did your reading habits shape your future? Is anyone else as in love with Cimorene as I am?!