Author: Julie Kagawa
Release: October 28th 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dragons, YA
#1 in the Talon series
Sequels: Rogue (#2), Soldier (#3), Untitled (#4, #5)
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.
Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
I... I just ... I don't know what to say, honestly. I used to be Kagawa's biggest fan, up until the last book in the Blood of Eden trilogy terribly disappointed me already, and now this. I'll have you know that I was already extremely anxious and wary of it, as my friend Tori can confirm, and it turns out my worries were justified.
This book is full of romance, and not the good kind. I loved Ash & Meghan, and I think that is mainly because back when I read The Iron Fey in January 2012, I wasn't quite as well read yet and more gullible towards such things. However, Zeke and Allie's romance was already grating, and now this was just a disaster. I am sorry, but I did not ship either of these couples, because they were both toxic and without anything tying them together. Honestly, these quotes just came way too fast and I just...
“Though there was something about Garret that was... strange. Something I couldn't quite pin down. (...) I wondered if I would ever see him again.”
“She had, very inexplicably, become the most important thing in my life.”
And since we're on it, can I just mention that I hate books that are multiple 1st person POV? If you want to have a novel with a lot of characters, just write it in 3rd person. But always switching up the narrative, it can get annoying. Especially if you're rotating with three people, and I'd bet my ass four starting next book...
Another point is that these characters were ones that I already knew. I liked the fact that Allie from The Immortal Rules was a such a different and diverse character, she was basically the polar opposite from Meghan and Ethan, she was Asian, she was a badass — I loved that. Ember, however, seemed like a mix between Meghan as well as Clary from City of Bones, and not only because of her red hair, green eyes and petite frame that is mentioned approximately a hundred thousand times. Nope, she is also just as stubborn and reckless and irresponsible as Clary was, and the only thing that really saved her from my wrath was that tiny spark of Meghan I saw in her sometimes, that came out in some of her phrases, humour and a little of her more rational behaviour.
But not only Ember is reminiscent of past characters, Garret is also a carbon copy of Ash. They had the same stoic, calm soldier boy facade, the only thing missing was the Ariella-like girlfriend background. Honestly, even the eyes were the same silvergrey that were, again, mentioned about a million times, and there were even some phrases that are almost the complete same.
“You made me forget... some unpleasant things in my life. You made me feel that I wasn't so different after all. (...) I didn't know what I was missing, until I met you.”
Garret says that to Ember around 66%.
This is what Ash said to Meghan in The Iron King
“I felt him smile. "You made me feel alive again," he murmured.”
Aaaand let's, of course, not forget that Riley was the long lost twin brother of Ethan Chase, the bad boy with the leather jacket, only in one thing was he the complete opposite of Ethan: instead of glaring at everyone and snapping at Ember to stay the hell away, like Ethan did with Mackenzie, he constantly stalks her and pushes himself onto her. Guy was a creepy McCreepCreep, is what he was.
The plot... what plot? No, really, what plot? There absolutely was none. This was a contemporary novel for all it was worth. It was beaches and surfing, going on dates to the carnival, sneaking out of the house... there was literally nothing dragon-y going on up until the last 10%. I swear to God, I feel so fucking cheated. There was literally nothing significant happening, this was just average, normal teenage life and it was boring as fuck. And then I'm getting quotes like these on top of that, and I was so close to spewing dragonfire myself:
“I glared at Kristin, wondering what she would do if I dragged her out by that pretty but empty head of hair. (...) None of the core group bothered to remember his name, either. We were all used to Kristin's endless stream of new guys.“
In the end, I am so terribly, terribly disappointed. The characters completely fell through for the most part, the setting and background history, while well done, weren't ever really that important, and the plot was, as I just pointed out, non-existent. This book was one ridiculous romance novel, and not a good one at that. Will I read the sequel? I am honestly not sure. I might, just to see if it's going to continue to be a stupid, airy and content-less Nicholas Sparks novel, or if it's gonna get better.