I'm not really sure how to write this review. Because I'm not the best reviewer in the world. And I know without starting my words won't do Rae's words justice. Like, at all. But hopefully that alone gives you some idea about the amazingness of The Girl of Fire and Thorns in itself.
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.
But the truth is, I was lucky enough to be one of Rae's crit partners for this novel, and I'm immeasurably pleased to see it in its (nearly) final form.
There's nothing about this book I don't love. Rae's writing is gorgeous and lush, but never feels cumbersome or gratuitous; she finds the perfect detail to share with you. The plot is exciting and complicated enough to keep you guessing -- though never so complicated you can't figure out what's going on. The story carries you along at a good pace -- not too ponderous and not too breakneck. Truly, this one is a rare perfect-for-me book.
But my favorite part of the story, even above all the nerdy pacing and prose stuff, is Elisa.
Princess Lucero-Elisa is chosen. She's the bearer of the Godstone, which comes only once every century. It means she's destined for greatness and to perform an act of incredible service.
Elisa just wants to stay in and eat pastries. She gets winded climbing the stairs, avoids political functions at any cost, and her wedding dress gives her four breasts.
She is a hero more unlikely than most.
But she also has a quick wit, clever mind, and a delicious sense of humor. She is kind, loyal, and pure in her faith. In spite of some less-than-desirable-in-a-princess-and-hero qualities, Elisa is someone you'd want to hang out with. I loved her relationships with other characters, how they grew, how they changed depending on the circumstances -- just like any real-life relationship might change. I loved how her views of other characters unfolded as she gained more insight into their lives.
The book opens with Elisa being married off to the king of Joya d'Arena, a large neighboring kingdom, and then she's whisked away in secret. Through jungle attacks, palace intrigue, kidnappings, desert journeys, and incredible personal loss, Elisa undergoes a subtle transformation hardly realized at first, shown in word choices and unconscious character choices. Through Elisa's very readable narrative, Rae builds her world around the characters so skillfully there are no seams.
Rae's respectful treatment of faith adds another quality to Elisa's character and the worldbuilding -- a quality missing in a lot of SFF-YA. Never preachy or judgmental, religion in Elisa's world is approached in the same way many religions are viewed and accepted in the real world. Some believe, some don't, and there's a wide spectrum in between. This aspect helps make Elisa's world as real and vivid as our own.
My love for this book is epic, and I can't wait for everyone else to share Elisa's incredible journey.
I'm recommending this book to readers who've been waiting for the next great high fantasy.
GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is a stunning debut. The world is lush, vivid, and fully realized, from the various locations to the politics and religion driving the war. The characters are subtley portrayed, layered with complexities, and I absolutely love that the heroine is not your typical YA heroine. She's fat, she's afraid, and she doesn't know how to take action. And by the end of the book, she's come into her own, on her terms, and values herself. It's a lovely transformation. I was kept on the edge of my seating, reading as fast as possible even while I savored the amazing world, because SO MUCH happens and I had to see what was coming next. Amazing book.
Character development, world building, exciting pace, interesting and unique heroine ... something fresh and new.
Such a wonderful addition to YA fantasy! The world-building is flawless. I was instantly captivated. The plot is high stakes and kept me turning the pages. But even though both of those elements are fantastic, what really makes this book shine is the heroine Elyssa. She isn't like other heroines, and I loved reading her struggles, understanding her heart sometimes before she did, and seeing her come into her own. What an incredible book!
The main character, Elisa, is beyond likable. She’s the perfect balance of lovable and flawed. In fact, she starts out fat and sweats a lot, but that doesn’t stop her from savoring a couple honey-glazed pistachio buns. :) Elisa has realistic worries and fears, yet she’s by no means weak or helpless. She’s so well fleshed out and charismatic that by page 5 I wanted to be her best friend. I loved her so much that I wanted to jump into the book to assess her groom-to-be and make sure he was worthy of her. My feelings of love, protectiveness, and cheering Elisa on through her intense adventures and challenging relationships never wavered throughout the entire story.
I love Fantasy, so I ate up the world building and the mystery and history of the Godstone. I usually need a lot of romance in my stories to make me love them, but not in this one. Romance wasn’t the main focus, yet I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I didn’t even realize how little romance there was until I had finished the book. The story itself, and the characters, are so strong that I didn’t require my usual overdose of romance to stay engrossed. And that says a lot coming from a die-hard romantic like me.
Rae’s beautiful descriptions and exquisitely crafted writing inspired me to want to be a better writer. So many times I had to set the book down and just sigh, praying that one day I’ll be half the writer she is. I can’t say enough good things about The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
This book was awesome. I found it a very DIFFERENT story, which is hard to find with all the young adult paranormal junk. "She was new in her high school" yadda yadda. This has action and adventure! It is a little religious (Which I am not) however, it is easy to overlook.
Lot's of details, huge story, many change of scenery, detailed characters, love story, unexpected twists and very very creative.
