Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2010
Where I got it: I got an ARC from the bookstore where I work.
Jacinda is a draki. As a descendant of dragons, she has two forms: her human one, and her truer draki form, complete with glimmering skin and gossamer wings. What makes her even more unique? Her ability to breathe fire, thought to be lost among her species.
Unfortunately for her and her family, Jacinda's pride sees her as an object to own and use, too valuable to lose. And when she almost gets captured one night by draki hunters, a decision is made by the pack leader, though Jacinda isn't sure what that decision is. Her mother, however, does understand, but refuses to let it just happen. And so she packs up Jacinda and her twin sister Tamra, fleeing from the pride and everything Jacinda knows and cares about to a dry desert that slowly begins to kill the draki within her. Until she meets Will, who is inconveniently one of the hunters she encountered that fateful night her family was forced to flee—the one who let her go. Now she must try to fight her growing attraction toward Will (as well as fight off his for her) and hide her true form from him and his family—the greatest protection they have from hunters is the well-kept secret that they can take on human form.
Finally, a paranormal romance where the paranormal one is the girl. It is a completely unique shapeshifter tale, at least among YA—dragons have never been able to shift to human form in any other book I've come across. The pacing is very quick, with scenes that will make your heart race, even if you suspect the outcome. The romance between Jacinda and Will is also very believable, even though their circumstances are obviously far from the ordinary. I understood how they were feeling, and I was rooting for them all the way. Plus, who doesn't love a Romeo-and-Juliet type romance?
I really liked that Jordan incorporated normal school issues with the supernatural ones, like bullying and fitting in at a new school. Mean girl Brooklyn is a villain I'd like to throttle, and her evil knows no bounds. She infuriated me, which I think was the point. On that front, Jordan succeeded.
I did get a little miffed with some of the characters we might have supposed to like, though, especially Jacinda's mother. She wouldn't explain anything to Jacinda, which would have made everything a lot easier (Jacinda is actually the same way, but I wasn't annoyed by that for some reason; I think it was probably because I liked her better). Granted, she is her mother and wants the best for her, and this is something Jacinda understands. But when her mother finally does let it all out, she is quite nasty about it. She's nasty through a lot of the book, actually, and as a result she never won me over. Tamra can also be nasty, but I am much more sympathetic to her situation of always being in Jacinda's shadow.
What really bugged me about this was some of the writing. A huge percentage of the sentences were fragments, and this threw me off a lot, forcing me to go back and reread a couple of sentences to understand the meaning. This is something that happens consistently throughout the book, and it was just frustrating. The short sentences work for the action scenes, but not for everything else.
Though the premise is unique, I did find that the romantic aspect was a little too familiar for me. I kept being reminded of Twilight and other love triangle books I've read, so this didn't stand out to me as much as I think it could have. That said, Jordan took an overused storyline and managed to do something slightly new with it. It's different enough to stand out in the quagmire of ever-increasing paranormal romance for teens, with the added bonus of a pretty strong and likable heroine.
Oh, by the way, it ends on a cliffhanger that will definitely make you want to find out what happens. Just to warn you.