Thursday, August 25, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Jascinda is a draki – the descendents of dragons. She can shift her form into a humanoid dragon, scales, claws, wings and all. It's not easy though, for their kind are hunted to sell their body parts – indeed Jascinda barely escapes when one handsome young hunter spares her life.

Also, like all draki, she has a talent – she can breathe fire and makes her highly in demand. So in demand that her mother (who is effectively human) and her twin sister take her away from her pride in the dead of night.

Taking her to Nevada, to a city in the desert. In the hot, dry air without fertile land, Jascinda's draki will die and she can be a normal person just like her mother and her sister – but she doesn't want that and her draki withering feels like part of her soul is dying.

But who is at the school? Why it is hot hunter guy in her class! What an incredible (and by incredible I mean utterly ridiculous and mockable) coincidence! (No, really, it's a coincidence. The guy hunting her in Colorado turns out to be one of her class mates in Nevada just random chance). And she can't help but love him and she pushes him away but is pulled back – and their passion manages to keep her draki alive in the desert

But she must combat his hunter nature, his family as well as the demands of living in the desert when she longs for home – as well as the pride's demand she return.

So this book was YA, and probably epitomised so much about YA that I dislike. And I have to fight my cynical face because it had a lot of the tropes that are common to YA (and Urban fantasy as a whole if I'm honest) that are a tad tired – Jascinda is also the chosen special one who Does Not Want to be. She manages to maintain book long angst. No, really, there isn't a page in this book where Jascinda is not angsting. Ok she had good reason for the angst – but daaamn, do you need training to maintain abject angst for this long? Did she go to the special Bella Swan school of angst?

If she did, then Will also went to the Edward Cullen school of romance. He illicitly learns her address from the school records, he visits her in the middle of the night, he breaks into her home, he lets himself in the carelessly unlocked door to make her breakfast while she's asleep. Nothing says romantic like stalking. And then there's the fact that she has the twu luv 4eva for a man who kills her people for spare parts.

We also have a pack of mean girls at school who hate Jascinda for – gods alone know, it's a rule. There will be mean girls at school and they will hate our angsting protagonist, just in case she runs out of angst. And we have a tragically dead father and an oppressive mother who Doesn't Understand Her.

As may be guessed, I don't like this book. I don't like teen romances at the best of times, but this was beyond convoluted with the very premise (the coincidence alone is staggering) add in that we have a relationship that is inherently destructive and so utterly a bad idea it makes me want to scream (and, really, “I just saw him like 3 times and now I must have a complete TWU LUV 4EVA moment with my worst enemy!” just doesn't ring well with me and feels more like hormonal crush coupled with an empty head). There is absolutely no way this can end well, and it's beyond skeevy to see her able to just work past the fact he has the blood of so many of her kind on his hands because of the hot kissing

I find Jascinda's justified perpetual angst painful, and her sister's and mother's gross indifference to what they're putting her through makes both of them seem ridiculously unsympathetic and generally pretty damn nasty. It all combines to make absolutely every character in this book immensely unlikeable. Her school mates are hollow nothings, Will's a wet lettuce and his family are violent competitive arsehats – and the old members of the Pride trying to drag Jascinda back are tyrannical arsehats. Arsehats abound.

To get to the story. Well that's about it. She moved to Nevada, school sucks, angst, twu luv, angst, twu luv, angst angst... rinse repeat until something actually happens in the last 10 pages.

As to other marginalised groups? Absent, of course. Erased, erased, erased. But them, given the writing that's probably not a bad thing.

Was this book awful? Yes.

What? Oh, very well, some sugar coating. The concept is a good one, the concept of the drakis and their world and setting is an interesting one I'd love to see developed. It's unfortunate it turned into a teen love story that makes Twilight look reasonable, balanced and realistic and it's unfortunate that I'd merrily cheer watching all the characters being fed into a woodchipper. It's possible, given the concept and the world, that I may enjoy future books in the series. Maybe. Especially if there's a woodchipper.

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