Monday, February 4, 2013

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

Monday, February 4, 2013
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Website
Source: Bought
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 seeks 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.
Summary from Goodreads
You all know I love my fantasy books and The Girl of Fire and Thorns did not disappoint. This novel is so unique and made me want to just keep reading! (Which, with my schedule, hasn't been easy.)

I want to start with Elisa, because I absolutely adored her. She's incredibly intelligent and brave, even though she often doubts herself. These insecurities are, perhaps, what make her so completely relatable. But what made me love her most was her strength. Elisa has so much going against her- her family hasn't been the most encouraging, she has a ton of pressure on her, she doesn't look the way people expect her to, and she's being sent off to marry a stranger and be a queen of a foreign land at 16- but she holds her head high and fights on, no matter how scared she is. She undergoes massive character development, which is done so smoothly and naturally that you won't even notice it's happening.

One of Elisa's aforementioned obstacles was her appearance. Elisa is overweight, which is a welcome change from the usual skinny protagonists that are found throughout YA. (Not to say that there's anything wrong with being skinny. There should just be more diversity.) The author discusses this in her article "Weighing In On Weight," which is found in the back of the paperback and online. Carson handles the subject of weight flawlessly throughout TGFT and I commend her for it. That post especially is worth a read.

As for Elisa's romance with Humberto, I liked it. Their relationship is sweet and it's nice that they start out as friends. My only complaint is that Humberto is too perfect. (I know, you're wondering how that's a problem, aren't you?) Perhaps Elisa hasn't known him for long enough to see his flaws? Or maybe her perception of him is skewed so that she sees only his kindness and his acceptance. Either way, it doesn't really detract from the romance, only if you're super picky like me! Also, I was a little disappointed that Lord Hector isn't the love interest, if I'm being entirely honest.

What I really want to talk about The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the importance of religion within the story. It seems that so few YA books incorporate- or even mention- religion or faith, so this was another break from the norm. Carson explores faith from all different angles and does so brilliantly. Elisa is religious, but not without her questions and doubts, which I personally found incredibly relatable.

One last thing I'd like to note is the setting. Overall, it had more of a Spanish feel than a British one*. (Yet another aspect that set this apart from other fantasies!) I loved the feel that the deserts and language created, and Elisa's descriptions of the places around her make you feel as if you're seeing through your eyes. It's beautiful in a very raw way.

Can you tell that I really loved this book yet? I can't wait to read Crown of Embers, even though The Girl of Fire and Thorns wraps up quite nicely. I could say more, about the action, war strategies, and a bunch of other awesome stuff that made this book so great, but I'll wrap it up here. Basically, this fantasy lover is quite thrilled to have discovered this series!

*Carson said that Elisa's world was largely inspired by Spanish Morocco in this interview.
*4.5 stars*
A Favorite Quote: "God's will. How many times have I heard someone declare their understanding of this thing I find so indefinable?"
What YA books have you read that deal with religion?

6 comments:

  1. I loved this too! I still have to make time for the sequel!

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  2. Great review. I think you hit all on the nail. This was one of my favorite reads of 2012 and for all the reasons you mentioned. Elisa is so wonderful, she starts off not believing in herself at all and by the end she is one confident kick butt girl. I do agree it did have a very Spanish feel to it.

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  3. I loved Girl of Fire and Thorns, and the sequel is even better. Like you, I also adored the fact that Elisa was overweight and that she went through a dramatic character arc. The world building was amazing, both in that it was NOT the typical Generic Medieval World and that religion was extremely important. Elisa's struggle with her weight, self-esteem, and religion was done very well, and I think you'll find a lot to like about the sequel.

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  4. Wait, a YA fantasy that's blurbed by Tamora Pierce and features an overweight female protagonist? I am so there.

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  5. Start by reading the article from start to end. Do not summarize 'on-the-fly' by reading and writing the summary at the same time.homepage

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