Just finished reading Vanish by Sophie Jordan which takes up right where Firelight left off. I enjoyed Firelight, I thought the Drakis were really good to read about but, surprisingly (because 2nd novels sometimes suffer) I thought this book was better. There was plenty of action and it kicks in virtually immediately with a tense scene that ends with a revelation (in more ways than one as this revelation actually clears up the book cover as well – one of those ‘ah, I see’ moments). (And that’s just the first few pages).
This review may contain spoilers for Firelight so don’t read it – unless of course you want to read spoilers!
In Vanish Jacinda, Tamra and her mother return to their pride and village with Cassian. Jacinda’s return of course is surrounded by deep distrust and her fellow villagers treat her with either cool indifference or downright dislike. She is very unhappy, not only has she left Will behind, but returning to her home – which is something she wanted so very much at the beginning of the first book – no longer brings the comfort she once felt. She has lost her status in the pride, her best friend isn’t speaking to her and also she has gained a creepy stalker in Cassian’s cousin Corbin. I did feel sorry for her to an extent and sometimes wanted her to speak up for herself a bit more and defend her actions.
By a strange twist Will manages to find Jacinda’s village – which is a potentially very dangerous moment for them both and Jacinda manages to engineer a chance to talk with him alone – and this is really the start of her problems – but I’m not going to elaborate too much on the rest of the plot. Basically as the story unfolds – another draki is captured by the hunters (Will’s relations) – to be honest this isn’t totally Jacinda’s fault but she does feel guilty. After this the plot twists and turns a bit before finally setting the scene for No.3 – this is going to feel like a long wait!
Now, I did really like this book but that doesn’t mean I was always happy. Jacinda got on my last nerve at times – in the first book I read a number of reviews from people who thought she was selfish but I never really saw her as such, but, in this book, frankly, yes, she comes across as selfish, very selfish in fact sometimes, self-centred, indecisive and on the odd occasion annoyingly dense! The thing is, after all that, I don’t dislike her and I do understand that she’s a teenager and has the whole ‘angst’ thing going on – not to mention an outdated, chauvinistic and dictating pack to deal with – but sometimes I thought she could have displayed a bit more sensitivity!
Then we have the Will/Cassian thing going on – I’m not really a big fan of love triangles and in this case it’s made even worse by the fact that not only do Will and Cassian both want Jacinda but her sister Tamra has got a big time ‘thing’ for Cassian. Oh, the trauma of it all. I had mixed feelings, I never really felt the whole ‘Will’ thing (but I realise I’m in a minority there!) , I mean I like him, but I think I could take it or leave it, plus, I thought Cassian came across a lot better in this book. But at the end of the day I think there is no choice and the decision is already made. At least I think it’s obvious!!
What I really liked about this book is the way it makes you think about different things – like Jacinda wants to be liked for herself and not her star draki qualities – so even though this is a book based on myths the messages are relevant, after all, everybody wants to be liked for themselves – if you’re famous you don’t want somebody to ‘want’ you because you’re famous, or ditto rich people, etc, etc. And Jacinda is never sure with her pack if they just like her because she is so unique.
Also, I liked the whole pack dynamic and village and the way that this was explored a lot more in this book. It reminds me of a tiny little village trapped in time, hidden away from the world and oblivious to modern life (a Brigadoon if you will). And, it’s a bit sad reading about it all, because the pack is getting smaller and is in danger of becoming extinct – a bit like a remote village where all the younger people move away. But, the thing is the elders are so very old fashioned and harsh – they definitely need to chill out a bit if they don’t want to push all their younger people away!
And, I liked the writing style which flows really well, lovely descriptions and so thought provoking with the ability to play with your emotions.
On the whole a very enjoyable read and I would have no hesitation in recommending – in fact if you love Firelight you simply have to read it!
Firelight tells the story of Jacinda, a female draki. The drakis are descendants from dragons who have the ability to take human form. Over the years the drakis have lost some of their abilities and in fact some of them never manifest into draki form at all (for example Jacinda’s sister Tamra). Jacinda, however, has become the main centre of attention for her pride and they are pinning all their hopes on her because she is the first draki for hundreds of years who can breathe fire. As such Jacinda has been chosen to marry the alpha males son Cassian in order to breed more fire breathers. After breaking one of the pride’s firm rules about flying in daylight Jacinda and her mother and sister are forced to run away from their home to avoid reprisals.
I thought this was a very enjoyable and entertaining read, well written and based on an intriguing idea. I liked the idea of the dragons and in my own mind didn’t picture them as the dragons of old but much more ‘human’ looking. The draki have done a magnificent job of hiding their existence and this is probably the reason why they are losing some of their abilities as the need for protection is no longer as strong.
I liked the way that in running from their pride the family’s ‘position’ in society was completely reversed. Whilst living amongst the pride Jacinda was prized above all others – a position that she didn’t relish – and her mother and sister were treated with disdain yet once they start living amongst the humans Tamra is instantly popular at school while Jacinda takes a more subdued role. I felt sorry for Jacinda to a certain degree. She definitely has an unenviable positon. Living amongst her own kind she is held in awe but all decisions are made for her and living amongst humans the position remains much the same. Jacinda doesn’t enjoy living in her human form and is unhappy about letting her inner Draki die – I guess it would be easy to blame Jacinda herself for the positon that she is in because her own disregard for the rules have landed her there – but really this is much the same as any other teenager flaunting the rules. Apparently, breaking the rules is something that all teenagers have in common – with or without supernatural powers!
I also liked the romance element to the story and the fact that there are still secrets to be revealed. Frankly I think there is more to Will than meets the eye – maybe even something that he’s not totally aware of himself – and I’m not buying into the ‘he was sick’ element. I think there is another reason why he is such a good tracker and why he and Jacinda felt an instant attraction to each other but I suppose time (and the next novel in the series) will tell us more. Will and Jacinda’s relationship was well paced and gripping and I look forward to reading more in the next novel – not to mention finding out more about Cassian and whether or not he will try to help Jacinda (I know he comes across as a bit domineering – not to mention something of a stalker – but I still think he could turn out okay)!!
I suppose my only criticisms would be I don’t really understand the whole ‘hunter’ element to the story – but perhaps that will be explained more fully in the future. I don’t see how we have these creatures that nobody knows about at all – except a whole pack of other humans who hunt them. The element for secrecy becomes a bit stretched when you have full families of hunters – surely there would be slips, cats out of bags, etc, (I understand that to let everyone know about the existence of drakis would not be a good thing for the hunters because many more people would probably hunt them. I just don’t think it would be possible to keep it quite this secret). And the only other thing I would mention is that given the whole need for secrecy I was totally gobsmacked by Jacinda’s actions in the final scenes – what was she thinking!! I know she’s a teenager, and in love, but, hello, try to remember where you are and in whose company! Anyway, don’t really want to give any more of that away.
I would totally recommend reading Firelight – it was a fantastic bit of escapism, mytholody, adventure and romance all rolled up together. I’m looking forward to the next book – although there’s a bit of a wait!!