Talon, by Julie Kagawa

>> Saturday, April 11, 2015

TITLE: Talon
AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa

PAGES: 461
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: YA paranormal romance
SERIES: Starts a series

‘There are a dozen soldiers hiding in that maze. All hunting you. All looking to kill you.’
To the outside world Ember Hill is an ordinary girl, but Ember has a deadly secret. A dragon hiding in human form, she is destined to fight the shadowy Order of St. George, a powerful society of dragonslayers.

St. George soldier Garret is determined to kill Ember and her kind. Until her bravery makes him question all he’s been taught about dragons.

Now a war is coming and Garret and Ember must choose their sides – fight to save their bond or fulfil their fate and destroy one another.

I read this one for my book club. In fact, I read past even the first few pages only because it was for my book club. It was appallingly bad, so much so that I had a sneer on my face the entire time I was reading it.

Ember and Dante are dragons. They can shift into human form and Talon, the organisation that governs their kind, has been training them since birth. They are now ready to live for a while among humans and learn how to pass for humans themselves, and we meet them on their way to their "foster family". And we start out as we'll go on, with clumsy infodump after clumsy infodump, under the guise of Ember and Dante's handlers checking that they remember their cover and all sorts of details about their own very nature that no one with half a brain would think they could have forgotten.

The story is basic paranormal YA. Ember makes friends and hangs out with other teens, two of whom have secrets of their own. Garrett is undercover himself, as he's part of the Order of St. George, a military sect devoted to hunting dragons. They've received information that a female dragon hatchling has been placed in the area, and he and his partner are trying to figure out who she is. There's also Riley, whom Ember and Dante immediately recognise as a dragon himself. He's clearly a rogue, someone who's left Talon and as such should be immediately reported to the authorities. But Ember doesn't want to.

Can you guess where this is going? I could smell the love triangle from about page 15. It was just as badly done as the rest of the book.

This is a profoundly stupid book... offensively stupid and juvenile and contrived.

The world-building is stupid. The whole nature of Talon as an organisation doesn't make much sense, and I never understood what the hell was the point of Ember and Dante's mission. And also, if you take security so seriously and feel you need to be in full alert all the time, you might want to think of an unobtrusive name for your dragon-girl to take, not fucking Ember!

Ember is as stupid as her name. She's exactly the sort of character that makes me so cautious about what I read in the YA genre. She's supposed to be a dragon who doesn't know how to behave as a human teenager, but I didn't believe that for a minute. She was all stroppy teenager. I didn't think she needed practice at all. She had the melodramatic self-involvement and penchant for idiotic risk-taking down pat. And of course, she's beautiful (flowing red hair, natch) and effortlessly good at everything she tries, whether it's surfing or the combat games her evil trainer puts her through. Tiresome.

The whole thing is predictable and as unsubtle as an anvil falling on your head. I hated every second I spent reading it and felt a huge sense of satisfaction at the cliff-hangerish ending because I will not be reading the next book and it felt like a liberation.

I am, I confess, looking forward to book club next week. The person who suggested Talon was this guy in his mid-30s who didn't seem at all like the sort to go for angsty teen paranormal romance. And he suggested it because it was a book he was already reading (which seems to me to defeat the purpose of a book club, but what do I know). Anyway, I'm very curious to see if he knew what he was suggesting or whether "This book I'm reading" meant that he'd had a peek at page 1!


AUDIOBOOK NOTES: The audiobook narration was almost as bad as the book itself, which seemed fitting. The female narrator was particularly awful. The way she rendered the teenage boys' voices was excruciating. Every time they spoke, even the nice ones, I wanted to slap them. It was all stupid drawls and "duuuuude". Ugh. Ember's voice also made me want to slap her, but at least her melodramatic teenage stupidity was text-based, so it was actually a successful performance. The male narrator wasn't much better, and in similar ways (it was the teenage girls' voices he was crap at).


Darlynne,  11 April 2015 at 19:38  

I've not read any of Kagawa's work, although previously titles seemed to garner enormous praise. All the points you mentioned are why I tend to avoid YA.

Barb in Maryland 11 April 2015 at 21:04  

Oh please be sure to tell us how your book club discussion went.
And a big thanks for the review--the premise sounded interesting. But then I remembered that I rarely read YA any more because I got tired of all the drama, even if the writing wasn't bad.
I hope you are now reading something you enjoy.

Rosario 12 April 2015 at 08:28  

Darlynne: I've had a look on goodreads and there are a lot of people there who loved her earlier books (Iron Fey series, or something like that) but who thought this was awful. So those earlier titles might well be better!

Barb: Will do!

I tend to like YA just fine, but prefer books where there is no romance -that's exactly the opposite to how I am with other genres, like mystery, or fantasy. I like those best when there is at least a romantic thread. Too much drama, like you say!

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