November 5, 2010

Firelight: Review

Goodreads' description:

"With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret."

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I'd heard quite a lot of buzz about Firelight going into it, so I was expecting to enjoy it; unfortunately it didn't quite live up to the hype in my opinion. I have the feeling I might have enjoyed this one more when I was younger and I wasn't thinking quite so critically about the books I read. I'm going into detail here about what I did and didn't like, so get comfy, this will be a long review.


Jacinda: I liked Jacinda at the very beginning, when she's comfortable in her draki skin and not trying to pretend to be just an ordinary human. Her friendship with Az was nice to see and she seemed really at home there in the mountains with her draki pride.

Soon after her whole family takes off to live in a desert, where Jacinda's draki side is slowly being starved away, she began to start irritating me. For one thing, she was very angsty. Now, a little angst I can take — after all, this is a YA novel, we were all teenagers once, we were all angsty once. It comes with the territory. But Jacinda didn't seem to have any other setting; if she wasn't being melodramatic about her mother wanting the draki part of her to die, she was bemoaning her fate of being attracted to the hunter Will. Okay, I understand that she was in a tight spot — if she wanted to please her mother and sister, she had to let go of who she truly was, and if she wanted to return to her pride, she would alienate her family and risk becoming a pawn. It wasn't an easy situation to deal with, but Jacinda repeated all her worries about her problems so often I got sick of them and my sympathy for her decreased.

Also, Jacinda's indecisiveness frustrated me. She kept flip-flopping back and forth between choices so often I wanted to say, "I don't care what it is, just pick something and stick with it!" She'd tell herself to stay away from Will, then she'd end up kissing him. She'd vow never to return to the pride, then she'd change her mind and realize that actually, that was what she had to do. I wanted her to have a little more conviction in her decisions.

Will: Will was a much easier character to like. He opens himself up to Jacinda emotionally —an unusual but attractive trait in a guy — and makes himself vulnerable in that way. Jacinda could learn a thing or two from him. He doesn't disguise his attraction to her, and he doesn't fight it as much as she appears to fight hers (although, of course, she realizes more about the "doomed" nature of their relationship than he does.) Although, I did want to give the guy some Blistex because he always seemed to have really dry lips. And one more thing about him that's a spoiler, highlight to read: he takes the fact that she's a draki very, very well. I thought it was a bit unrealistic that he gets over it so fast and just wants to start kissing her again. You'd think he'd be a little more fazed about the whole thing.

I am a bit of a sucker for star-crossed lovers so I liked the whole forbidden hunter/draki dynamic. There were a couple elements that reminded me of Twilight and/or typical YA paranormals: Will had the whole "I'm bad for you but I just can't stay away" thing going on, Jacinda had the "I really should stay away from him, this isn't going to work, but whoops I just kissed him again" thing going on, and the introduction scene in the study hall was somewhat Twilight-esque. The initial attraction between them is well-done, with their chemistry sizzling (literally), but once they actually declare themselves the romance tends toward slightly too sweet and cheesy.

Cassian: Cassian was another character I liked, because he isn't wholly good or wholly bad. He's ambiguous and intriguing. If there was something I didn't like about Will, it was perhaps that he was just too sweet — well, Cassian doesn't have that problem. He's draki through and through and you can tell. He's used to having people obey him, but I got the impression that he really does care about Jacinda in his way, and I think he would try to make it work between them. I'm wondering if there will be a love triangle here?

Side characters: I did think a couple of the side characters were flat and stereotyped, in particular the mean cheerleader and the best friend sidekick who is really only there so Jacinda has at least *one* friend in her new school (besides Will, of course). I felt sorry for Catherine because she spends most of the book just propping Jacinda up and making her feel better when she's angsty about Will (which, let’s face it, was often). Poor Catherine seems to have no life of her own that we see.


The first half of the book is quite slow-moving after Jacinda's family moves to a new place. Basically, it's just Jacinda settling into a new routine, getting to know Will, and worrying about her draki side dying. The action does pick up a little partway through as other characters start to figure out that Jacinda isn't quite what she seems. I wasn't super impressed with the climactic scene, partly because I thought it was a bit slapstick, and Will seemed to be acting a little out of character. (Spoiler: in particular, when he launches himself at Cassian and the two of them start fighting, I was going, "Um, Will, you're smarter than that! Cassian's huge and he's a draki. What are you thinking?" Will always appeared quite sensitive with Jacinda, so it was weird to see him suddenly start acting super macho and aggressive.).


In my opinion, this is the area that Jordan really shone. I appreciated all the thought she'd put into the draki race and the way she made it work with the traditional dragon lore. The draki connection to the earth, Jacinda's abhorrence of being in a crowded room, their tendency to "hoard" gems and the reason behind it...everything made perfect sense. It was fantastic. This is really what I enjoyed the most in Firelight and what I hope I will see in the sequel. I would have loved more worldbuilding involving the draki pride —for instance, how the pride operates, who the enkros are and what they do, and how the draki fit into the world in general. How is it that the hunters know about them but no one else does? I was really happy about the ending (spoiler: Jacinda goes back to the pride with Cassian) and how it sets up for the next in the series, because I'm hoping this means we'll get to see more of the draki and how that whole system works.

Writing style: 

I noticed the author has a tendency to write several short sentences or sentence fragments in a row. This can be done to effect if used sparingly, but it happens quite frequently in Firelight and tended to interrupt the flow of reading. Also, it really highlighted Jacinda's dramatics, unfortunately.

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. I like the concept behind this book, but the execution wasn't everything I'd hoped for. Firelight feels more like it just sets up the rest of the series, which I am hoping demonstrate some character development and more about the draki pride. I'll probably read the next book at some point, but I won't be rushing out to buy it.


  1. Sorry to hear it didn't live up to your expectations. I haven't read it yet so I really appreciate your honesty. I definitely plan on picking it up from the library first before I decide if I like it for myself. Thanks!

  2. I love this review. I haven't read the book - so I can't say how I felt, but it will probably be similar to you (when I read it).

    I always think books like this get hyped up way too much. either that or, a lot of the YA blogosphere will overlook a lot b/c the book features some hot hot scenes somewhere in there.

    anyway, love that you review outside of that - makes me far more likely to value your thoughts.

    not sure if i will read this one - lots of reviews have made me feel tempted but i generally love contemp stuff better anyway.


  3. I like how all your reviews seem to be very honest. You give reasons why you do and don't like the book. Love it.

  4. Yes! I totally agree. I was so looking forward to this one and I agree, Will was nice, but he was a little *too* perfect, especially once they finally got together. Jacinda annoyed me a lot. I like how you said you didn't care what she did you just wanted her to make a decision and stick with it.

    I really liked Cassian and the draki mythology too. I hope we see a lot more of them in the sequel. I also hope to see a love triangle develop, because at this point I'd definitely be on team Cassian.


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