Friday 6 February 2015

Co-Review - Talon

Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 28th October 2014
Publishers: Harlequin Teen
No. Pages: 461
Source: Purchased | Review Copy - Harlequin Teen
Rating:  | 
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.

Initial Feelings

Amanda: Well, that was highly disappointing. I literally have no idea where to start..
Stacie: I know how you feel, this is a book that to say I was really looking forward to would be an understatement.
Amanda: Oh, same here. After disliking Immortal Rules, I was seriously hoping I love this like The Iron Fey, but no.
Stacie: I think for me, Julie Kagawa's books will always be on my reading list but only ever to enjoy, not wow. You know?
Amanda: I can understand that, sometimes you just don't fall for an author.

Amanda: So, I rated this 1.5 and you rated it.. 3? That's an unusual difference for us.
Stacie: It is, normally we don't differ that much and in a way it's refreshing a little, haha.
Stacie:The reason I gave it a 3 though was because despite there being a few things I didn't like or get about the book, I still enjoyed it.
Amanda: Sadly, I cannot say I felt the same. Guess it's time to take to the stand eh?

Playing Hide and Seek with the Genre

Amanda: First off, I've got to say, I think my biggest issue was that it didn't read like a fantasy novel, or at least, it did on a very little basis. We're talking about dragons and politics and murderous orders and secrets and untrustworthy people of authority and we got, surfing.. and arcade games.. and walks along the beach. I just don't understand where everything went wrong.. where was the fantasy we were promised?
Stacie: I completely agree, when I heard how low you and Charnell had rated it I still expected to like it more because I love fantasy, yet when I started to read it I was wondering when it would actually get to the fantasy part. I think the reason it didn't come across as one is because of the lack of backstory into the dragons history, we got some from Garret but next to nothing from Ember (or any other dragon) themselves.
Amanda: Exactly, all I recall backstory wise was something about constant war and how the numbers in dragons dwindled until they came together and had more babies. There were small mentionings of actual title roles within their politics, but it was never delved into, never explained, the actual fantasy aspect of having dragons and laws and god-damn being dragon like was just never explored, not really.
Stacie: I'm glad to see it wasn't me, throughout reading the book I was really struggling to keep focused and because of this I kept thinking 'am I just missing something, has the book just become so much about the beach and feelings that anything vital about the dragons slips me by?' I think if there was more explanations the book wouldn't be half as bad.
Amanda: I second you there. If it read more like a fantasy and less contemporary-like, this could have been a fantastic first installment to a great niche series. I'd have taken some pretty big info-dumps if it meant understanding more if I'm honest.

Immature Characters and Silliness

Stacie: One of the things I think would have made this book a little bit better would be if it wasn't set from first person POV, Ember's way of talking and how she sometimes came across as nothing more than spoilt really let the book down. Same goes from the dialogue, it made it hard to read sometimes. I was sick of hearing about Ember's dragon. I also didn't like the repetitiveness or the detrimental way they called them Hatchlings even though they had a name, it made it seem more childish than I think was intended.
Amanda: I agree, if the story had been set in third person, it could easily have been so much better, there would be less inner monologue, which always annoys me, Ember would have instantly seemed much more mature and less silly, and there could have been a better flow.
Stacie: I'm different, I actually like inner monologues, specially when it gives you more insight to the character. But it was pointless, it didn't serve as a way for us to better understand the 3 characters.
Amanda: It did feel pretty pointless didn't it? Internal monologue only helps if you're going to develop the characters.

Amanda: That and I disliked how there were three points of view - I can't fault that they sounded very different, but there were nothing about these characters that enabled me to connect to them. They were just frustrating in the end.
Stacie: I do agree that in a way they sounded different, I think because they were sometimes all dealing with the same 'I shouldn't like them but I do' feelings it made it difficult for me to determine any unique characteristics. Plus, I started out liking Garret but along the way as his 'voice' changed so did my opinion of him, he went from being on the extreme end of listening to everything he was told and hunting dragons to experiencing puppy love over night, thus ending my attachment to him.
Amanda: Aww, really? I'm in contrast, Garret was possibly my favourite part of Talon. I really enjoyed getting into his mind - when he wasn't all forbidden love obsessed - and seeing what makes a soldier, what makes somebody like him tick, and I kind of liked seeing him soften as the story progressed. He was foolish in the final chapters, but I've definitely got a soft spot for him..

