Thursday, December 23, 2010


Dragon stories come and go in the trends. Firelight, Sophie Jordan's young adult novel, has a much different take on dragon lore than I've seen before. Though the story matches the current fascination with supernatural beings, Jordan spins it a new way, casting her female heroine (rather than the love interest) as the shape-shifting, half human Draki, descended from Dragons of long ago, and living in our modern world.

I loved the beginning of this book. I started reading, and I was pulled right into the story. I knew this was one that I was going to love and want on my shelf.

Jacinda is a Draki, part of a pride, the only fire-breather in generations. The pride leader wants her for his son, but Jacinda would like to be less conspicuous, less in the spotlight, able to live her own life how she wants. But when she takes a forbidden daytime flight, she becomes a danger to the pride, and they will go to drastic measures to ensure her cooperation. Jacinda's mother knows her daughter isn't safe in the cult-like pride, but Jacinda would rather be there than let her Draki die in the desert, and that's just what her mother intends. To complicate matters, Jacinda falls in love with a Draki hunter who causes her to begin to manifest her Draki in front of him; the problem is no human alive, especially the hunters, must know that Draki are also human.

Cool premise. Nice set-up. Cool cover (a red-headed heroine again, but I'm not complaining). The first third of the book is about perfect. fizzles to a stand-still.

The last half of the book is full of teenage rebellion and angst. It's like trudging through mud in a circle. If you've watched the TV show Smallville, you can compare it to Lana always telling Clark Kent she can't trust him. Yes, we know. You said that last episode, oh, and the episode before that, and, come to think of it, wasn't that the main dilemma last season? You get the idea. All you want is for the characters to move on. Jacinda can't trust the hunter. She needs him because he awakens her dying Draki. She kisses him. Oh, she'd better not do that ever again. She's done with him. Repeat. And repeat.

As if that weren't tiring enough, Jacinda never gains any ground with getting her mother and sister to understand her, and this annoyed me the most. In fact, by the end of the book, Jacinda is feeling like she's been selfish, and there's no emotional resolution for the reader who has been feeling Jacinda's pain and needing for her family to connect with her and support her. The family supposedly does what they do out of love, but it's difficult to buy.

Even the potential danger of the hunter's evil cousins is buried in all the teenage drama. It emerges for a brief, pitiful attempt at a climax, and then the book doesn't end! It leaves you hanging at a point that I thought would be a good place to begin the climax, and there is no emotional or even romantic resolution, let alone a conflict resolution. I guess that's being saved for the next book. Problem is, you need to end one book before you start another! Even the first book in a series should be a good stand-alone book. It should, at the very least, leave the reader feeling emotionally satisfied. But my reaction to the end of the book was literally, "Ugh."

The only pay-off the writer gave me was at the beginning of the book. When I started to read what the pride was like, I was thinking, wow, this is a lot like a cult. I hope the author realizes that. And though Jacinda didn't realize it, her mother did, and this is made abundantly clear. I liked that. But as I said, the first part of the book was wonderful. It felt like the author just filled the rest of the book with fluff to get something long enough to sell and to not use up all her series ideas in one book.

Though I was ultimately disappointed in the book, I can honestly give the beginning a good four stars for ingenuity and beauty. But maybe Jordan would have had a better book if she had just kept her plot with the pride and not tried to turn her story into a modern, everyday teenage drama. Needless to say now, I don't plan on keeping this book on my shelf, after all.

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