By Julie Kagawa
*Warning! Minor Spoilers!*
ENGROSSING WRITING. Only Julie Kagawa could keep my attention through a scene about a date at a mall. I have a short attention span when it comes to YA paranormal books. Either they are unique and exciting, or they are Twilight love triangle romances disguised as fantasy books.
This book was in the middle. The writing and scene-setting was phenomenal, but the plot and pacing were so-so. A lot more could have been done with the dragons. However, I appreciated the detail Kagawa gave when describing southern California, one of the most overly used locations in films and books. I liked Ember’s world view of it. Overall, this book moves slowly and the romance develops sweetly like in Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver.
Ember and Dante are dragon-shifting twins. Ember is fierce and outspoken, while Dante is more thoughtful and loyal to their secretive dragon society called Talon. Ember and Dante are sent to southern California to blend in and assimilate with human society. They are also visited by trainers to keep them sharp, because their kind is hunted by the Order of St. George, a militarized group of humans who want to drive them to extinction. Eventually, Ember and Dante will be appointed their place in Talon society which has every role from assassins to surveillance members.
Negative: Ember is rebellious to the point of irritation. Positive: Time is spent on Ember and Dante’s relationship, and you wonder if Dante will remain loyal to Talon or throw in his lot with Ember. Positive: Riley (Cobalt), a shape-shifting rogue dragon, shakes up Ember’s view of Talon. Negative: Riley is inevitably the Jacob in a budding love triangle. The other point? Garret, a soldier in the Order of St. George.
Garret’s viewpoint was more interesting to me, and he can’t even shapeshift like Ember… Yikes. However, Garrett had a more mature, world-weary point of view that made me root for him, and he just seemed smarter overall than Ember, who was incredibly impulsive.
I need to talk about the surfing.
I get that Ember is physical superior, but to read that within hours she is able to surf these 10+ foot waves was unbelievable. That is big surf. Many of the seasoned surfers I know would only venture out in those conditions with caution. Not buying it.
Anyways, on to the actual plot. I would have liked more time to be spent on Ember’s training, because the idea of a shape-shifting dragon is just so interesting. However, Ember isn’t as concerned with her training, so we get treated to countless scenes of going to parties and ice cream parlors and malls. Garret and his crew get a lead that a shape-shifting dragon is in Southern Cali, and the tough, hardened soldiers coolly try to fit in with high school teenagers. That was hilarious to picture without it meaning to be.
However, big points on the end when the dragons actually get their claws out. I’m not an Ember fan, but Garret is tolerable. I’m intrigued to read Rogue, the next book in the series. We need more scenes of this secretive Talon society, stat!
Recommended for fans of: Sophie Jordan, Maggie Stiefvater, Andrea Cremer
Upcoming Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas