Rogue by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As others have said, this book is definitely better than the first in the series, Talon. The reason it's better: More dragons, more worldbuilding and less romance.
There is a lot of backstory here I can't wait to find out. How does Talon, the dragon organization, think it can conquer the human world? What are the hidden links between Talon and the Order of St. George, supposedly their greatest, oldest enemy? Who is the Elder Wyrm, and how does he play into this? Finally: What the hell does that cliff-hanging epilogue mean?
This book is written with four first-person points of view, a conceit that sometimes doesn't work. It's a good thing the chapter headings specify who is speaking, because the characters' voices are not as distinct as they could be. That said, the characters are well treated throughout the book. There are four POV characters altogether. Garret is the Perfect Soldier of St. George who commits the unforgivable sin of falling in love with a dragon and questioning the organization that raised him, and untimately his entire worldview and life. Dante is the twin brother of our nominal protagonist, the loyal lickspittle of Talon who would do anything to advance his plans for himself and the organization, including betraying his sister. Cobalt, AKA Riley, is the rogue who is stealing young dragons away from Talon, and we get a good backgrounding on him--his character is deepened and expanded throughout this book. But our protagonist is Ember Hill, the impulsive, reckless hatchling everyone else's emotional arcs revolve around.
This is due in no small part to the dreaded love triangle. This is becoming such a cliche in young adult books nowadays I'm somewhat disappointed Julie Kagawa is resorting to it in this series. However, in this book, as opposed to the first, the romance is much better balanced with the overall storyline. The suspense is ratcheted up and the stakes are higher. Kagawa writes some gripping action scenes, and Ember is not a damsel (or dragonell) in distress, thank goodness. She fights in both her human and dragon forms (and those dragon-on-dragon fights are damned good--hurrah).
I'll definitely check out the third book in the series. There's a lot of threads to tie up here, and I hope Kagawa can stick the landing.
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