Release Date: September 6th, 2011
(I got my ARC from the RT Convention.)
[Yes, this review is super early. I couldn't help it. I really wanted to read it and get you all psyched out for this awesome sequel.]
Published by: Harper
Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan
To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.
Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?
In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.
If you haven't read Firelight, you may not want to continue reading this review. Also, if you haven't read it, you may not understand the world of the draki as explored in Vanish.
1. (+) Jacinda, the protagonist - In the draki world, Jacinda is the girl who is objectified not (quite) for her sexuality but more for her ability and what that could mean if she had children. Immediately this puts me on her side. The looks she gets from her pride, her home are disgusting; instead of liking her for her, they only see the outside and her breeding potential. The elders and everybody else also always talk about doing what's good for the pride... so naturally Jacinda rebels against that and thinks about what it'd be like for her to be happy. The fact that it's a tad selfish of her doesn't even off-set me from liking her character because she's in an impossible situation. She's also strong and her fire-breathing abilities are a reflection of her character. All in all, she's a wonderful female protagonist.
2. (+) The Planning - It occurred to me how appropriate the planning has been of this series. First we explored a bit of the pride but more so of the hunter world. In Vanish, we now explored the pride in full, experiencing the cruelty of a home that Jacinda had never realized existed. And because of the ending, the next world that will be explored also becomes obvious. It's nice to have this sort of synchrony and to have a fantasy world so large and ripe with potential that each book could be exploring different aspects of it.
3. (+) The World Building - And as I mentioned above, you really do learn more about what it means to be a draki. The classes [Evasive Techniques!], the community, the responsibilities [library vs. gutting food], the abilities of other draki besides Jacinda and Cassian [visiocrypters!]. Sophie Jordan's descriptions of flying are also spot-on.
4. (+) The Writing - Throughout the book, the writing is fluid. One scene in particular stands out to me: it's when Jacinda faces the horrific consequences of something she (and another) did. [Yes, very specific, I know. I don't want to spoil anything, though]. The point is -- in this moment, Jacinda is terrified and as a reader, I was there with her every step of the way. Why? Because of Sophie Jordan's writing. It's a torturous moment that lasts for pages even though little actually happens. Here, Ms. Jordan prolongs the tension and makes it come alive while still keeping the pacing fast. I can't really describe it that well, only can say that she really captured Jacinda's panic and that when you read the scene, you will know what I mean. And you will see that the writing is brilliant.
5. (+) The Romance - Even though I don't like love triangles, I find this one acceptable because even with all the obstacles thrust at them, you still know who Jacinda loves, and the scenes that are there shine just as much as they did in the first book. Though her romance with Will isn't as desperate--or at least desperate in the same sense since she's no longer saving her draki; she's just savoring their few moments together--as before, her romance with Cassian sort of is. There's a lot less Will in this book than Cassian as compared to Firelight, but I still want more Cassian though. Right now, I still don't quite understand Cassian's attraction to Jacinda... Based on where Firelight starts off, we don't really see their interactions. So I wonder how is it that he came to like her for her versus liking her for her power like everyone else? Even in this book, his attraction to her is because of what he said to her in the last one about her interesting him but now showing us how he got there. But because of the stakes laid down in this book, I have a feeling their romance will be more developed and this issue potentially? will be solved in the next book. Regardless of all this, Cassian redeems himself in this book; I know that when I first read Firelight, I thought he was too possessive and a tad spoiled on authority... but he's better in Vanish, and in conclusion, the romance that blossoms between him and Jacinda and the scenes with Will and Jacinda are all written well.
6. (+) Cast of Characters - Tamra & Jacinda's mom grow a lot as characters. There are also few new characters (exception: obnoxious Corbin) so the ones that are important to us, that we will continue to see in this series [i.e. Will, Cassian] get developed more while the others remain in their established roles [Severin,.
7. (+) The Opposition - I don't say the villain because there are multiple, and they're all big threats to Jacinda. There's the pride itself -- its alpha, Severin, and the elders. I think what makes them compelling as villains is that if you step back for a moment, you see that they have this misguided notion of what the pride means and how to handle the affairs. The barbaric cruelty of certain things smarts, but Sophie Jordan nails the male domination aspect of the pride. The same goes for the hunters, who aren't far away either. They are all the testosterone-filled "opposition" and make you want to root for the Jacinda-Tamra-Jacinda's Mom team.
8. (+) The Pacing - I didn't put the book down. It's pretty easy to get caught up in Jacinda's world. I don't think there was a single time I thought the book dragged. I thought it was amazing how much came out of the last book's cliff-hanger ending... or at least consequence wise.
9. (--) Sacrifice - By this, I mean that I feel like Jacinda still has a long way to go character development wise [even though I like her as a character].... in that while others have made such great sacrifices for her, has she done anything to deserve it/in return? I get the feeling that the next book will have more of this, and I am grateful. The only sacrifice I can think of that she's made was when she jumped after Will in Firelight, but I always saw that as being more representative of her love for Will than her maturity.
10. (+) The Cover - Honestly it wasn't the cover of Firelight that drew me to it... and for this novel, they continue the trend started by Firelight (showcasing a draki girl's face), and I can guess who will be featured on the next cover. So knowing that this a theme is a bonus for the covers match. It's also pretty and does represent a significant change in the book so all in all, I like the cover this time around.
This was definitely not a disappointing sequel. Fans of Firelight will most certainly enjoy Vanish given that Sophie Jordan amps up the stakes with an even more heated love triangle and forces from all sides pressuring Jacinda to choose what matters most.
This is my sixth review in the #30books30days challenge. I'm out of order & behind, but you can look at my original reading/review plan here.