Talon, by Julie Kagawa

In
a unique take on traditional fantasy dragon stories, Ember Hill and her twin
Dante are young dragons tasked with learning how to be human, and where better
to do that than among the young and beautiful of Southern California?  In Talon,
Kagawa adapts many of the traditional tropes about dragons to create a world in
which they are not simply fantastical, covetous, dangerous monsters, but where
they live among us and infiltrate human civilization itself.

As
wards of their human guardians, Ember and Dante spend the summer surfing and
hanging out with their new friends—teenagers of the beautiful, rich set whose
parents have beach homes and few rules—all the while harboring deep secrets
about their real natures.  While
Dante seems to adapt easily, Ember has more trouble coming to terms with her
double life, and a rebellious spirit that proves irresistible to human and
dragon alike.  Meanwhile, Garrett
is a member of the secret military organization St. George, whose mission is to
find and kill all dragons.  Sparks
fly when Ember and Garrett meet, and each must make difficult choices about
whether to accept the truth as they’ve both been told about their enemies, or
to question authority. 

While
certain aspects of Ember and Dante’s otherness as dragons could have been
better realized, Kagawa has crafted a story with well-rounded, if somewhat
stereotypical characters.  Teens
who like a good forbidden love story will enjoy Kagawa’s rendering of the Romeo
& Juliet trope.  Talon hints at a new interpretation of
many aspects of history and fantasy that is intriguing enough to keep the
reader involved, and the supporting characters in the story help to drive the
plot in a way that feels natural. 
Ember is a compelling character, willing to take chances and fight back,
making for a suspenseful read as the chance that she will assume her true form
and fight tantalizes the reader, and Kawaga has set the story up well for a
sequel.

Readers
looking for a strong female lead and new take on an old story will enjoy Talon. 
Kagawa’s themes of conspiracy and questioning rules will appeal to
many teen readers.  With stories of
surfing and summer fun, Talon makes a
great summer beach read to keep the back-to-school blues at bay.

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