by Julie Kagawa
To be published on October 28, 2014
by Harlequin Teen
Source: ARC giveaway at BEA
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: Talon was not at all what I expected. For some reason, I had the idea that the book would be a YA fantasy, rich with dragon lore. Instead, I thought that Talon read like a straight-up paranormal romance and was surprised that the dragon-y stuff stayed mostly on the back burner. However, this turn of events was not entirely disappointing; I'm not a big fantasy reader and dragons as protagonists aren't really that compelling to me.
After thinking about it, I decided that Talon felt a little reminiscent of a Vampire Academy or a Bloodlines. Talon features a contemporary American story world in which paranormal creatures live alongside humans. Twins Dante and Ember are dragons disguised in human form who are sent by an organization called Talon to live undercover in a Southern California town called Crescent Beach. There, the twins discover members of the Soldiers of St. George, who are dragon hunters, and also encounter rogue dragons who've fled Talon. So, a bit like the dhampir hunt the strigoi and Sydney is sent undercover to Palm Springs, Talon features paranormal creatures who can pass as human; several different factions in opposition, including one group that hunts another; characters who then begin to question their orders, and forbidden love that develops between various members of these groups. All these things made the VA and Bloodlines compelling to me, so while I was surprised, I was definitely on board for this kind of book.
I did miss the amazing worldbuilding that Julie Kagawa pulled off in the Immortal Rules -- the world in Talon seemed a lot less dark and a bit more pedestrian, though I'm sure more details will be added in fiture books. Then there's the matter of the romance. That aspect of the story started off strong, but then about three quarters of the way through the book, a love triangle developed. I wasn't thrilled about that, as I'd been hoping for a book without that particular brand of angst.
All in all, I enjoyed Talon. If you go in expecting rich, fantasy-style worldbuilding or a lot of dragon lore and dragon action, you may be disappointed. But there is a lot there to enjoy. Even given that love triangle, I'm intrigued enough that I'm willing to read at least one more installment of this series to see what develops.