Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.
Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.
A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?
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Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: blasted love triangle!; some obvious and easy-to-see-coming plot “twists”; an intriguing and surprising ending; character growth (particularly in Garret); action-packed story; some unanswered questions
I’m sure you can all say this first part with me: The cover is GORGEOUS (duh) but also, how did it take me this long to realize that the two covers in this series so far have represented our two main dragon characters? Obviously, Talon is red…as is Ember. And Rogue is blue…as is my beloved rogue dragon, Cobalt/Riley! (Yes, I’m on the Riley/Cobalt team. I just don’t have butterflies about Garret like I do Riley, I can’t help it! I tried! I tried so hard!) The third cover in the series was just revealed the sixth—it looks intriguing, though not quite keeping in line with the dragon scale theme we’ve had going on. Of course, given the MAJOR PLOT TWIST at the end of this book, the chainmail is actually pretty fitting for the finale. Here, look at the beautiful:
“Relax, oh paranoid one. I doubt there’ll be Talon agents hiding in the potted plants.”
To get the most annoying bit of this review out of the way first: what the hell is up with the blasted love triangle?! Why do almost all young adult books set in a dystopian-esque or fantasy world feel the need to shove love triangles in readers’ faces? After finishing The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare earlier this year…no love triangle is ever going to top or beat out that one. They all pale so much in comparison; authors, you should just give it up. You’ll never win over the queen of epic love stories. Don’t even try!
That being said: I really enjoyed the character development of Garret in this book. (I know, I know, shoot me now—I don’t think he’s a good love interest for Ember, but as a best friend he’s got huge potential. You know, if he hadn’t already fallen in love with her.) Seriously, though—he goes through such a huge transformation in this book, it’s astounding! Sadly, he’s about the only one who does any changing in a positive way, though? Riley maintains his snarky, cool exterior…but also develops a sort of crazy-man syndrome when it comes to Ember. And Ember? She flip-flops so often I spent most of the book looking like I was chasing a tennis ball back and forth across the court. Seriously, girl—make a decision and stick the hell with it already! (I know, I just can’t get over this stupid love triangle. I apologize.)
“Oh, is that all?” Riley frowned, gesturing to the broken window. “And how are we supposed to find where this shooter is without taking a hole to the head? I don’t feel like playing whack-a-mole with a trained sniper right now.”
The action is decently written and fast-paced, though I found some of the “twists” to be a bit obvious and lacking. Many of them I found myself guessing way early on—like, right after certain characters were introduced early. Perhaps this is due to Julie Kagawa’s foreshadowing, however—it seems certain things she practically gives away for free, while others she plays closer to the chest. In fact, many of the unanswered questions I was left with at the end of this book—plus the BIG plot twist at the very end—remain ignored, to be answered a different day in the final installment. This balance is both intriguing and slightly frustrating for me—there are certain things I feel I NEED to know now, before heading into the last book, that I’m not sure I have clues for yet.
Overall, I enjoyed this read—the prose is exciting, pretty in some instances, and constantly filled with snark (which I just adore); the plot is well-paced and balanced; the love triangle I would prefer to do without, but… well, I can’t agree with everything all the time, right? I can’t wait to see what the third book brings to the table for this series! I’d definitely recommend to lovers of dragons, fantasy, and action-packed plots—this is a firebreather bound to singe you!