October 22, 2014

Latest Read: Talon (Talon, #1) by Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Publication date: Oct. 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Category: Young Adult - Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Source: Received at BEA
Summary: Dragons were once 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 are positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. Ember and Dante Hill are the only siblings known to their kind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom but a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy Talon's newest dragon recruits but he cannot kill unless he's certain and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
As a long time fan of Julie Kagawa, it’s hard not to have high expectations. Especially when that author decides to delve into the world of dragons. I personally tend to equate dragon lore with high fantasy so that made Kagawa’s unexpected modern take very interesting. The book is told from three point-of-views. There’s Ember Hill, the main protagonist, sister to Dante Hill and dragon hiding in human form. She’s part of a dragon society known as Talon who have strict ideas about how dragons are supposed to assimilate into civilization and how to treat fellow dragons who don’t share their opinions. Ember and Dante have one summer to live among humans and train for a position among Talon. And it’s during that summer that she meets the two other people who make up the narrative - Garret and Riley.

Garret is a one of the best soldiers belonging the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers and his mission is to find Talon’s newest recruits and destroy them. Riley is a dragon who opposes Talon and wants to find others who are willing to fight back. Both Garret and Riley are looking for Ember, even though they don’t know it right away and soon Ember has to make a choice about her future and who she wants to be. There’s also a matter of who she wants to be with because obviously, this goes down the love triangle route. During BEA, Julia Kagawa mentioned the love triangle but how the choice had more to do with Ember’s decision to embrace her human nature or her dragon side. That’s definitely made clear here and it worked. (I’ll admit - I was rooting for her human nature to win out!)

Ember has all the qualities I typically like in paranormal/fantasy heroines - rebellious, stubborn, strong-willed. Her craving for independence and unwillingness to blindly follow the rules makes it easy to root for her. But also makes the confusion of her loyalty to Talon (and her brother), the growing closeness to Garrett and Riley’s radical but appealing views understandable. It’s a big choice to make and dragon or not, she’s still a teenager. Granted a teenager who can transform into a huge red dragon, but still!

(Major) reservations
I really liked the premise, core story and even the characters to a certain extent but overall, it failed to hook me. If I wasn’t such a fan of Julie Kagawa, I honestly may have given into my temptation to DNF. Part of the problem is the length of the book. It dragged, especially in the beginning when it was setting the stage for Ember’s summer in a beach town, living with strangers and needing to assimilate (aka make friends). Although it did serve to humanize her character, it could’ve been much shorter. I think in general, if the plot had moved faster and gotten to the point of Talon, St. George and even Riley quicker, I would’ve enjoyed the book more. And not just because I’m impatient! It’s just such a urgent and dire situation and yet I didn’t feel any of that urgency. The book’s pace made it seem like each character had all the time in the world to figure out what to do when that obviously wasn’t the case. And while Ember and Garrett's characters were more or less fleshed out, Riley still fell flat by the end.

Do I recommend?
The reviews for this book have been pretty 50/50 and unfortunately I fall on the side that felt this book was “just okay”. I do recommend checking out Julie’s books but maybe start off with her earlier work before giving this one a shot.

Happy reading!

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