Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Talon Saga #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 400 pages
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Release Date: Nov. 1st, 2014
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
In Julie Kagawa’s groundbreaking modern fantasy series, dragons walk among us in human form.
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 tells the story of a girl, Ember Hill, who must learn to navigate modern day California life in order to blend in with the humans that live there. She and her brother Dante are secretly dragons, hiding under human body shells, sent to Crescent Beach for the summer to learn how to blend in with the population before they can begin their final stage of training to become fully-pledged agents in their dragon organization – Talon – and assume positions chosen for them by their superiors. Ember, however, has trouble with coming to terms with her fate and would much rather indulge in more carefree activities such as flying and surfing and hanging out with her new friends at the beach. After an encounter with a rogue dragon that Ember can’t help but wonder about, and the appearance of a gorgeous teenage boy, throw the young girl into a whirl and she starts questions whether everything Talon has ever told her is true.
This was my first Julie Kagawa book and I now feel that I should definitely have not started with Talon. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kagawa’s other books so I was not-so-pleasantly surprised when this turned out to be such a disappointing read. To be perfectly honest, the thought that I wouldn’t like Talon crossed my mind from the very beginning when I realized this was in a modern setting (because who needs to read book descriptions beforehand nowadays? Certainly not me!) But I kept going because I’ve been meaning to read this ever since it came out.
I have a lot of issues with this book that I’m not sure where to begin. Maybe with the way it’s written, which was way too juvenile for me to be able to accept it and take it seriously. I can’t believe how many times I rolled my eyes getting through this book. A lot of the dialogue felt so forced and completely grating. The inner monologues from all characters we got a POV from was too much for me, as well. (The constant repetition of “my dragon” and “[character’s] dragon almost made me hairless.) Not to mention the huge pet peeve I have when writers tell us rather than actually show us what is happening. I felt like I’m being guided through every page – the character whose head I’m currently has taken my hand and is taking me sight-seeing. Alongside all the telling, the writing felt completely convenient, especially how each character could read the others so well that they guess literally everything that goes through their head (apart from the obvious huge plot points of one being a dragon and the other being a secret assassin sent to kill said dragon, of course.)
There was literally nothing unpredictable about this book. The characters, as I said, guess everything apart from the truly important things, which are kept hidden until the very end for dramatic purposes, leaving both leads completely blind because of the Supposedly Smart Characters Cannot Tell That Their Love Interest Is Their Enemy Until The Climax Ex Machina. It was hard to believe in either Ember or Garret as they were allegedly both highly trained and warned about the signs of recognizing a Talon/St. George operative. But love needed to happen, I guess. I found all the characters, not just the main ones, to be incredibly stupid, or more like stupefied in order for the plot to be executed the way it was. They were all way too overdramatic, on top of that, and it sometimes felt like I was reading a screenplay for one of those telenovelas all of our grandmothers love to watch. In addition, the author definitely didn’t feel the need to further develop any of the side characters – they’re just background noise and plot devices.
While we’re on the subject of telenovelas – the love story was also one straight out of a soap. It happened so suddenly that if you blink you might miss it. There was no motivation behind the ‘love’, nor was there any believably. The characters just meet and “feel” something. (And of course, we have the generic “there’s just something about [character]” to weasel out of actual justification of an already unjustified love story.) Add in the even more unbelievable and unneeded love triangle, and you have the “perfect” formula for the YA novel. Congratulations!
In conclusion, this book is a mess. The writing and dialogue are cringe-worthy and there is no saving grace in the characters either as they’re whiny and unbearable. I went in expecting a compelling story about dragons and assassins, but got a teenage girl’s diary in which every page is basically how her life is so hard and nobody understands her, despite being incredibly likable and every guy is falling head over heels in love with her. Oh yeah, and some mention of dragons. The half star is because it was incredibly easy to skim-read this – skip five pages and you’ve still missed nothing.