VANISH (Firelight #2)
Paranormal Young Adult
Available September 6th
Received for review through Teen Book Scene
Warning: Synopsis contains spoilers from FIRELIGHT, but review is spoiler free.
Jacinda risked the safety of all her draki brethren when she revealed her true form to Will and his Hunter family. Now they know one of the draki's most fiercely guarded secrets: draki can shift into human form. Luckily for Jacinda, another draki is able to use her abilities to wipe all the Hunter minds clean of what they saw, including Will's. With his mind shaded, he'll think she's just vanished without a trace since Cassian is dragging her back to the pride.
Once home again, Jacinda finds herself an outcast. News of her reveal to the Hunters and her love for Will earns her hateful glances and whispered insults from those she used to count as friends. One of the few willing to speak to her is Cassian, proving himself to be understanding of her situation while making it known that his feelings for her haven't changed.
Though Jacinda tries to put Will behind her and focus on her future in the pride, thoughts of him refuse to stay buried, and when he shows up looking for her she knows with absolutely certainty that her place is with him. Will's family draws ever closer to the pride however, and when things go wrong for her yet again, she vows to set it right no matter the cost.
While Firelight detailed Jacinda being snatched from her home and forced into the sweltering isolation of the desert only to find a true sense of belonging and love, Vanish sees her returned home again more alone than she was being the single draki in a vast barren landscape. Only by experiencing the freedom Jacinda found in Firelight despite having to keep so much of her true self hidden are we able to truly understand the stifling effect her return to the pride has on her. What once was a sanctuary is now a prison, her role as a female draki and a fire-breather permanently etched in stone with little hope that her wants for her life will be taken into account. This startling contrast helps our bond to Jacinda strengthen, her restlessness and heartache echoed in the erratic nature of our breathing as her future presses its weight down on us all until we're as ready as she is to escape the claustrophobia of what her pride deems inevitable.
Jacinda, full of fire and fight in the first book, has that passion for life all but extinguished in the opening chapters, stuck in the purgatory of ignorance as to how profoundly Will is affected by the memory wipe, half-heartedly trying to move on but ultimately unable to do so while certainty and closure continue to elude her. However, the more Severin and the other draki push her to conform to what she's never wanted to be, the more air they breathe on the spark buried underneath her guilt, anger, and pain until she comes roaring back and begins to take responsibility for her thoughts and actions as well as the needs of her heart. By the end, the girl who had been existing in pieces separated by conflicting desires begins to knit herself back together and rebel against those, both Hunter and draki, who would hurt her or those she cares about.
Though Will earned our affection and loyalty in book one, he is relegated to the magnificent shadow cast by Cassian in this tale, and only our lingering memories of his moments with Jacinda in Firelight keep us from throwing our full support behind the sleek black onyx draki making a play for Jacinda's heart. Cassian's deliciously diabolical attack on our emotional attachment to Will is all the more dangerous and effective for its subtlety, his staunch support of her upon her return when she faces nothing but mockery and contempt coupled with his willingness to let her create distance between them as she deems necessary is a powerful weapon. Under the quiet onslaught we quickly find ourselves wondering if it would really be so bad for Jacinda to find a new home with him, one half of a power couple leading the pride together. The new dynamic between the three of them is intensely fascinating, and the few brief moments in which she succumbs to Cassian's strength and genuineness are much more believable and forgivable as she battles with individual want versus societal and species responsibility.
Those who get frustrated with cliffhanger endings will most likely shake their heads in dismay at the conclusion of this story though, the final page ending just as momentous events are about to occur. That being said however, Ms. Jordan not only ratchets up the romantic conflict in a way that emotionally splits us down the middle without once frustrating us at the development of a love triangle, but she also reveals some interesting tidbits with regard to Tamra and Will, making us wish for more page time as we attempt to make peace with the wait for book three. Overall, Vanish is a thoroughly enjoyable sequel despite its whopper of an ending, and things are certainly shaping up to only get darker and more dangerous as Jacinda and company attempt a role reversal with the family of Hunters who have been killing them off slowly.