Book Reviews

Review: “Talon,” Julie Kagawa

September 16, 2015
Review: “Talon,” Julie KagawaTalonby Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on October, 2014
Genres: Dragons, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves / Shifters
Pages: 449
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

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.

I went into Talon a little wary due to the mixed reviews I’d seen. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover a fast-paced story that I managed to read overnight. While there were some aspects of the book I wish hadn’t been as big of a focus as they were, the ending totally made up for it. I found myself really enjoying this new world filled with dragons and a secret order determined to wipe them out.

“They wanted me to sit, listen, learn, be quiet,
when I wanted to run, shout, jump, fly.”
– Ember

I was pretty excited to read Talon when I first heard about it – I mean, I LOVE Julie Kagawa’s books (particularly The Iron Fey) and I was sure her new Talon series would be equally as amazing. I was put off a bit, however, when some fellow bloggers (more than one!) warned me off this one. Curiosity got the better of me, and I began reading some reviews before I dove into the book.

Newly-educated and now wary of the ‘insta-love’, love triangle and predictability of Talon, I kept pushing it to the back of my TBR pile. Since it’s a library book, I knew I was running out of time. Last night, I decided to pick it up finally.

And boy, I was quite surprised. This book wasn’t as god-awful as I’d imagined it would be. The blogosphere usually loves anything to do with Julie Kagawa, so I was sure this one would be beyond terrible if so many people were hating on it. I mean, it wasn’t my favourite Julie Kagawa, but it was still pretty good!

For a book that was 400-or so pages, I was able to finish it in within a day. To me, that indicates something pretty awesome. Once again Julie Kagawa brings out the big guns when it comes to plot-pacing and keeping everything pretty entertaining. The size of the book shouldn’t have daunted me at all.

“Being with him did strange, twisty things to my insides. My dragon instincts did not approve; they still didn’t like this human with his amazing reflexes and bright, intense eyes. The eyes of a predator. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist. And the thought of never seeing him again was unfathomable. Even if I knew it was probably for the best.”
– Ember

Yes, there were a few ‘eye roll’ moments. I could see where some of the negative comments about the books had spawned from, but for the most part, Talon was pretty damned enjoyable. Julie Kagawa once again proves she can weave a good story. This one isn’t as lush and descriptive as her Iron Fey series, and some of the phrases and descriptions she used got tired quick (how many times did we hear about Garrett’s METALLIC EYES or Lilith’s ACID-GREEN EYES) but the story progression and great action scenes made up for that for me.

I was torn between giving this a 3 or 4-star rating. I eventually decided upon a 3, purely because I had to THINK about it. That being said, if the majority of the book had been like the last half, it would have definitely been a solid 4.

Our super fiery dragonell, Ember, was a pretty cool leading lady. She’s reckless, impulsive yet incredibly brave. Sure, she makes a few stupid decisions, but that’s a downside of her impulsiveness, not her lack of a brain. It was interesting to learn about the Talon, St George and everything Julie Kagawa’s new world had to offer through the eyes of a hatchling.

Our love interest and St. George Soldier, Garrett, was alright. I didn’t ‘love’ him, but I didn’t hate him either. I actually liked the relationship between he and Ember, even though it made me roll my eyes a little in the early stages. I think I’m just super critical of the over-used aspects of YA romance stories these days. If I was a newcomer to the genre, I’m sure I would have eaten them up.

“Because you’re exactly like me- you don’t want your whole life planned out. You’re tired of following Talon’s rules, of not having any say in your future. You want to know who Talon really is, but it’s even more than that, isn’t it? You want to be free.” His eyes gleamed, golden and brilliant in the shadows. “And I can show you how.”
– Riley

Cobalt/Riley was kind of a favourite of mine. While I don’t particularly enjoy the way he tries to coax Ember into ‘being with him’, he steals every scene he’s in. I am in full support of he and Ember being awesome-fighting-buddies 100% of the time. He has a pretty interesting backstory, too, being an ex-Talon ‘Basilisk’ who’s now caring for hatchlings he’s freed from Talon’s grasp.

There’s a slew of secondary characters that were pretty fun to read about, too; Tristan, Lilith and Dante all added a different element to the story, fleshing out the characters and the world of Talon. While some characters were particularly loathsome (I’m looking at you Scary Talon Lady!) they were integral to the story.

“A ruse. That’s all it was. Pretend to like this girl. Pretend to have feelings, to pursue some kind of relationship. Earn her friendship and trust, knowing I might have to destroy it, and her, in the end. It felt wrong. Dirty and underhanded, something they would do. But… I was a soldier, and this was my mission.”
– Garrett

Ember’s time as a ‘human’ was a little MEH for me. I was hoping and praying that Talon wouldn’t dwell too long on her assimilation into civilian life. I was here for DRAGONS, not teenagers, dammit! If anything brought the story down for me, it was this portion. I kept waiting for something dragon-y to happen, not more of Ember’s training glossed over or her escapades in the surf.

Though, when Dragon stuff happened, IT WAS AWESOME. The final few chapters were amazing and I couldn’t put the book down. There were a few predictable things that Ember should have been more aware of (her brother, etc.) but by that time, I was really past caring about the negatives because I was having such a fun time reading.

It’s with super high hopes that I go into reading Rogue. I cross my fingers that all Ember’s days of pretending to be human and fitting into the mundane life are over, and that she can fully embrace the awesome dragon she’s becoming as well as trying to outrun both Talon and St. George. There were so many questions raised by the end of Talon that I’m finding it hard to recall them all.

What will happen to Garrett? What is Talon planning for Dante? What had they in mind for Ember before she went ‘rogue’? If you like Julie Kagawa’s books, there’s a good chance you’ll like Talon, even if it’s vastly different from her usual writing style.

About Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy.


  • Reply Kj September 19, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I religiously wreathe Iron Fey series but have really been dragging my feet with this one – I think like you I’ve listen to too many outside opinions! I’ve loved all her other work and based on your review – I should defiantly just pick it up.
    Kj recently posted…Review: The boys of summer by C.J. DugganMy Profile

  • Reply Jodie @ Words Read & Written September 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Man, I REALLY need to get around to reading the next in the series!
    Jodie @ Words Read & Written recently posted…Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerMy Profile

  • Reply Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic September 17, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Ooh this looks so good! I really want to read Julie Kagawa’s books! Great review!
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…The Process of Reading the Last Book in Your Favorite Series (The pain. The feels. THE TORTURE.)My Profile

    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books September 17, 2015 at 3:15 am

      Aw, thank you, Kyra! I really appreciate it.

      You really need to read something by Julie Kagawa! Her Iron Fey series is my favourite, so if you start with that, let me know how you go! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Review: “Talon,” Julie KagawaMy Profile

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