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Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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Release Date: September 20, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: NetGalley + HarperTeen
Purchase: Book Depo. | Amazon | Kindle
About the Book:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Normally, I jump to any fantasy books I have in hand first, and then move onto what's left in my reading pile. I love the fantasy genre! Yet, for some reason I held off reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns in favor of other things. When I actually sat down and started reading, I discovered Rae Carson delivered an intense, outstanding debut that chewed up my nerves and spat them out onto the ground with its thrilling, action-packed adventure-plot and awesome characters! It gave me a few disappointments, frustrated me, had me tearing a little, and mostly pushed me to the edge of my seat.

Obviously Carson did her homework, because the backstory, the history, the surroundings, all have an intricacy that shows that Carson knows her world well. The language she made up, the traditions, wow! It all felt very real and it was easy for me to become entrenched in the story and enjoy the world-building. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is very much unlike anything else I've ever read. I liked seeing all sides of the spectrum--the good guys' land, the bad guys', and the ones in between. It was incredibly fascinating, being in each of these totally different places!

Elisa is mostly kindhearted, really down on herself, at least at first, because she's chubby, but very likable. I think what made me like her the most, though, was the character growth I got to witness throughout the book. Elisa starts out as this shy girl with low self-esteem, dreaming about love, and turns into a... warrior. One who regains confidence, stops caring so much about how people look at her, and ultimately makes choices and promises that endear her to me. Finding herself to be desirable and wanted gave her new perspective, and it was rewarding to see her change. I loved that she turns into a hero, despite how she started out. Watching her fall in love was even better.

The romance element... I really liked, up until the last section of the book. I'm really mad at Carson for the direction she took this romance, but to say too much would give it away. In everything I read, the romance is the center of my attention. I tried not to let that be the case this time around, because it has so many other excellent aspects to focus on. The brewing war and anything battle-related I reveled in.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns serves up a gut-wrenching, deep plot based in an amazing fantasy world and delivers a beautiful message. I'm not one for preaching-type messages executed in books, but when it's done well and subtly so that I can make up my own mind and open up to it, I definitely don't mind. The Girl of Fire and Thorns, kinda like The River of Time series, is full of faith, love, sacrifice, and choice. Elisa, I clearly adored, because this isn't a book about her whining about being fat. It shows her growth from an ordinary, diffident young girl into a brave person willing to take action for what is right, even in the face of dire consequences, who triumphs against all odds. And the characters who love her because they see that she's wonderful, able, and beautiful I couldn't help but be smitten with.

This book holds an epic adventure, and my only warning is to take into account that one of the focal points is the war that's raging, and we all know how unpretty war is. There's blood and death, and Carson doesn't hold back. And the best things about this book is that it supersedes trend and goes beyond, and that the world-building is so strong, so vivid but info-dumps and tedious backstory is absent. No, Carson shows rather than tells and that's what made it so easy to get engrossed in her world. With a breathtaking heroine, wonderful, vigorous characters, and the engaging, thrilling plot (the romance doesn't hurt... oh, wait it does) The Girl of Fire and Thorns blew me away and I can't wait to find out where Carson is going to take Elisa's story next!

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He will know that I am easily bored, that my dresses grow larger with every fitting, that I sweat like a beast during the desert summer. I pray we can be a match in some way. Maybe he had the pox when he was young. Maybe he can barely walk. I want a reason not to care when he turns away in disgust.

"You're ignoring me."
"Yes."
I sigh with exasperation. "I've never had a friend before. Just tutors and nurses and servants and... a sister. So I'm not very good at being a friend. I don't know why I upset you and I don't know what to do about it."
...
"You didn't tell me you were married."
"I'm not in the habit of revealing state secrets to kidnappers," I snap. "Of course I said nothing. And see? You're angry."
"No. I just feel... foolish."

2 comments:

LindsayWrites said...

i want that one sooo bad!!

hey! i'm spreading the word about Teen Shiver, a new group of YA authors that have combined together! stop by the Teen Shiver blog and follow us?? :)

http://teenshiver.blogspot.com/

Small Review said...

I was shocked at the direction she took the romance. I kept waiting for some 11th hour save...maybe in the sequel?? I really liked this book and Elisa. Her transformation was wonderfully written.