Ten pages in, I wanted to put this book down. I was bored. Thankfully, I stuck with the Nancy Pearl rule and waited out the necessary 50 pages. This book was such fun! See, this book has dragons. These dragons make me laugh.
The dragons in this book are like big cats. They'll be intelligently discussing flight patterns, hierarchies, warfare, and then they'll come across a warm sunny spot on the rocks and lie down to take a nap. They're curious and inquisitive and often up on their dignity, and these dragons are an utter delight.
Not only is the premise cool (Napoleonic wars fought with dragons!), but Novik's imagery is often highly evocative as well as amusing. There is a scene where a bunch of the dragons decide to go swimming. I laughed aloud because I could totally see it. It was like a bunch of kids in a swimming pool, where there's the one who's half fish, the one who doesn't actually want to swim but refused to be left out, and the one who screws his eyes shut and does a belly flop.
This does not require extensive concentration, but it's complicated enough to keep the reader's attention and shows the sketchy line between the dragons as pets and as companions. On many details, they seem sharp and focused. The dragon understands mathematics better than our narrator. On others... well, have you ever seen a kitten's curiosity piqued?
Verdict: cute, fun, worth the read.