After several volumes of dystopian fiction, it's refreshing to come across something that's simply fantasy. Though there's nothing "simple" about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a book set in a kingdom on the brink of a war they know they can't win, told in the voice of the king's secret wife. Sixteen year old Elisa marries Alejandro because she's told to. The only bearer of the Godstone, she knows she is destined to do something great for her people - and probably die doing it. But it's more likely that she'll miss her destiny, quiet and unassuming as she is. When circumstances pull her out of her solitude and force her to face not only her destiny, but her own inner strength, she learns to become the queen she really is, and earn the respect of her people.
I'll hopefully draft a more thorough review a little later, but for now, just know this is a book you should absolutely read. The characters are the sorts of people who become friends, and the world is one you will be happy to get lost in. It hurts to wait for the sequel in September, but I was grateful that The Girl of Fire and Thorns didn't leave me hanging.
This book blew me into infinity and beyond, it was just amazing. The plot, the characters, the writing style, were all past the five star limit, reaching to eleven and further. I loved every part of this book, every twist and turn, every hill or valley, it was awesome.
One of the things that I loved the most was Elisa being fat. I've never really read a book where the heroine was this fat, it was sad and hilarious. It also brought a different appealing aspect to Elisa, as most heroines are skinny and pretty, or just slightly on the chubby side, and Elisa really didn't care that much, as she just loved to eat. It was great that she didn't really care about her figure, but it was also brilliant to have her lose all that weight as the book progressed, I could see very clearly Alejandro's face when he saw the new Elisa.
When the book took a turn and Elisa was kidnapped, that's when my interest was really captured. The way that Rae Carson wrote the journey was great, although hardly any of it was written, you could still feel it's power. Elisa changes so much on the journey, she basically becomes an entirely different character, which never works well in most books, but this one, it worked brilliantly.
What I thought was really sad/great was Humberto. You could see even from when they first meet, that Humberto had a crush on Elisa, even though she was really fat. SPOILER!! It's really terrible how he just dies, and Elisa has no time to mourn him. He was such a perfect character, he never pushed Elisa, and never discarded the fact that she was already married. I was heartbroken when he died, I can only wish that he becomes alive somehow in the future (which I know will never happen).
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a wicked awesome book, and had such a perfect plot, characters and even the writing style can be described as amazing. I recommend this to every young adult, just give it a try, it will blow you away.
A Unique Religious Mythos and An Intelligent and Confident Heroine!
The Girl of Fire and Thorns completely blew me away. Strong character development, a suspenseful and thrilling plot and wonderful world-building combined to make a story I fell in love with.
At first, Elisa was not an easy character to love; she was a young and naive girl, content with being sheltered from court politics and current affairs in order to study the history of other Godstone bearers in the hopes of being better prepared for her destiny of service. Self-conscious of her bulging figure and terrified of the unknown, she was quite self-deprecating. She turned to food for comfort, especially when she realized her new husband was merely humouring her while secretly coveting another. But after being forced to move a month’s journey from her homeland, after being taken into captivity by a group of people determined for her to be their saviour, and then choosing to rise above it all, Elisa became a heroine to be proud of. Her growth was staggering in measure, but gradual in nature considering it spans months of trials and tribulations, of heartache and pain. By the end of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa was eager to offer counsel, eager to jump into a leadership role, decisive in the face of her husband’s indecisiveness and more terrified then ever, yet finally unafraid to act.
The secondary characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns were just that – secondary – but their importance to the plot and Elisa’s maturity were irrefutable. She was able to realize her initial feelings for Alejandro were childish, after her experiences with Humberto. She learned that Hector’s coldness was his attempt to mask his feelings, after her experiences with Cosme. She was only able to piece together the history of the Godstones because of the various priests who helped provide different parts of the puzzle. She was forced to grow up because those around her expected nothing less. Each character brought something to the table that Elisa needed – whether it was moral support, an encouraging smile or a kick in the ass. While none of them truly stood out in a specific or memorable fashion, I did find myself growing fond of many of them. And without each one of them, I can’t imagine the plot having flowed nearly as smoothly.
And what a plot it was! Deception, betrayal, lies, secrets, action, suspense, romance - The Girl of Fire and Thorns had it all! I was completely captivated from the first page, thanks to Carson’s attention to detail. I was on sensory overload with sights, sounds – even tastes! – brought to life through Elisa’s experiences. The religious mythos that Carson created was layered and complex, adding a depth and richness that I found addictive. Even the pacing was phenomenal – starting off slow, and gradually building into a crescendo of twists and turns that left me breathless!
If you haven’t already figured it out, I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns! My expectations of a chubby girl spouting off religious propaganda were blown out of the water as I was lucky enough to experience a unique and intriguing religious mythos through an intelligent and confident heroine.
Loved Elisa, not your typical stick thin heroine! Like everyone out there, has some issues with herself. Worried that she wasn't good enough for her husband Alejandro, who happened to be a king. Knew that her sister didn't have love for her and that their dad prefer her sister. The only thing keeping her stable was her devotion to God and the unconditional love of Ximena.
Kidnapped over a prophecy that may or may not be true. Fell in love with one of her kidnappers, who didn't see her as this prophecy, who saw her as an actual human being. Learning to grief over his death, made her a stronger person that she was already becoming.
Bloody hell I loved this book!!!
*Still mourning over Humberto's death, for sure thought he would stay with her!