Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns 
by Rae Carson

Hardcover424 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Greenwillow Books

Summary from book: “A fearful sixteen-year-old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic.”

My Rating: 4.5 Caught-Me-Off-Guard GREAT

My Review w/ NO spoilers (pretty much):

What an interesting, unique book!!

There are princesses, kidnappings, arranged marriages and love. There is plenty of danger and bad guys who range from well-meaning, to selfish, to soldiery to downright wicked - devious. With such great ingredients, I expected Carson to come up with a plot I recognized, so I was in for a great surprise.

I have heard other reviews comment on the praying and God in the book, and I agree with whoever said that it permeated the story so completely, it lost any awkwardness that might have been anticipated. The way Elisa grew in her understanding of God and praying made complete sense.  The characters of the priests added a lot of depth. I really enjoyed (or hated) them. There's plenty of MAGIC, too, surrounding the Godstones!

The supporting characters were so varied and real. I never had quite enough of any of them. Lord Hector - was there more behind his reserve or did we see it all? Ximena was such an interesting character. Elisa talked with her about wanting to know more about who she is, her past and her motivations, etc., but then the idea was dropped over a situation they don’t know how to discuss. Cosme is another person so full of intrigue. She has so many reasons to be hard and cold and yet so many cracks where we see passion. I want to get to know her better. I really like her almost despite myself!

Don’t even get me started on Humberto. There were so many chances for a relationship to brew, but the author didn’t turn up the heat up until she had other plans. Those plans felt forced to me, almost as if the author didn’t know how to resolve the conflicting relationships otherwise (something I was very curious to follow through with).  If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. I didn't feel satisfied with Alejandro, either. His character is so unique - I totally loved that while feeling irritated with him. But I didn’t feel he was given a great loose-end-tie-up. (I loved Calico Reaction’s differing opinion with Spoilers - check it out especially if you disagree with me!!  :-)  Question: Am I irritated because of pre-suppositions of what should happen to the main guys in a story? Or because it really was as awkward as it felt to me? What do you think?!

I can only make these min-complaints because the author managed to write so seamlessly. I didn’t see the words on the pages (as I flicked through them on my Nook), I saw the story played out for me, big as real.

Elisa is amazing. Rae Carson didn’t tell me she was eating to console, she showed me, made me feel the why and the self-condemnation that accompanied it.  I felt as though Eating was something separate from Elisa, forcing her hand, impossible to stop.  I loved how the author made me feel the emotions while leaving my imagination to fill in just how big Elisa was. I ached with her, wanting to stop with her. Amazing. (See below!!)

En fin, I loved the way this book was written. I loved Elisa. I was surprised at every turn. The story was alive and I am very happy to hear this author is writing more. 

The cover is unique & interesting, but it was not part of my draw to read this book, to be honest. I didn't realize the godstone is on the cover 'til someone pointed it out and the rest looks like a forest scene, which, well... The face in the gem is really good. She looks wary, passive but ready to do something (am I seeing more than is obvious?) and that fits.

 Rae Carson Rae Carson 
I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I moved to Ohio to marry my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. We live in Columbus with my teenaged stepsons, who are awesome. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.
From Rae Carson's Blog, there is news that The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a 2011 Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction - yay!!

Just last week Rae Carson wrote a post for Greenwillow Books in which she discussed weight. The whole post is so great - you must hop over and check it out. The following is a clip where she describes how Elisa progresses in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and how she is perceived:

Elisa has an unhealthy relationship with food. No one believes she’ll accomplish anything, and her lifelong social conditioning has caused her to believe this harmful perception. 
She begins to change right away. In chapter two, she stands up for herself and takes control of her wedding night. In chapter three, she saves a man’s life by grabbing the weapon of a dead enemy and stabbing with it. In chapter four, she has an epiphany about her own self-absorption and makes a point to focus on others—and on and on through the end of the book. My goal was to show Elisa gaining confidence through a gradual process of taking control of her own life and destiny. 
But with Misogyny, Inc. so fresh in my mind, it occurred to me that some people in Elisa’s world might be unable to see past her body to her accomplishments and personal growth. So, for instance, without knowing Elisa at all, her maid finds her unworthy of being the chosen one, and despises her. And later, when (minor spoiler . . . ) Elisa loses some weight, a certain man finds her attractive for the first time—but is unable to acknowledge that she has become a great leader in her own right. 
One sees her as fat. One sees her as beautiful. Neither can see beyond her outward appearance to the truth of who Elisa really is.

Thank you to everyone entering my Giveaway and Following my blog!!  As the Faeries continue to come in, I am so happy to add them to my posts.

Regardless of what we actually look like, 
we are all beautiful  
and this creative expression continues to be a lot of fun...