Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)'s Reviews > Firelight

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
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's review
Nov 20, 2010

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bookshelves: young-adult, romantic-fantasy, part-of-a-series
Read from November 19 to 20, 2010

2.5 stars
I've got mixed emotions about this book. On the one hand, I've got to give Sophie Jordan credit for creating a unique twist on the shapeshifting storyline. After all, over the years we've had numerous tales of people shifting into wolves and other canines, sundry varieties of felines, snakes, bears, birds, and even frogs, but someone who shifts from human to dragon, or dragon-like, is unusual. However, the creativity gets lost in a melodramatic story and an unsympathetic protagonist.

As far as the melodrama, that can be explained by the fact that the story revolves around teenagers, who are notorious scenery-chewers. After all, I believe it's some sort of law that once puberty hits and your hormones go into overdrive, all sense of proportion flies out the window. So while our protagonist, Jacinda, occasionally makes a valid point about how her life has been disrupted, she does it in such a "woe-is-me" way that at times all I want to do it shake the shit out of her and tell her to grow up. That said, I also want to smack her "nobody-understands-me" twin sister, Tamra, and tell her the same thing. (Yes, I'm a violent person; whiny people bring out my inner Mr. T.)

Don't get me wrong, I sympathize with both the characters. After all, Jacinda has been taken away from the home she loves, by her own mother ("for her protection"), and told that she has to let the dragon part of her die, no questions asked, no compromise, "for her own good." Basically she's been given the same sort of dictates her mother's trying to rescue her from (how's that for irony?). And Tamra, who is fully human, with no draki blood, is ecstatic that she'll be able to attend high school and hang out with friends, in other words be completely normal and fit in instead of being the one who is shunned and looked at with pity because she doesn't fit in, because she's not draki. I get their pain, I really do. The biggest peeve I have about this situation is that neither one of them sit down with their mother or each other and simply explain how they feel to the other person. Now, I admit, I'm weird: I've always had an excellent relationship with my mother, even through my teen years. When I had a problem, I went to her to talk it out. I never felt I had to hide anything from her or that she wouldn't understand my situation. Which is why I can't understand why Jacinda, who suffers the most in my opinion, can't just sit down with her mom and say, "Hey, you know what? It's killing me that my draki is withering away. I know you and Tamra don't want to go back to the pride, but can we find a compromise where you can be happy and I can let my draki live?" Simple. But I guess that would interfere with the teen drama.

So not only is Jacinda a drama queen, she's also a wimp. There are several legitimate occasions for her to stand up for herself, to clear up a misunderstanding, to use some of her drama to her benefit, but does she? Noooo, of course not. Why would she? Who likes a girl who has confidence and knows how (and when) to use it?

Speaking of which brings us to the romance in the book. Jacinda has fallen for Will, who is a hunter of draki and has a magnetic attraction to her. She is also drawn to him, yet whenever she gets close to him, her inner dragon comes to life and threatens to burst out of her. Which would be a really big no-no. Okay, I get that. I also get her determination to stay away from him because of that fact. However, Jacinda then proceeds to fall into the well-worn role of 'tease': "No, stay away from me, Will! I can't tell you why, just that I can't be with you. Okay, one kiss can't hurt"--rip goes her shirt and out pop her wings--"Crap, get away from me! Don't ever come near me again. But I can't resist you, there's just something about you. I suppose another, tonsil-sucking kiss won't hurt"--pop goes the cartilage in her nose as her face takes on its draki form--"No, we must never see each other again and to prove that I mean it, I'm going to insult you and tear up any note you pass to me! Aw, you drove up to my house at 1 o'clock in the morning just to see where I live! How can I resist?" And on and on, ad nauseam. Which brings up another ever-present theme in recent YA romance: stalking equals romance. Will climbs through her window, breaks into her house to cook her breakfast, and conned a school official out of Jacinda's address the very first day she arrived. While his actions aren't nearly as scary as many other "romantic" leads of recent publications, they're still not something I'd hold up as rational behavior, even if we are talking about a teenage boy, who has as much familiarity with rational thought as they do with personal hygiene.

The book ends on a cliff-hanger, a quite obvious set-up for a sequel, and I'll admit I'm curious enough to want to read it when it's released (or sometime afterward). However, I really, really hope that some of these irritants will be ironed out of the story the next go 'round. As much as I hate to say this, this book brought me to the realization that, even though I believe that the YA genre has some of the most original writing talent out there, I may be getting too old for it. Then again, I've found that these issues (the female protagonist is a tease and a wimp, the male romantic lead stalks the protagonist and she's happy about it, the darkly pervasive theme of possession--"You're mine because you're destined to be mine") aren't limited to the YA genre. Maybe that's what I'm too old for: I'm too old to waste my time on such mindless concepts. Which is a shame, because such creativity shouldn't be wasted on lackluster clichés.

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11/19/2010 page 54

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