The book is full of beautiful language, which moves the story forward at a pace quick enough to have you flipping pages at paper cut-inducing rates, but slow enough to let you really take it all in. The action is nonstop. Character growth is evident on almost every single page, and it's all interspersed with conflict on a both fluid AND jarring levels. (Trust me, fluid and jarring do too go together here. You'll see.)
So then, we're moving along at this already fabulous pace . . . and KA-POW. The end of Part I reaches out and sucker punches you. Trust me. Like the book even needed to get more exciting. But it does. By, like, a zillion percent.
My eyes looked like this : O.O
I can't say much more about that without giving anything away, but dayum.
I think I've said before, I'm not a huge setting description kind of person. But The Girl of Fire and Thorns converted me. Elisa travels all over the place. Sometimes willingly, others not. But there's not a step she takes in which I couldn't picture her location with complete precision. And I wanted more. Rae's words weave up and around you until you feel your feet taking Elisa's steps. Your eyes taking in Elisa's sights. I'm not sure I've ever read anything that's pulled me in this way. (Oh, and while we're on the topic of Elisa--you don't need to look any further for a strong female MC. She's brave and smart and just all around spectacular.)
Every single thing in The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a specific place and purpose. Not that you'll notice while reading, because the writing's so smooth . . . And the subplots. Oh, the subplots. They're threaded together so seamlessly you almost forget they're there. Almost. But afterward? You'll realize that each and every one of those things builds and builds and builds into something much BIGGER, with way more relevance than you'd ever expect.
And to that, I say: BOO-YAH. Well played, Rae Carson.