Author: Sophie Jordan
Review: The life that Jacinda left behind to be with the love of her life, Will, has fallen apart. Left and right, the dragon shifters seem to be battling against their enemies, the hunters, without the proper resources to live. When Jacinda chose to renounce her intended future husband Cassian, she had no idea that his sister would end up being kidnapped by the hunters that the draki have hidden from in the mists for centuries. It’s not enough that Jacinda’s life has been in an uproar. The weight of Miram’s life and Cassian’s sorrow threaten to drown her unless she works to save Miram and return her to the draki community, even if Jacinda herself is not so welcome after falling in love with an outsider.
Breaking into the compound where Miram is kept leads to a lot more complications than Jacinda, Will, and Cassian anticipated – not that any of them expected it to be simple. The group that captured Miram is a lot bigger, and a lot deadlier, than expected. Draki are imprisoned in their manifested forms, occasionally pitted against each other to see if they can survive. They’re kept in cells like kenneled dogs with no hope of escape. Jacinda goes in undercover to find a way to break Miram out. In the process, Jacinda learns of another Draki that has gone a long time without manifesting, a Draki that has supposedly lost all of its humanity. A beast.
War between Draki and hunter is coming to a head. Even with Jacinda working with the love of her life and the boy that represents everything she scorned to make that love possible, it may be too late to save the Draki as a whole from being captured. Miram may get saved, but the hunters have their sights set on much more than a singular Draki. The prospect of an entire colony – at least Jacinda, the only fire breather known to exist – is much more enticing to the hunters. It will take everything the group of teenagers has to save the day, and even that may not be enough with the power and technology at the hunters’ disposal. Life itself is on the line for Jacinda, and her romance and teamwork may not have the strength to save everything this time.
Yes, readers, our time with Jacinda and her friends has come to a close. To say this book had me emotionally all over the place is an understatement. For all of the faults in this series, I really do think Sophie Jordan has a knack for writing something compelling, and I will deeply miss the world of the Draki because of the great world that the story presents. Hidden picks up right where the second book, Vanish, left off, and it starts at high speed and never seems to leave. I’m usually wary of books like this because I forget a lot between readings, especially when the books come out a year apart from each other. How can one reader keep all of that information stored away? I have no idea. Jordan managed to keep the confusion to a minimum and did a great job of keeping me updated without actually feeling like she info-dumped anything from the previous two books. Hidden is a culmination of this author’s first attempt at a YA series, too, and I think it shows in the progression of the writing and plotting quality. Sure, Jacinda shines as a main character, but Hidden really showcases the fact that Sophie Jordan has created a living and breathing world populated by many more characters than gorgeous, conflicted Jacinda.
Where readers have sympathized with Jacinda over these books is the situation of her romance and her unhappiness in the Draki community. We’ve seen her fall in love with a boy she shouldn’t (because he’s from a family of dragon hunters – go figure) and we’ve seen her feel empathy towards a boy who has a vein of Draki-misogyny running through his veins (Cassian) despite never wanting to return home. We’ve seen how Jacinda has basically been used by the Draki community in its cultural stigmas, how her abilities made her seem like someone worth breeding and protecting as opposed to leading directly. As a result, Jacinda started out ignorant and vaguely TSTL. Her sheltered past was very prescient in the first book; Vanish saw her looking more at what her life was like before she left the Draki community with her mother and sister, and it also allowed her to gain perspective as to how she acted – and reacted – throughout the two narratives. Hidden is Jacinda’s kick-butt moment. It’s a moment where she proves to all of the readers of this series that she can be aware of her faults and think ahead, a moment where Jacinda shows the culmination of three books worth of growth, love, hardship, and determination. I loved Jacinda in this book because I really felt like she grew as a character in ways that I never anticipated. With how conflicted I was about her in the first book, I give Jordan props for turning Jacinda’s character around for me and making me realize why I liked her from the beginning despite my many issues with her initial actions in the first two books. Jordan also uses Jacinda’s more thoughtful approach to saving the world repeatedly, and I think Jacinda’s character becomes empowering as a result of that. She’s the kind of character that makes it clear that anyone can recover from being TSTL and go on to do something extraordinary and worthy of praise. At the end of this book, I wanted another book – maybe two; or three; or four – with Jacinda and these other characters. I feel like there’s so much left in her story to tell. Readers will go away from this book very satisfied with her character arc, and that’s a huge step forward for this series as a whole.
