Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 461 pages
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.
Protagonists: The book begins narrated by Ember and Garret a dragon and dragon hunter respectively. While I really liked Ember's character there are a few times that she comes off a bratty even before she learns the truth about Talon, the dragon organization that's raised her since she was hatched. Though, after a while she grew on me more and with her fierce determination she made for a great heroine of this series. Then there's Garret, who has always obeyed the Order of St. George and killed his fair share of dragons in the name of defending mankind from their perceived evil. I'm still not sure why but I liked his character more then Ember's. Even when he was having doubts about the Order he never came off as petulant. Then towards the end of the book we get narration from Riley, a rogue dragon that Ember meets who teaches her about what Talon is really up to. I never really connected with Riley and I'm not quite sure why, but he rubbed me the wrong way a bit. Maybe it was because until he had his own chapters we didn't get to see him all that much and maybe he'll grow on me in future books, but for now I'm sort of apathetic to him.
Romance: What starts out as a sweet love story between two unsuspecting mortal enemies quickly turns into a love triangle by the end of the book. While I'm never opposed to a love triangle, especially one done well, I'm really not sure how I feel with this one. It's hard to take Riley seriously as a candidate for Ember's heart when most of the book her only feelings were for Garret, yet there is a bit of doubt in my mind as to how serious of a love interest he'll become in later books. Overall, the romance between Ember and Garret was done really well, after I got over the fact that the only human Ember is ever attracted to just so happens to be the boy who's looking for a dragon to slay.
World-Building: Going into this book I was a bit nervous that it would be a lot like another YA dragon/slayer love story called Firelight, however really early on it's obvious that these two series, while similar on the most base level, are nearly nothing alike. Usually, in these kind of Romeo and Juliet-esque situations where two people from two warring factions find love only one of the factions is in the wrong and usually it's the one trying to utterly destroy an entire race of beings just because they exist. However, in this story both sides are in the wrong, one more than the other, but it's actually the organization of dragons that seems to be the most sinister, while the Order of St. George, while misguided, is only trying to protect the human population.
Predictability: So for the most part this book is actually pretty predictable. There are a few moments though that really caught me off guard. While most of the books has classic YA tropes, the nuances of this book really shine through. While I can sort of see where this book is going in future installments, I'm at a loss for how this series is going to be stretched out into five books. At the same time, I'm working on a list to see if I can guess any of the twists coming up for the series because even though this is just the first book, I have a feeling there's enough foreshadowing that when mixed with some classic tropes can predict some of the upcoming twists
Ending: The ending of this book was spectacular. Everything sort of comes to a head leading into great action sequences and the consequences of certain characters actions lead into a devastating cliffhanger. The final climax of the book is full of everything a great first installment needs. You have fast paced action, sacrifice, and just enough going wrong to lead into the next installment. The epilogue of this book plays out mare like an extended cliffhanger that piggybacks onto the one already set up by the end of the previous chapter, in fact I forgot about the epilogue and for a second thought the book was done, but that sliver more of story really gave the ending another great punch.
I was honestly debating over whether to give this book 4 stars or 4.5, while I enjoyed the book immensely I knew in my heart it wasn't quite at that 5 star quality yet. I never really connected with the character of Riley, and was kind of disappointed by the love-triangle, however despite that this book is an amazingly enjoyable ride and I'm glad I finally picked it up and read it.