“Talon” by Julie Kagawa

Talon

I love the cover, both how it looks and feels.

I had high hopes for this one.

Quick summary:

It’s summer and Ember and her twin brother, Dante, are finally let off Talon’s compound to try at blending in with humans. They are dragons, and in order for them to survive, it’s imperative that they are adept at adapting to human lifestyle while being wary of any threats.

What threats? Those would be attacks from the Order of St. George, a militaristic group of dragon slayers. The Order of St. George has been at war with dragons for years so to strengthen their forces and increase survival rates, the dragons banded together and formed Talon, which is a sort of government that maintains order among dragon populations and ensure the group’s survival.

Ember and Dante are hatchlings, being just teenagers, and each day they train in the mornings to prepare for their placement in Talon’s order, and hang with their friends in the afternoon to improve on their interactions with humans. To strengthen their cover, they are placed with a human couple as their guardians. While hanging with friends one day, Ember meets a rogue dragon called Riley, who tempts her with promises to unveil what Talon really is about. Interacting with a rogue dragon is a crime in Talon and Ember is at first torn about what to do since she’s obligated to report him, yet she wants to know more about Talon. Also, the dragon in her is attracted to the dangerous rogue. Meanwhile, Riley is intent on convincing Ember to leave Talon, which he believes isn’t as good and helpful as it seems.

However, Ember also mets Garrett, a human boy who makes her heart flutter, when he helped her and her friends out of a tough situation. But Ember isn’t aware that this new boy that she likes is a member of the Order of St. George sent to lure out and kill the new hatchlings. Garrett isn’t sure who the hatchlings are and hangs with Ember and her friends to figure them out. But he’s out of his element when trying to act like a normal teenager and is especially awkward whenever he’s around Ember. The feelings she stirs in him are all new and strange and he finds it hard to concentrate on his mission.

My thoughts: (minor spoilers)

I bought this book for two reasons: 1. Because of the cover’s texture, which is made to feel like scales, and 2. To compare it to Seraphina, another young-adult novel with dragons that can become human, and discover a new dragon-to-human novel to enjoy. Of the former, my purchase was a success and I continuously rubbed my hands all over the cover while reading just to feel the scales again and again. But of the later, this book was a fail.

At first I thought that I disliked this book because I expected too much from it, but then I realized that the story is just not great. I was so upset with the characters and the predictability of the plot that I stopped reading about 100 pages from the end. It was easy to tell what would happen next. The premise, though, is interesting, and when I first heard of it, I immediately wanted to read the story to see how it measured up to Seraphina. Prior to reading, I saw Talon as a modern version of Seraphina, and in some ways it is since it’s set in the modern day. Other similarities that the books share include how dragons regard humans and their emotions (avoid them and don’t get too attached), the name Order of St. George, which make me think of knighthood and saints, and the need for dragons to hide their identity. Other than those, there aren’t many similarities.

Talon is bland where Seraphina is detailed. Seraphina has depth and all Talon has is a bratty protagonist in an annoying love triangle. Yes, I dislike Ember. I understand that she wants to be independent and able to make her own choices but she doesn’t consider the repercussions for her actions. She is selfish, inconsiderate, and impulsive, and most times her refusal to acquiesce to Talon’s orders come across as juvenile and extremely pointless. Not that I agree with her brother, who believes it’s best not to question anything, but I would of liked it if Ember stood up to Talon for stronger reasons other than just to be stubborn.

I was also annoyed by the romance. First of all, I’m tired of love triangles. Absolutely tired of them. And to make matters worse, the romance between Ember and Garrett was so….sappy. I just couldn’t stand it. Of the two, I rather the buildup between Ember and Riley, which seems more intense, but even that one I couldn’t stand for long, probably because I don’t like Riley either.

Speaking of the characters, I found it hard to believe how they claim to be, especially Garrett and Riley. Am I really to believe that Garrett is unaware of all he claims to be unaware of? The book is set in today’s society. Garrett is trained as some top military personnel and I’m to believe that for all his 18 or so years, he’s never played a video game to the point where Ember, the dragon, has to instruct him on how to play. I get that he never left the Order’s premises but he must have been aware of all the changes in the world while training. It’s just hard to believe he’s clueless about certain things when he wasn’t exactly isolated from society. It was cute sometimes but most times I found his reactions over the top.

And then there’s Riley, who didn’t ring true to me. What exactly is he fighting for? He doesn’t seem to have everything planned out. No reason is given for why he seeks to lure away Ember and not Dante as well. At one first, I thought it’s because he figured out that Dante had reported him when he first appeared in their area, but later Riley says that he came to the area specifically to get Ember so why is she so special? I know it’s not because he likes her because he seems not to have developed feelings for her until he met and flew with her. I began to think that he’s lonely and wants company so he went for Ember. Maybe he wants a girlfriend.

The way he attempts to lure away Ember doesn’t make sense to me. He has yet to give any definite information that Talon is evil and he has yet (100 pages from the end) to answer any of Ember’s questions, though she hardly asks them. As such, I think Ember is dumb as hell because she constantly puts herself on the line to prove herself to Riley but gets nothing in return. Speaking of Riley’s pay outs, I really think that he’s just talk and no action. Apart from lack of evidence of Talon’s evil doings, it doesn’t seem that his hatchling-rescue efforts are well planned. He lures them away with promises of a better life but his life doesn’t seem like it’s better than what Talon provides. I guess it depends on how one looks at it, or maybe it’s revealed in the 100 pages I didn’t bother to read.

As for the prose, I didn’t like it. It was too bland and lacked the detailed passages I sought. It’s possible that I felt this way because I read Unteachable prior to this and it’s filled with detailed passages that I enjoyed. Another thing about Talon that irked me is that at 100 pages from the end, I’ve yet to know the color of Ember’s scales. I’m guessing it’s red because the scales on the cover are red and Ember is the protagonist, but it’s not mentioned in the story. Also, I’m not a fan of the multiple perspectives used to tell the story. But I think my reaction to the narration is more a reaction to the love triangle and my disliking the characters.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

I would not recommend this book. I would instead point readers to Seraphina, which is better executed and loads more interesting. There are some readers who enjoyed Talon but it wasn’t for me. Despite my disappointment, I’m not sorry for purchasing it because for me, the cover is the best thing about this book.

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