Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Title: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Source: Harlequin Teen Australia via NetGalley

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.
Review by Nara

Goddammit, Julie Kagawa and her damned cliffhangers.
Granted, this one wasn't quite as bad as her others (seriously, the one from The Iron Traitor: WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT), but it's still enough to make me want the sequel as soon as humanly possible. Anyone want to help me sneak into Harlequin HQ at some point? Night vision goggles and cookies will be provided.

Kagawa really likes using the trope of forbidden love, and it features in some way or another in all of her books. Talon is no exception, of course, with one of our protagonists being a dragon, and the other protagonist being a member of an organisation that hunts dragons.
Some things did confuse me here:
1. Dragons have been around for centuries/millenia (whatever, it's been a long time)
2. Kagawa states that dragons are emotionless, don't fall in love etc etc
3. Ember falls in love with a human
4. There's a second dragon who possibly is in love with Ember
Now, putting those together, there are obviously some inconsistencies. If dragons don't have emotions etc, then it seems like a heck of a coincidence that two dragons at this isolated point in time appear to exhibit the ability to love. There was also this weird human/inner dragon thing going on with Ember, which I hope will be explained better in sequels. In fact, I hope everything is better explained in sequels, because the world building on the whole was pretty shaky.

Well, ignoring that, the romance was actually pretty good. Strangely, I found myself more inclined to ship Ember with the character who is clearly not the primary love interest, just because I feel like they're better suited to each other. Anyone read the book? Let me know who you ship Ember with; I'm quite interested to know.

Moving away from the romance and world building, the other aspects of the book were pretty well done. There's this big mystery about what exactly the organisation of Talon's purpose is, and all these shady secrets are hinted at throughout the book. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, because I'm sure all sorts of missions will be undertaken to take them down. On the flip side, The Order of St George also seems to be pretty shady, and hopefully that will be explored further as well.

AND DAMN THE CLIFFHANGER. Why must this happen every time...

Really liked it

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 2/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Cover: 4/5

Would you like to read more books about dragons? Try:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Eon by Alison Goodman
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Eragon by Christopher Paolini