Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

TITLE: Firelight
AUTHOR: Sophie Jordan
PAGES: 336
FORMAT: Kindle
ISBN: 978-0061935084
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: Fans of classic high fantasy creatures and urban fantasy settings. Fans of teenage romance.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form. Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy. Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

The Basics: Firelight is a perfect storm of romance, fantasy, and teenage angst, sure to blow you away. Jacinda is a strong female lead with a unique voice. Her struggles with a jealous twin, overprotective mother, and budding romance make her as relatable as any teenage heroine—even when she’s transforming into a mini-dragon. Will is bold and sweet, with just a hint of tragic. Even when their romance comes off a little too strong, you want to root for them. The plot is full of twists—some easy to guess, some nicely surprising. Even where the romance and plot waxes a little generic, the fantasy world of the draki never does.

The Breakdown: I’ve had this sitting on my Kindle for a while, waiting for some attention. While enjoying a solo Indian dinner in London, I picked it up again—and had a hard time putting it down. Jacinda is immediately likeable. She’s you, whether you are or ever were a teen. Her mother is running her life, her sister doesn’t understand, and she’s torn between wanting what’s best for her family and wanting what’s best for herself. You feel genuinely frustrated for her every time her mother brushes off her fears of losing her draki form in the unhospitable Arizona heat. You can’t help but feel her pain and want her to fly again.

The romance is just the kind of insta-attraction that every teen drools over. A little too suddenly strong for my tastes, but I’ve come to an unsteady truce with this concept. For teenagers, everything does feel pretty strong, sudden, and powerful with love. You’re looking for passion, not companionable lifelong connections. At least in literature; I’m pretty sure most highschoolers end up dating friends. Oh well. Will and Jacinda are definitely sweet together and Jordan cleverly explains away their overpowering bond. It’s a little overdone that Jacinda is now the target of a girl who would rather see Will alone than with anyone else. But I’ll forgive it. The inter-species romance creeps me out a little, but conveniently, Jacinda isn’t all dragon.

Plotwise, it’s a combo of hiding herself from the nearby clan of hunters and holding onto herself, even though the whole point of escaping the pride was to be “normal.” There’s constant tension: will the pride find her? Will the hunters figure her out? The ultra-unique draki world is what turns this from just another paranormal romance into a series I’ll actually follow. They’re descendants of dragons with special powers, which is already brand-new. However, Jordan has also taken great care in creating a world with its own history, customs, and flavor. It feels fully realized, not a quickly-drawn cardboard fantasy world to prop up a romance. There are many secrets about the draki world left to be discovered; I can’t wait to read Vanish.

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