Saturday, 11 September 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

"With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki - the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda's rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can't resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she's risking not only her life but the draki's most closely guarded secret."

Draki are the decedents of dragons. Their ability to take human form is their biggest secret, and their greatest defense from the hunters who track them to capture them for their skins and abilities. 16 year old Jacinda is the first fire breather in her Pride for generations. She's rarely seen as more than a prize, and all her Pride wants her. Cassian, son of the alpha, intends to win her however he can. He already sees her as 'his.' But after she and best friend Az have a very near miss with hunters, her mom takes her and her twin Tamra away in the middle of the night.

Stuck in the middle of the desert, away from the life giving cool, moist mountain earth and air, Jacinda's draki will fade and die. Her mother's draki faded years ago, and Tamra never manifested. They're both human and very happy to be out of the Pride in the human world, for Tamra it's a chance to finally be normal away from all the attention Jacinda gets. For Jacinda, it's a death sentence. Her draki isn't just some part of her, it's who she is. She can't live without it.

Then she meets Will. A guy who literally gets her hot. When she's near him, or touching him, Jacinda's draki thrives. And the attraction seems to be mutual. But Jacinda knows Will is a hunter. And he has no clue she's a draki. Being near him is dangerous, possibly deadly, but Jacinda will do almost anything to keep her draki alive, including getting close to the enemy.

I loved this book from the start. Jacinda's voice, her passion for her draki, for flight and freedom, drew me right in and didn't let go. I held my breath right along with her in the second chapter when the hunter got too close. I felt her pain, anguish and uncertainty as she tried to understand and keep her mom and sister happy in a place that was killing her.

I loved the tension between Jacinda and Will. He isn't like most of the hunters, that much is obvious from the start. His family are killers. But Jacinda's draki gets very close to the surface when she's near him, and I loved seeing how she tried to keep it hidden from him, constantly running away at inappropriate times. Which doesn't make things easy for either of them as she can't be honest with him about why she keeps withdrawing from him.

There was an almost constant dark, tense edge to the book as well, with two main sources. One was Cassian, who Jacinda knew would find her eventually, and that he'd try to force her back to the Pride to be his. Something she was very keen to avoid. The other came from Xander. He's Will's cousin and probably Jacinda's biggest threat. He's noticed her because Will did, and the competition between the two means Xander wants her as well, but not in a good way.

I loved the mythology used as well. The idea of dragons having evolved to draki, shifters, with different kinds and abilities, worked very well. I actually would have been happy with more on the myth and details of the different types of draki, and how the Prides work, than we got. There was enough to get in to and to explain things, but there wasn't any extras. Which probably works great for some people, who will prefer the bigger focus being on the romance side. Personally, I'm very, very curious about the draki and I want to know more!

There is a little predictability to this book at times. You can see some things coming, work them out before they happen. But I didn't actually mind this too much because I was really enjoying getting to know Jacinda, and Will (who, by the way, = HOT (very literally for Jacinda...)), and following their story. Their reactions to the issues and obstacles thrown their way made the predictability of certain things not matter. The heart of this book is the love story between two sworn enemies, I don't doubt that at all. But it's also about the draki, Jacinda's draki, surviving as the hunters chase them. And it's about a girl, torn from everything she knows, facing huge life changing decisions and secrets, learning about herself and trying to make the right decisions. I was really impressed with her towards the end of the book, because there were times I didn't exactly like how she was acting, but she grew up a lot. Lost some of the naivety surrounding her at times. A very, very good read I highly recommend. The ending isn't a cliff hanger exactly, but it definitely left me wanting more! Easily finished it in a few hours because I couldn't put it down as well, they went far too quick! 9/10

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