by Julie Kagawa
I picked this up because it’s been a while since I read Seraphina, and the sequel doesn’t come out for months still. I figured this would be my dragon fix. Really it made me appreciate Seraphina all the more. I have admittedly only read one Kagawa novel previously, the start of her Iron Fey series (for a lot of the same reasons I didn’t dig this one in terms of character and world building). I didn’t really dig it. And when I saw devout Kagawa fans on goodreads, fans of the same series I didn’t enjoy, disappointed with this novel, it maybe should have been a clue. But it also could have gone the other way that out tastes were just on different ends of the spectrum and I actually would love this novel.
Ember and Dante are twin dragons, and having a sibling as a dragon is a big deal, because it happens so rarely. They’re both still hatchlings by dragon standards, even if they match up perfectly with our teens. They are sent to a remote California town to train in blending in, and experience some form of freedom become they get their assignments for Talon, dragon society. Things are complicated when a rogue dragon starts lurking around, and there are rumors that the Order of Saint George, or the dragon hunters, are also skulking about.
Dragons have a secret society, because of course. I love secret societies. Secret societies are fun. Too bad we never get to see it. So all of Ember’s whining about “Talon” is a whole lotta hogwash to me because I don’t know what she’s talking about. Aren’t we just hanging out at the beach all day with some breaks for Ember to train with an evil teacher training lady? Gosh forbid we establish something so that the reader knows what we are breaking away from. Ember tries to tell the reader what she’s fed up with, but I want to see it. I’m tired of Ember telling me things. Let me experience some action please. I mean, come on, there are dragons, I thought that was a free admit one ticket to action.
The characters are like vague stereotypical sketches of people. I get no real sense of Ember at all, even as she seems to suffer from fascinating person syndrome for all the boys around her. For me she comes across like a spoiled, entitled girl with no conception of the world. Which is fine because growth and imperfect characters and compelling, but this doesn’t seem to be the point. Everyone around her loves her on sight, am I supposed to love her too? Because I don’t. I really don’t. Also they make a big deal out of her new beach friends that might as well be named Friend 1 and Friend 2, who I don’t even remember if there are more friends, for all that they really get to develop personalities. So much potential just sitting there in the form of Friend 1. Garret is this teenage perfect soldier boy with no real backstory to explain it. Ember’s brother Dante may be the most compelling character in the book for me, if only because he seems to have a lick of sense (after all, I have no reason to know why we’re “rebelling”). Also they spend all this time talking about how rare is is for dragons to have siblings. This is interesting. Give me more. I want more sibling stuff.
Oh, also, love triangle. The blurb got me because it seemed to indicate a Buffy/Angel dynamic with Ember and Garret. Dragon and dragon hunter. Still cliché, but if done right it can be awesome. Which can also be said of love triangles (hello Cassandra Clare Clockwork trilogy), but at this point the love triangle needs to be something really compelling to get me. Your characters and your story better earn that love triangle. Spoiler alert, they don’t, especially with these boring as all get out characters. Also her attraction to the other guy basically boils down to the fact they can fly together. It’s like, “oh look at that, we are the same species and you are not my brother. I like you.”
I am just frustrated because Kagawa comes up with these amazing ideas full of so much potential to be everything I want. I want to like her books so bad. But the development just hasn’t been there fore me. Maybe this just isn’t my cup of tea. I was going to try Kagawa’s Immortal Rules books, but now I just don’t know. If you had good luck with ‘em talk to me about them.