Series: Talon #1
Published by: Harlequin Teen on October 28, 2014
Genre: Dragons, Fantasy, Romance
Source: BookExpo America
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 wasn’t what I imagined
Here’s what I THOUGHT Talon would be:
- Dragon lore/history
- Dragons blending in with society to take over government/military/organizations
- Dragons in disguise assassinating humans
- Dragon politics, hierarchy, and structure
- Epic dragon battles and wars
- Dragon training programs
- Forbidden romance
Here’s what Talon actually was:
- Largely about a teenage girl living a ‘normal’ teenage life (or pretending to)
- Beaches, parties, the mall, boys
- The girl happens to be able to turn into a dragon.. but that doesn’t mean she ever does
- Very little information about the dragon history, politics, or hierarchy
- Sort of a forbidden romance, but Ember doesn’t actually realize it’s forbidden so it doesn’t feel like a forbidden romance
As you can see, it’s not quite what I imagined.
Remove dragons and you get the exact same story
This was my number one problem with the book. If you removed the dragon aspect from Talon, you’d still have the exact same story. Why? Because although Ember and her fellow dragons are dragons, they can turn into humans and they spend the ENTIRE book in human form. Or, at least, I can count the number of times they shift into dragon form on one hand. There is a bit of dragon talk, but not much.
The bulk of the story is about Ember’s mission, which is to blend in with humans. This results in most of the book reading very much like a normal “teenage girl romance” book. We read a lot about Ember going to the beach, making friends, going to the mall with said friends, commenting on which guys are hot, etc. But every now and then we’d get a small snippet to remind us that she is a dragon (like “Surfing is almost as great as flying!” or “I wish I could shift and nom this asshole but I’m not allowed to.”).
I think I just so desperately wanted an epic dragon book and instead I got a semi-typical teenage girl book with a small dragon element. Like, “I’m playing the part of a teenage girl but I COULD shift into dragon form if I really wanted to. Remember that.” Meh.
The romance wasn’t bad
It wasn’t fabulous or earth shattering and I never got excited feels, but the romance wasn’t bad. There is sort of a love triangle, but not really. Ember and Garret have a slow-brewing romance, which was really nice. Julie Kagawa spent a lot of time slowly building it up, so I came to like it, even if I didn’t love it. They did have a few cute moments!
Then there’s a third leg: Riley, the rogue. However, he isn’t in the book a whole lot (compared to Garret) and I always got the impression that Riley liked Ember more than she liked him. So it wasn’t a full on, in your face, annoying love triangle. Also, Riley could get a bit rapey at times:
“We belong together, you know it as well as me. Say you’ll come with me. Tonight.”
“We just met.” Ember sounded very human then, like she was trying to convince herself. “I don’t even know you, really.”
“This is instinct, plain and simple. Human emotion has nothing to do with it. Stop fighting it. Stop fighting me.”
Yeah, Ember, stop fighting it. Just give in. You’ll enjoy it.
Overall, it was very ‘okay’
Talon wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I wanted FIREWORKS and FIREBREATHING and TOTAL EPICNESS! I was excited just at the idea of dragons in YA! FINALLY! But what I expected and hoped for wasn’t what I got. It’s really just a “teenage girl meets forbidden boy and falls in love while defying secret society” kind of book. You could strip out the dragon aspect entirely and still understand it.
I’m not necessarily giving up the series, but I’m not super excited to move onto the next one either.