The Writer's View - Firelight by Sofia Jordan
From Goodreads: 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 awayif 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.
The Writer's View
This is, without a doubt, a Twilight-esque YA paranormal romance. Admittedly, this isn't my cup of tea. And while the romance-centric plot didn't really do it for me, there were several things that made this a very riveting read.
Creating non-humans that feel non-human
What drew me to this book was the concept of the draki, human shifters who change into dragons. Seriously, how cool is that? (We sadly did not get to spend any time in the draki community and experience their full culture, but maybe that will happen more in the second book.) I really loved how vividly Jordan painted her non-human MC, Jacinda. I really felt what it was like to have wings that constantly want to push their their way free from their human body; what it was like to have skin flick back and forth between human and draki; and what it was like to have a wild animal inside that can't always be controlled. There are a lot of books that feature non-humans who feel like humans, but this is definitely not one of them. Hats off to Jordan for creating such a three-dimensional, unique shifter.
Show no mercy to your protag
I read an excellent article by J.W. Alden entitled Ruthless Writing: Make Your Characters Hate You. The heart of the article is this: if you're too nice to your characters, your story will be boring and no one will want to read it.
Well, let me tell you, I am not sure I have ever met a character with more bad options than Jacinda. I felt so bad for this girl, and I could not stop reading because I just wanted to know how the heck she was going to find happiness. Here's a summary of her options: 1) Arranged marriage with the draki prince and perhaps a forced wing-clipping; 2) Fall in love with Will, a known hunter of draki. Will's an entire family would slaughter Jacinda in a heartbeat if they knew her true identity; 3) Let her inner draki die and become a real human, thus killing a part of herself in the process but ultimately finding safety from both hunters and draki.
You see what I mean? Poor Jacinda had crap waiting for her every direction she turned. I just love how this enabled me to sympathize with her, and how it made me want to keep reading.
If you like Twilight-esque romance, you will definitely like this book. Even if you're not into that genre (like me), I still think this book has a lot going for it.