Rating: 4.5 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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’m really not getting all the low ratings for this book. I really liked it and all it’s dragon-ness. I mean, dragons, guys. Dragons. You don’t get much better than that.
This is a much more slow-going novel than Ms. Kagawa’s other series, such as The Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series. So far, yes, both of those other two series completely demolish this beginning to her dragon series. But even that’s not saying all that much. I mean, come on, guys, it was the Blood of Eden and The Iron Fey series. It’s difficult to top those.
Also, this book was written much differently than the other two series. First of all, Ms. Kagawa has tried her hand at multiple POV’s. And while she is good at it, it’s also not my favorite way of using her writing style. Firstly, because I am having a difficult time seeing many differences between Garret and Zeke, the love interest from the Blood of Eden series. There doesn’t seem to be many discrepancies between Ms. Kagawa’s human, warrior male leads. And by that I mean they’re boring.
Another thing is that this is (to my knowledge) the first series Ms. Kagawa has created that is not in some dystopian world or other magical land. I mean, I know The Iron Fey series was written in modern day with the magical fey hidden between our world, but most of the story didn’t take place in a real place, like sunny California. Because Talon is taking place only in modern day California, there isn’t really any world building that we all know and love from Ms. Kagawa.
Sure, there’s the magical world of Talon, where dragons can be themselves. But we don’t get to see any of that. Mostly because Ember and Dante don’t really know much about the real Talon and are being groomed to do nothing but take orders and ask no questions. They’re not told anything worthwhile during their childhood and are constantly supervised by their advisors (aka, scary Talon dragon adults that really need to take a chill-pill).
But besides the very, very few glimpses we get into what Talon is and the history of dragons and St. George, we’re kind of in the dark. But that’s okay, because both Ember and Dante are also in the dark.
When I first started reading, I was kind of upset with the kind of character I was seeing in Ember and even Dante. Ember seemed immature, impulsive, and kind of annoying. And she’s a teenager, so I can get that to an extent, but what I was seeing in the first few chapters was setting off alarms in my head of an annoying, whiny main character.
But it got better. Much better. Ember doesn’t sit around and mop about her horrid trainer and how she’s not allowed to fly and blah, blah, blah. Sure, she does complain sometimes, but not a ridiculous amount. It’s realistic.
I would have preferred more on Dante. We don’t get to see much of him and as of right now I see nothing but a cardboard cutout of a character, which is very disappointing. Especially since I love twins. If there are ever books with characters that have twins in them, especially boy-girl twins, I love it. Don’t know why, but I do. I feel like so much emotional and familial bonds and pain can be derived from having twins in a novel.
But, alas, I did not get that here. I know next to nothing about Dante. Ember and Dante’s relationship is in the dark to me, and maybe Ms. Kagawa did that on purpose for a future novel, but I don’t know. I would have liked to see more of their bond, of their love for each other. Ember constantly makes remarks about how it’s them against the world and how much they love and rely on each other. But what did I see of that? Nada.
And then there’s Riley/Cobalt. He is the future Jackel character, I already know. Which, I must say, will derive no complaints from me. However, I am seeing a bit of this cardboard cutout theme from Ms. Kagawa for her characters. Ember is Allie. Riley is Jackel. And so on, so forth.
“Can’t anyone ever start a fight without all the posturing and cheesy Bond-villain threats? It’s not that hard. Here, let me demonstrate.” And he smashed a fist into Colin’s nose.
I mean, if that isn’t something Jackel would say, then I don’t know what is. (You know, if Jackel even knew who James Bond is and whatnot.)
However, this is a Kagawa novel, and so is beautiful. The writing is amazing and even though there are the minor things about this book that annoyed me at times, the overall theme and idea behind it make up for it tenth-fold. It’s definitely on my list of favorites for this year.
I mean, come on guys. Dragons.
Every time Ember turned into a dragon, I squealed with joy. I love that her being a dragon changed who she was as a person so much. She’s not boy-crazy like other teenage girls. Heck, she doesn’t even see much difference between human males, hot or not.
When she sees Garret, she’s not drooling or blushing like crazy over just how amazingly hot the guy is. Instead, there’s a deeper connection. One that isn’t love, exactly, but something deeper, purer. Dragons don’t (in theory) feel human emotions.