Series: Talon #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on 10/28/14
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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.
Talon was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. So much so, that I was almost afraid to read it. I LOVE Kagawa (was so excited to meet her at BEA) and I also adore dragons, so this seemed like a match made in heaven! Then some reviews started trickling in, and they weren’t all that favorable – I started to get very nervous. But, on the positive side I knew a little bit more what to expect, so that helped me when I went to go read the book. The basics of those reviews that I was reading was this – this book isn’t heavy on dragons and dragon-lore. It reads more like a typical paranormal YA with a dragon storyline at its base. So, knowing that going in helped me to set my expectations a bit. I found that I actually ended up being pleasantly surprised by the amount of dragon action that was in the book (especially at the end).
Ember and her brother Dante are dragons who have been assigned to blend into society in their human forms. They have one summer to learn to integrate with humans before they receive their assignments within Talon, the organization that governs all dragons. Ember wants nothing more than to live out her three months in freedom, but she finds that she’s being hunted – and that Talon may not be everything she believes it to be.
Garrett is a member of the Order of St. George – a secret society that has been trained to slay dragons. His mission is to find the dragon who has been secretly placed into a small California town – and kill her. As soon as Garrett meets Ember he’s suspicious that she might be the dragon he’s looking for, but of course, he has to be absolutely certain before he does anything rash. In the meantime, he finds himself falling for Ember and he realizes that, if she truly is the dragon, then everything he’s believed about dragons is not entirely true. They may not be the monsters he’s always believed them to be.
What I LOVED:
- Garrett. I know, I know. This storyline has been done before. The hunter falls in love with the hunted. But, I’m sorry, I’m a complete sucker for this trope when it’s done well, and I thought that Kagawa did it extremely well. I was kind of in love with Garret myself. He wasn’t afraid to act on his beliefs – or to question them. By the end of the book, both Garrett and Ember find themselves reeling, questioning everything they’ve ever believed in, and I was completely drawn into their stories! Oh, and I was definitely shipping Garrett and Ember!
- Questioning beliefs and shifting loyalties. Both Garrett and Ember go through some extreme crises of faith. In Ember’s case, she’s been raised to believe that Talon takes care of its people and that anyone who goes rogue is a danger to dragon society. When she meets Riley, he starts to show her that Talon isn’t telling the whole story – that not everyone is being protected by the organization, and in fact, some dragons are being exploited. Similarly, Garrett has been told that dragons are all evil – that they cannot help their baser natures and are naturally destructive and bloodthirsty. The Order has taught him that dragons will take over the world if given the chance – and it is his duty to stop them. Of course, meeting Ember makes him question all of that. And he starts to wonder if he has really just been blindly following the Order without really seeing the dragons for who and what they are. Garrett and Ember’s journeys are parallel – they’re both learning to think for themselves instead of following the leader. At the same time, both Garrett and Ember have to decide if they’re willing to betray the people who have been most important in their lives.
- Dragons! Have I mentioned that I love dragons? Every time Ember took flight or there was a dragon battle with the Order of St. George, I was enthralled! I LOVED the dragony bits of this story and I can’t wait for more in the next book!!
- The love triangle. I didn’t feel like there was much development in the relationship between Riley and Ember – just a sort of implication that their dragon sides were drawn to each other – so I couldn’t really get behind the love triangle in the book. It wasn’t exactly a full-blown triangle anyway, but I get the feeling that it might be more of one in the next book – we shall see! The love triangle was probably the biggest aspect that kept me from really loving this book.
- Less fantasy than you might be expecting. Yep, those other reviewers were right. Like I said in my intro, this book is less straight-up fantasy and more YA paranormal with dragons and dragon-lore. The characters spend most of the book in human form, and we only get glimpses of fire-breathing dragons. That being said, I LOVED the glimpses that I did get, and the fantasy element really picked up A LOT in the end!
So, while this might not have been full-fledged dragon fantasy, I still found myself on the edge of my seat, loving the characters that Kagawa created for me and fully engaged in their story. I give this one 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time (okay, at least the illustrations did), but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.
Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, an obnoxious cat, an Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and a hyper-active Papillion.