Monday, November 17, 2014

Talon Review

Julie Kagawa's oeuvre has really been filling out in the past few years.  She has twelve novels published so far, comprising of three series. 

 Her first, The Iron Fey, is well respected in the reading community.  It's seen as a minor hidden gem. A pleasant surprise if you stumble across it.  There's even an undercurrent of cult following. (Insomuch as books can have cult followings.)  Definitely not bad for a first series. 

Then came Blood of Eden, and Kagawa hit the mainstream and found success. For the most part, most readers found this series superior to The Iron Fey, and excitement started growing around Kagawa as an emerging author.  

So, prior to its release, readers have been speculating over Talon, her first offering of her newest series, and whether the book would top Blood of Eden. The results came in and... ouch. The book has been pretty much universally panned. And now, I'm going to continue the hate parade. 

Talon is a huge step backwards for Kagawa.  The progress we saw between her first series and her second has regressed.  I've been trying to pin it down, and I've concluded that the main issue with Talon is its overly light and casual tone combined with the fantastic (in regards to "fantasy") subject matter. We have a teenage dragon who is in hiding in her human form. Okay.  She loves to surf and hang out at the Smoothie Hut. No.

Part of the issue is that I can't take the plot seriously when it involves a dragon's discovery of mango smoothies.  Free from the mall-rat elements — and yes, the characters do take a visit to the mall — I might have been able to get behind the plot.  

Basically, dragons exist, but they're in hiding, as they're hunted down by a secret society of soldiers, called the Order of St. George.  When dragons are teenagers, they're sent by their secret society, Talon, to get some real world experience and be assessed to determine their dragon-y profession.  In Talon, Ember and her brother Dante are sent by Talon to Southern California.  However, matters are complicated when the Order of St. George gets a bead on their location and sends their own teenagers to sniff the dragons out and destroy them.

If you're rolling your eyes at the summary, imagine reading the book.

My other main complaint, is the horrible, horrible characterization of one of the love interests — Garrett. (Disclaimer: I'm going to cease being erudite in the slightest and just rant now.) We know he's a big, tough guy from the get-go because of his lexicon — completely stiff and overburdened with words like 1400, vehicle, M-16, caliber, Glock, rounds, position, Bravo, objective, combat, civilians, soldier, mission, sir.  Garrett is a caricature.  Instead of being alluring, he becomes laughable, especially as it's revealed that he's emotionally moronic.  Here's a small sample:

She smiled, and I felt a weird twist in the pit of my stomach. Odd.
When she’d first looked at me on the beach, my entire body had seized up for a moment, something I’d never experienced before.
 What wasn’t familiar was the way my skin prickled when Ember smiled at me, the odd pulling sensation in my stomach when her gaze met mine. The way my throat was suddenly dry as she walked away, her lithe body swaying as she broke into an easy jog, loping down the sidewalk. 
 I noticed her cheeks were slightly pink as she drew back, and felt the heat radiating from my own skin. Embarrassment or...something else? I hadn’t been around many civilians, certainly not many females my own age. 

Garrett's character is so emotionally repressed he's ridiculous. He's wound up tight enough where I thought he'd explode at any moment and start stabbing people. This clip encapsulates my opinion of this "romantic hero" perfectly:

Overall, I give the book two north stars out of five.  I'm not sure that I'll be checking out book two, Rogue.  I'll have to wait and see what other reviewers think.  However, it is my official recommendation that you leave Talon on the shelf and find a better book to read.


  1. First of all love the new blog look!! Secondly the setting to Talon really confuses me. California and mango smoothies.... huh?!? I thought this was set in a fantasy world......

    1. Thanks! And yes, the setting is peculiar. I seldom like it when classic myths and and folklore are brought into a modern setting. Kendare Blakes latest, Antigoddess, had me feeling the same way. An exception to this is Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series.

  2. I flipped through the book at the library and decided that it wasn't for me. I wasn't a huge fan of her Iron Fey series though, so I wasn't too heartbroken over this :P.

    1. Yeah, it was kind of a mess. Have you read Blood of Eden? It's her best series by far. It had some issues, but I legitimately enjoyed it.

      Also, always nice to see you here! :)

    2. I haven't actually heard too much about it, but I shall add that to my list :).

    3. Yikes! I love recommending books, but I get some jitters when I make recommendations to reader's whose tastes I admire!

  3. I'm glad I didn't bite. Gareett sounds robotic...maybe he is a robot? I mean, if you can create a dragon who has a penchant for mango smoothies, then what's stopping Kagawa from inserting this major character twist?! The possibilities are endless! Endless, I tell you!