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Smolder, Crackle, Pop

Jenny reviews Firelight, the first book in Sophie Jordan's dragon romance series, which is a bit too teen angsty for her.

Smolder, Crackle, Pop

BOOK REPORT for Firelight (Firelight Book 1) by Sophie Jordan

BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Straight Up Teen Angst
Bonus Factors: Dragons! Dragon Hunters
Relationship Status: Don't Stand So Close To Me

The Deal:

Dragons have evolved. Now they can look like us. And they have a plan. (Only kidding, they really don't want to rule the world, and I believe there are more than six models.) They call themselves draki, and live in misty mountain villages, hiding from the human world, and those who would hunt them. Ever since Jacinda manifested, her every move has been monitored by the leaders of her pride. They have special plans for her, because her draki gift was thought to be extinct, and all Jacinda wants is to be left alone, free to fly and feel the sun on her back. So, like you do when you're a teenage dragon, she sneaks out of her village to spread her wings. And, of course, has a run-in with dragon hunters while she's out. During that harrowing experience, a surprising (and handsome, naturally) young hunter spares her life, but the pride is not so forgiving. Jacinda's mother takes her and her sister on the run, against Jacinda's wishes, and once they are settled in a dry and desolate place, who should Jacinda see in the hallway on her first day of school, but the same hunter who spared her?

BFF Charm: Nay

I liked Jacinda, and I might ask her to sit with me at lunch, but I would not be giving her my charm, 'cause girlfriend is way too depressed and angsty for me. I mean, what her mom did--making her leave her home and suppress her draki nature-- was tough, but she did it to protect Jacinda. It's totally mom's fault that she didn't tell her daughter the truth from the beginning, because how can parents expect their teenaged children to just follow orders, no questions asked, and be happy about it? I know mom was trying to protect her, but not coming clean about what the pride had planned for Jacinda just set her up to act out the role of a bratty, rebellious teenager. Then on top of Jacinda kind of wanting to go back home the entire time, mom picked a place that would not allow the draki in her daughter to flourish, causing Jacinda to feel like a her mom wanted a part of her to die. That was pretty unfair, even if it came from a place of good intentions. So I feel bad for Jacinda, and realizing she's a teenager def. helped me deal with her selfish decisions, but I didn't feel bad enough to want to take on all that crap and be her BFF.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

I have to be honest, the swoon in this story didn't completely reach me. To help you understand, I must confess that I am very good at suspending my disbelief when reading fantasy (In other words, I take the lore v. v. seriously.). So although there were TONS of tingly moments in this story, being around Will brought Jacinda's withering inner draki back to life (So when maybe I was supposed to be feeling the swoon, I felt instead that she was just desperate to not let the draki part of her die.). To me, the love in this story felt selfish, which, I think, is actually an accurate portrayal of most teen romance, but it didn't sweep me away. I felt that Will's love for Jacinda was much more real than her love for him. There is a lot of smoldering going on, but I sort of took it to be, uh, literal.

Talky Talk: Straight Up Teen Angst

Sophie Jordan captures the voice of a confused and conflicted teenager perfectly, and her writing style flowed gracefully. Her lore is perfectly interesting and well thought-out. It was actually my favorite part of the book. If you enjoy fantasy as an adult, I would recommend this as a fresh idea well-told. But I do believe it will appeal more to teens, because of the angst and frustration Jacinda is ruled by.

Bonus Factor: Dragons!

Okay, when Posh and I were at BEA, and the Publishers first mentioned this book as a 'dragon romance', I giggled. But I have to hand it to Ms. Jordan- her draki are very cool. The descriptions of transformation from human to dragon form painted a very detailed picture without going all J.R.R. Tolkein. And hey, dragons!

Bonus Factor: Dragon Hunters

You can't have dragons without dragon hunters, right? Of course, in this story, you're not rooting for the dragon hunters so much (except when Jacinda got particularly annoying.).

Casting Call:

Thanks to our reader, Carla, for helping us beef up our library of ginger-haired actresses! I have no idea what this young lady acts like, but she sure is pretty.

Rachel Hurd-Wood as Jacinda

Jared Padalecki as Will

I know he's probably too old now, but if he still looked like he does in this picture, Mr. Padalecki would be perfect.

Relationship Status: Don't Stand So Close To Me

I had some fun with this book, but while we were getting to know each other, I got the feeling that it wanted me to go all Mrs. Robinson on it, and I felt... not so much. I mean, really, I'm practically old enough to have been this book's teenaged-runaway mother! I think I succeeded in sidestepping awkwardness between us when I explained to the book that it wasn't its fault that I was too old for it, and we were able to part on friendly terms. And before the book left to go back home in time for dinner and homework, I welcomed it to come see me again when it was a little older (i.e. the sequel).

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Harper Teen. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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