Saturday, March 3, 2012

Audiobook Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Publisher: HarperTeen/Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: September 7th, 2010 

A hidden truth. 
Mortal enemies. 
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I've been wanting to read this book for a REALLY long time.  When I first heard of it about a year ago, I was like, "Wow! That sounds like it has the potential to be a really kick-ass book!", and then I just never got the time to read it.  When my library got the audio version, I was really excited because now I could "read" it during those hours I spend in the car shuttling kids to and from school, sports, etc. (Yes, I'm the horrible mom who puts ear buds in while driving with her three children, instead of talking to them.  They fight too much and I can't deal...)  So... I got it, put it on my ipod and here we are.

I will start by saying that the audio is very well done.  The narrator, Therese Plummer, is a fantastic reader.  She seamlessly switches tonality and voice when reading dialogue between two characters, so that it almost seems as if it is being read by two different people.  She also puts forth the right emotions, breathing lots of life into the story.  Because of her adaptation, I think I liked it more than I would have if I had read the text version to myself.  That all being said...

I wanted to love this book.  Like I mentioned before, the story has TONS of potential.  A race of creatures (Draki) who descend from dragons who can morph into to human form, each with his or her own special ability?  Hunters who specialize in capturing these creatures, only to sell their parts on the black market?  A female Draki who falls for a hunter? Intriguing, right?  I thought so too, and I had high expectations...  I liked it, but I didn't love it like I thought I would.  The main characters were pretty well rendered, but the supporting ones could have used a bit more development.  I especially would have liked to know more about Jacinda's mom and Will's family. As for plot and pacing, it started out really strong, pulling me in for about the first 20%, then it just kind of fizzled for me.  It did pick up in the end, but there was too long a stretch in the middle that I struggled with.   You see, I really loved Sophie Jordan's account of the land that the Draki inhabit; mountainous, with lakes, and lush, green valleys.  I also loved her physical descriptions of the Draki; they sounded like astoundingly beautiful creatures, and found myself yearning to know more about them.  It was beyond exciting when Jacinda was pursued by hunters and nearly captured, and  I thought this book was going to be a thrill.  She lost me when Jacinda's mom moved the family to a human town, away from their pride, to protect her.  Without the beautiful world and fantastic creatures, it became just another YA Paranormal Romance with a different fantastical being...  They move to a new town, Jacinda meets Will, the unattainable, hot guy who every girl in her new HS drools over, and they are inexplicably drawn to one another, but are trying not to be, each for a different reason.  Sound familiar?  The book goes along in this vein until about the final 15%, and then it picks up; secrets are revealed, the action picks up, and new questions arise.  Will I read the next book in the series, Vanish?  Probably, but I don't feel compelled to rush right out and buy it.

Overall, I have to say that this book was a solid start to the series.  It definitely had a few flaws, but that is to be expected from any author's debut novel.  Although, it isn't my favorite story, it was well written, and I can see why it has legions of fans.  Any fan of of angsty teen love stories like Twilight will love this book.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Grade Level Recommendation:  There's the same types intense feelings of attraction between Will and Jacinda as there are between Edward and Bella (Twilight).  There are a couple of pretty heavy make-out sessions as well, including one where Will spends the night (no sex).  Because of that, I would recommend this be read by ages 12 and up (7th grade+).

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