Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

Most unexpectedly, I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Why unexpected? Well, I'm picky about my fantasies, and when I found out a girl had a jewel embedded in her stomach, well, I was skeptical.

I loved Elisa. She changed from a winey, self-centered princess to a smart, brave, and determined queen. And the transformation was very entertaining.

Elisa is chosen, and at her christening, a godstone was placed in her navel. This happens to one person every century. Along with this stone, comes a prophecy that Elisa will be very powerful. She is also to marry Alejandro, King of Joya d'Arena. Her father has promised troops to help fight an inevitable war with the Invierne, if the king marries Elisa. So, she gets dragged to this new land, with new people and unfamiliar customs. And, no one knows she is the new queen. Elisa isn't powerful, beautiful, strong, or smart, at least in her own eyes. She's overweight, and the reader never forgets this, because Elisa is so self-conscious about it.

Before she even gets settled in her new kingdom she ends up getting kidnapped, and this begins her tremendous transformation. Because of her hardships, she becomes strong. Because she finds out the true story of her captors, she uses her knowledge of war to become a real force in the fight against the Invierne.

At one point, I realized, uh-oh there's going to be a love triangle. But this never really develops very far--and the way Carson handles it is unique -- I don't want to say more than that.

Elisa is very devout and prays all the time. However, this book isn't preachy. I see quite often that religion in books bothers some people. It really doesn't bother me. It's just like real life; there are many people with diverse beliefs that we meet along the way. So, you should know these people, at least some of them, are Godly, in case that is something that bothers you.

This is a story about Elisa. Don't get too attached to anyone else because they are all expendable. They come and go from her life very easily. There are some important side characters, but we don't get to know any of them very well. This really didn't bother me. Elise's story is compelling, and I was perfectly happy being in her head the whole time.

I also absolutely LOVED the ending. This is the first in a trilogy, and I'm certainly anxious to find out what's up next for Elisa, but this story ended. No cliffhanger!! Exactly the way a series book should be.... I'll recommend this to fantasy/adventure lovers. I think boys or girls would enjoy this one, even though the main character is a girl. There's war, and battles, and strategy, and dirt, and death.  Lots of "boy stuff." And if you shy away from fantasy, you may still want to give this one a try.

As a side note -- the back of the ARC compares this to Graceling (which I enjoyed) and Pierce's Tortall books (which I couldn't get through.) So, be careful of book blurbs!

Published by Greenwillow, 2011
ARC won from Small Review & Ruby's Reads
432 pages

Rating: 5/5

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  1. I'm glad that Elisa left her whiny ways behind. I'm not a fan of whiny characters.

  2. Sounds like a good book. I'm going to check into it and maybe add it to my tbr. Thanks for the great review!

  3. Oh, I love your review! I am reminded of the book The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. In this book, Raisa is a princess who looks forward to kissing a lot of boys. She knows her marriage will be arranged for the best of the nation, but she hopes that day will be far away. Oh, I can't begin to tell you how much I loved watching her change and grow and discover more about her world.

  4. Maybe, maybe I should have read till the end.. But, I realyl didn't like the story and most of all I felt patronized a little so that I stopped reading the last third. I did read a lot that especially the last part was even better than the rest. But... it just wan't for me!
    Glad you liked it Annette!

  5. This book was good, eh?? I thought it was so interesting, and it went in a zillion different directions (in a good way - as in it was unpredictable, which is rare these days). Loved Elisa as well... her transformation was awesome and really real feeling.

  6. I STILL have this one unread on my shelf I can't believe this! I bough tit right when it came out and it sounds so cool! Wonderful review Annette I'm reminded how much I want to read this! :)

  7. Great review Annette - I picked this one up over the weekend when it was recommended to me on Twitter. Looking forward to reading it!


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