Can I just say that I’m damn happy that the love triangle in this series is over? This was one case where I was totally happy to never see conflicting love interests again – not because Will and Cassian are bad characters, but because I think it was all too obvious as to which was right for Jacinda. Will is predominately his heroic, kind self in this book, but he also has moments of frustration. There’s a bit of a struggle between him and Jacinda while they fight for their lives, and I liked that the conflict was a little there without being the main plot point of this story. Jordan is more focused on these characters surviving and saving the day. I’m totally okay with that, and this is the first book in the series that really balances everything well. Cassian is still kind of a douchey, but he was made three-dimensional in Vanishand manages to stay that way in Hidden. Team Cassian readers will probably wish that he would sweep Jacinda off of her feet, but his douche ways are not completely obliterated in this book. I think he was just all the more tolerable because of the way the romance was balanced this time around. Had this book been more focused on the love triangle, I would have probably hated him more. Kudos to Jordan for making me learn to tolerate his character, even if I never once believed he and Jacinda would get together throughout the series. I think the stars of the secondary cast are Tamra (Jacinda’s sister who can create mist) and another Draki that comes in later. Let’s say the romance is, well, really awesome. I was surprised at how quickly I fell for Jordan’s portrayal of falling in love with the secondary characters. Her romance roots are really strong in that subplot, and I think it works well with the story since Jacinda’s romantic arc doesn’t have as far to go in Hidden as it did in the first two books.
Readers have generally loved this series because the writing is emotionally engaging and details the angstiness of the romantic issues. It got in the way for me some during the first two books, and I think Hidden does a good job of getting it out of the way fairly early. Jacinda is still emotionally focused in her narration at some points, but there’s a lot more going on that she pays attention to. Saving the lives of many people kind of shifts character priorities, and Jordan did that well this time around. I think the writing has improved in general because of that focus, the concise nature of the story proving that Jordan really can make a plot worthy of this awesome dragon-shifter premise. My one caveat with Hidden in comparison to the other books is that the wrap-up is less than fulfilling. It feels a little too quick, less climactic than one would expect with the emotional strength of this series. A lot of that has to do with the way the romance ended, but I think the plot in general built up to something a little more action-packed than what occurred. I found myself wishing that Jordan had written a little more. Still, I think the story ended well and thoughtfully, just enough sentimentality in the final scene to make readers fell happy without going overboard. I think Jordan has left a world brimming with possibility, and my only regret as a reader is in not being able to read more in the world. There is a novella, Breathless, that comes after Hidden and features different characters, but it’s not the same as a full book or two. On one hand, I’m super excited that Jordan took the potential this world had and really used it in this book…but now I’m sad that readers won’t get to see more of the world working at this full potential. Definitely a bittersweet series ending, but one done with thoughtfulness on the author’s part. I was really sad to see it end.
A finale like Hidden is one worth reading. The Firelight series improved with each book, and I think Jordan has ended things in a way that shows that her authorial improvement was well-founded. I loved all of the characters (save for Cassian) and the plot, though I would have liked more of an oomph in the climax of the narrative. Everything about this book’s construction has me excited to see what Jordan will do in the future as an author of YA and NA. A part of me will always hope for a return to the world of the Draki. Hidden is well worth the reading time; YA readers that love emotional paranormal romance really should pick up this series. Its denouement couldn’t have been better.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk
Also see: Firelight by Sophie Jordan