Amanda: I did kind of appreciate the relationships in Talon though, like the one between Ember and Dante, at least, during the first half, it was a nice inclusion of using twins, it's not something seen often in fiction, and Ember's unwavering love for him was a nice feature.
Stacie: I know what you mean, her love for Dante throughout the book was one of the only things that felt consistent. I would have actually loved to read more about him because even though I know the book was about her, being a twin in their world was something that never happened so I think Dante should have been giving more time in the book.
Amanda: Oh definitely. In fact, I'd have traded Riley/Cobalt for some chapters in Dante's perspective. I think his emotions, his thoughts and his protectiveness over Ember would have been really great to read about, especially if it was served with a side serving of mental torture choosing between her and Talon - it's one of the few reasons I'd consider giving the sequel a shot.

Amanda: I guess even the friendships weren't that bad, although less water-boarding and more actual fantasy aspects would have been much appreciated.
Stacie: Yep.. though I liked the friendships I couldn't stand her friends. I've really never liked when an author writes teenage girls or guys shallow and obsessed with parties/clothes and the rest. I couldn't help but think that as they were a big part of the story and to seeing the softer human side of Ember, more time could have been spent on developing them better so they didn't come across as really annoying and just filler.
Amanda: ^ Perfectly said.
Stacie: Thank you :P

No Burning Hot Romance Here..

Stacie: The love interest/triangle was something that made me want to put the book down on more than one occasion. No one likes an insta-love, but when it's predictable and lacks passion/chemistry it just makes it worse.
Amanda: Oh I am so with you, don't even get me started on the romance aspect. I just - *screams at the sky!* It felt as though most of the disliked romantic tropes were used in Talon and they just didn't work. The insta-love between Ember and Riley/Cobalt was just too much for me, especially when Riley/Cobalt became overbearing and pretty creepy, he reminded me of Morphus in Splintered, which is never a good thing.
Stacie: I see what you mean about Riley/Cobalt, he did become overbearing but considering he was another dragon, I put the insta-love more down to being primal, and it made more sense that way, animals (and humans most of the time) mate for life so him feeling something when he first looked at her seemed normal in a way to me.
Amanda: I'd never considered it that way before..
Stacie: I agree that he did claim her as his own instantly but that again I'm putting down to primal instincts.
Amanda: Still, he could have at least asked her her favourite colour before making grand gestures. Currently, mines orange. What about yourself?
Stacie: My favourite colours are red and grey, always has been since I was around 14, thanks for asking :P

Amanda: I do have to admit though, I actually liked Ember and Garrets relationship with one another, at least, minus the soppy 'I didn't know myself until I found you'-ness, I quite liked how they supported and balanced one another out, at least, how Garret developed around Ember and explored his emotions more, and how Ember grew a little, just a little more bearable in those moments, it's one of the few things I actually liked about Talon..
Amanda: How did you feel about the whole forbidden romance aspect between them? You usually like that sort of thing.
Stacie: Haha, you know me too well.
Stacie: Yes, forbidden romance is something I am so for in books, you give me a story with one done well and it's pretty much a winner. But I like some mystery with it too and though like you, I enjoyed parts of their relationship, I pretty much knew what was going to happen the minute we first met Garret and Riley/Colbot, and, I felt like the romance development was more one sided - I just couldn't get on board with it.
Stacie: For me, I feel like Garret grew so much more than Ember over the time they spent together. It took him far longer to question his superiors than her because sometimes it seemed like she would have believed anything bad said about Talon, without any real facts. The inner torment Garret felt as his feelings grew was far more believable to me than that of Ember's.
Amanda: See, I knew you had some soft feelings towards Garret, how could you not?
Amanda: His feelings and emotions were much more realistic for me too, he genuinely seemed to care for Ember. It was sweet.

So Many Questions

Amanda: How do you feel about all the unanswered questions, like what Dante's been training for, and the politics between the dragons? How Kagawa's going to breathe some fire (get it?) into this series?
Stacie: In all honesty I'm not sure.
Stacie: Sadly there is too many unanswered questions in the story its hard to pin-point the most important. The politics is something that’s only slightly been touched on, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.
Amanda: Yeah, more answers on the world and the politics is a big must.
Stacie: As already mentioned, I would love to see more of Dante, not only is he important to their race being a twin but I would love to know what he is actually training for. I think it could be a spy mission or for a war, haha.
Stacie: Have you got any theories and what you think could happen in book #2?
Stacie: Did you also know there is going to be 5 books?
Amanda: Personally, I'm betting on getting Dante's perspective, considering how Talon ended, and I'm convinced there's something deeper involved concerning him, maybe he's playing a two-sided game with Talon? His protectiveness and feelings for Ember, I think, would be too much to ignore.
Amanda: As for answers, I doubt we'd be getting many in the sequel. For a five book series, which is just crazy in my opinion, there was barely any plot or world in this installment, I think Kagawa would have to drag out some of the bigger questions to keep readers guessing. I fear for the people who loved this book and how long they may have to endure a soppy, disastrous love triangle too. Ouch.
Stacie: I think, although he does of course care for Ember and her safety, I don't think Dante's playing a two sided game, I honestly think they have brain-washed him.
Amanda: One day, teenagers might actually be able to trust their seniors in fiction.. *sighs*

