From the dust jacket: “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.”
I really enjoyed this novel. I was intrigued from the beginning by the idea of draki existing alongside the human world as shape shifters. I love the paranormal, and while I’ve seen a few movies about dragons, this is my first YA novel about them. I’ve noticed that a few readers have dismissed the draki’s ability, stating that it is too similar to werewolf stories, and the like. I disagree. I actually find it refreshing. The draki do not wander around unknown to the human world, wreaking havoc. Instead, they are hunted by a group of people, albeit a small group of people, who are attempting to use them for their powers and skills; the draki are worth a lot of money dead. I don’t see that cropping up in werewolf stories, or shape shifter stories, etc. And, of course a small society trying to protect themselves are going to have a pecking order; how else would they survive and stay hidden without leaders and rules to abide by? Honestly, I think that Jordan took a great idea and soared with it. Are parts of the novel going to seem generic? Of course! People have been writing since the beginning of time, and there are many thousands of books already circulating, but Jordan made this story her own, using her unique voice, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I immensely enjoyed the characters in this novel. Jordan did a great job zeroing in on how teenagers think, and how they handle situations. Whereas adults may think things through (or so we hope), teenagers tend to be a little more self absorbed, acting on impulse more often than not. These aspects crop up all over the novel, and while I’m saying to myself, “no, don’t do that!” I know that I would be doing the same thing, and be feeling the same way as the characters, if I was still a teenager. The plights of Jacinda and Will, even Tamra and Cassian, all have a resounding truth to them. While teenagers today aren’t necessarily worrying about transforming into a draki, they do worry about bringing shame to their families, or irreparable fights with their siblings. Teens do have to deal with the death of loved ones, and decide who to date, who to be friends with, who can be trusted with secrets, who can’t be… and these are all situations that are conveyed within the novel. As an adult, I’ve already experiences all of that, but the teens I work with are still dealing with these issues. Jordan captured the teenage mind beautifully throughout the novel, especially when it comes to the impossible choices of love and loss.
I will admit that I did have a hard time imagining what the draki looked like, though. Jacinda describes herself as using her hands when in draki form, and I’m trying to imagine a dragon with hands… and falling flat. I just can’t do it. Before Jacinda explained that she was a descendant of dragons, and not a dragon herself, I had pictured dragons, of course! Now, I’m not so sure what to think. I also am wondering about the size of these creatures, since Jacinda states that, even in her draki form, the human form of Cassian and the pride tower over her. So, I was a little confused. However, my lack of imagination did not, in any way, ruin the novel for me. And, while I did feel like some of the writing was disconnected, leaving me with questions, I know this is the first novel in a series. Jordan is setting the stage for the rest of the series to unfold. That being said, I cannot wait for Vanish to hit bookshelves in September. I’m going to be the first in line! Four stars!