Inferno by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The final volume of the Talon Saga is utterly dependent on your having read the previous four books. There's no attempt at a recap or a prologue bringing the reader up to speed--Kagawa dives right in, and it's either sink or swim. That said, this book ties up all the loose threads and brings the storyline home, in a spectacular and satisfying fashion.
This series did get better as it went along. The first book, Talon, relied a little too heavily on the starcrossed, Romeo-and-Juliet style teen romance. Admittedly, the fact of a dragon slayer's falling in love with the dragon he was sent to kill kickstarted the entire plot, but I could have done with a little less angst and a little more worldbuilding. Thankfully, this problem subsided in subsequent books (although we missed a chance for a polyamorous triad with the introduction of Riley, the protagonist Ember Hill's "fated dragon mate." That would have been....interesting, but in the end she chose her "soldier boy," Garret), and the plot focused on the threat the dragon organization, Talon, posed to the entire world. The final battle here gives us the death of the Elder Wyrm, the destruction of the hideous dragon-clone army, and Ember's ascension to the head and CEO of Talon. (The organization itself has to remain, as dragons are not ready to come out of the shadows. However, Ember is not going to be the murderous, sociopathic CEO her mother was.)
(This final battle, however, does illustrate one persistent sticking point in my suspension of disbelief--the existence of eighty- and one-hundred-foot dragons has never been revealed to humans? Satellites are a thing, and so is cell-phone video and Google Maps.)
All the characters here are well-drawn, and the entire series is expertly paced. If you like YA, as I do, I think you will enjoy this.
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