Amanda: I guess you'll be continuing the series then?
Stacie: I am, I try not to judge a series before I've read more than the first book.
Stacie: I'm not sure when I will though but if it doesn't pick up afterwards, I think I'll just forget about the rest.
Stacie: How about you?
Amanda: I'm really not sure if I'm honest. My brain tells me 'no, avoid this series, seriously, dragons are not for you', but there's a small part, hoping that Iron Fey wasn't just a blip. Most likely though, I don't think I will be.

Overall Verdict

Stacie: The thing I love about Julie Kagawas books is she always tries to go that one step above the normal genres, and her ideas for the stories are absolutely faultless and so unique, sadly I'm always left with a sense that something was missing. Her books always have the potential to be brilliant fantasy, but sometimes I wonder if by trying to be different, her characters and other vital things to the story suffer. As already mentioned, I find this story to be very predictable, I felt to much was focused on Ember being normal (going to the beach, hanging out with finds etc. etc.) that her dragon side was forced to take a back-seat. I didn't know the series was a 5 part, so I am hoping that as we get further into the bones of it, things will take better shape. One thing I want? For it to actually feel like a fantasy!

Amanda: I think after quite enjoying Iron Fey and being pretty disappointed by the starts of Blood of Eden, I was hoping for a determining factor as to whether Kagawa's work would be for me, and Talon just didn't hit the right notes. For a fantasy novel, there was very little. The romance aspect felt overwhelming and lacked enjoyment, and Ember's naivety and lack of general knowledge really was disappointing. I wanted dragons, I wanted a brilliant, expansive world with depth, mystery, intrigue and real war - I got surfing and dinner dates, with a side helping of 'you two need to get a room already'. Talon was not the book I was expecting, and I'm really disappointed.

We also have individual reviews on Goodreads - Stacie | Amanda


  1. Oh my gosh, I understand how you two feel entirely!
    I'm a huge fan of both The Iron fey and The Immortal Rules, and while I did enjoy Talon, it was nowhere near as awesome as it could have been.

    Great review :)

    1. I think it's a mixture of expectations and hype, it just brought this book down A LOT for me. Thank you! :)

  2. I love this style of review, guys! Definitely keep it up. The whole back and forth thing makes it sound more like a discussion, a book talk if you will and it's so much fun to read!

    I actually LOVED the blood of eden series SO MUCH. And I haven't read Iron Fey but I want to, even though I don't like fey all that much. I've been meaning to start this because another blogger told me how good it was, but I'll definitely keep your points in mind. I hate character immaturity/silliness ;(

    1. Thanks Nova, we were worried about how people would react to it, but it's worked well, we might do another in the future then! I think when are forewarned, it can help, so good luck with your read of it :)

  3. I totally agree with you girls. This didn't feel like a fantasy book at all. I wanted epic dragons, but we just got... people. And it just so happened that they COULD turn into dragons if they WANTED to... but they didn't (or rarely).

    Julie Kagawa has been all over the map for me. I ADORED The Immoral Rules, then I hated The Iron Fey, and then I was "meh" about this book (I gave it like 2 or 3 stars).

    1. It sucks when you don't have a firm grasp on whether the author works for you or not, seems we both suffer this.. It had so much potential but didn't hit it's mark, glad I'm not alone with my opinion.

  4. YES! 100%. I was so disappointed by this book. It was my first Kagawa book and it's actually put me off reading anything else by the author. I just.... NO! I could not stand the characters, the romance or the lack of fantasy. It was not what I was expecting at all and I really wish I could get my time back.

    1. Oh really? Well, I would say to at least try her other work, Stacie enjoyed Immortal Rules, where-as I liked Iron Fey, one of them might not be a bad choice for you? Maybe try the library? :)


We appreciate the time you take to leave a comment and do our very best to reply as soon as possible.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...