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The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire…

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire and Thorns - Trilogy) (edition 2011)

by Rae Carson

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1,1431297,150 (3.88)125
This was one of those books that I kept seeing other people recommend. Each time I would think “I probably ought to read that at some point.” But I never did. I am SO glad that this challenge finally prompted me to pick it up. Once I did pick it up, I couldn’t put it down! Elisa is such a wonderful heroine. She feels inadequate, weighed down by other people’s expectations of her as the Chosen one. But as she struggles through pain and adversity, she rises to the challenge, surprising herself and everyone else with her inner strength. I can guarantee that I won’t put off reading the next installment in this trilogy! ( )
  AngelaCinVA | Apr 28, 2012 |
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I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet to determine what made this book such a good read. It kept me intrigued for several days, and that has become a rare occurance. The plot is nothing new. The religious world is just too close to our world as to be in slightly bad taste. The protagonist is kinda icky to begin, and yet, Carson managed to make me care about her right away. There is sympathy even for the characters that do not behave well.

The theme I found surprisingly pertinent was the interpretation of God's will. Elisa is the only character who feels in the dark about what that might be. Everyone else has a firm conviction that might not agree with other interpretations. This is her strength in the end, that she keeps asking and praying about it. ( )
  2wonderY | Mar 2, 2015 |
If it hadn't been for the overly preachy atmosphere, I might have enjoyed it more. As it stands, I didn't see much fantasy but a lot of "bible bashing", so to speak. Fantasy played a minor role in the story, and that took away much of the excitement for me. It didn't mention anywhere in the blurb that it concentrated so much on God, his chosen one and God's will, and I feel it should considering it is the main plot and point of the book -- and so people are aware, before they pick it up.

However, putting those aside, I absolutely adored Elisa as the main character and all the character development, and how well fleshed out the side characters were. The plot was slightly predictable, but I found myself enjoying the last half immensely.

Full review to come on 100% Rock! ( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
This book has been on my to-read list for a while and I just had to start it. Unfortunately, it sounded better than it turned out to be. I felt like at the beginning the only thing that mattered was her weight. It seemed like on every page it was brought up one way or another. And to be honest that really bugged me because in the end it didn't entirely matter. Sure, health wise, she changed for the better, but it didn't seem to have a significant role in the sense of the overall story. I'm not saying she shouldn't have been fat to start out with, I'm just saying that it didn't need to be so prominent if it didn't play more of a major role in the story. The story did pick up again in part 2 and I thought it was finally gonna pick up a bit. It did, but then it would simmer back down again. The end did redeem the book a bit, but I felt it did end rather abruptly. The whole book, or at least the last half, we were expecting war and then the war seemed to end so quickly. Perhaps I just wasn't ready to read this book yet to fully appreciate it because I know many people speak highly of this book. Maybe if I continue on with the series I will enjoy it more. ( )
  JosP | Jan 15, 2015 |
Very good! Will definitely seek out the next in the series!
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
I found this one interesting but found the weight transformation a little problematic, sudden weight loss can have issues, at least there were some consequences and it was interesting to read. it was also good to see that she didn't trust the effect the transformation had on some of the people around her.

Elisa was blessed, or cursed, with a gem in her navel shortly after birth and she now has been married to another king, sent to another kingdom. When she's kidnapped she has to find depths in herself and strengths she never knew she had.

It was an interesting read and I look forward to the sequels. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Dec 18, 2014 |
It is nearly impossible for me to say anything about this book without drawing comparisons to Robin McKinley's [b:The Blue Sword|407813|The Blue Sword (Damar, #1)|Robin McKinley|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1286927812s/407813.jpg|2321296]. Both feature reluctant heroines who are blessed with some sort of special-ness that they don't know how to handle, they both grow significantly throughout the book, and both stories have significant portions that take place in a desert! (Okay, maybe it was the desert that did it for me.)

I really did enjoy The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I liked the characters, and I felt the pacing was well done- just when I may have begun to get bored, something exciting happened that drew me in farther.

Enjoyable read, altogether. Not amazing, but likable and exciting nonetheless.
( )
  kateminasian | Nov 22, 2014 |
Elisa bears the Godstone, a diamond-like jewel in her belly that marks her as destined to perform some great act of service in the future — if she can survive in the turbulent times ahead with war on the horizon. When she is secretly married on her sixteenth birthday to a king in a neighboring country, she finds herself thrust directly into that turmoil.

I enjoyed seeing Elisa's personal transition. Her story, as much as it is about war, adventure, love, and magic, is also very much about growing up and meeting the challenges life puts in front of you, something especially difficult when you're young. In the beginning, she's struggling. She feels useless and like and outcast, believing her sister hates her and that her family is happy to be rid of her through marriage. She eats to sooth her emotions. She's a large girl and because she compares herself with her slender, graceful sister, she indulges in further self-loathing. Some readers might find her whiny, but I could sympathize with Elisa. Being a teenager can really suck. I know, I've been there. I've spend a fair share of my teenage days hating my body and feeling like an horrible, ugly unwanted outcast. Maybe that's a part of the reason why it was so cool seeing her grow as a person as she faced each new challenge, becoming stronger in confidence, body, and soul.

Something I also really liked was the world-building and setting. The towns and people's names are inspired by the Spanish language and the people are generally dark skinned. The setting is jungles and the deserts and hills, so not the typical British Isles-style feudal fantasy.

While the religion described in the book seemed a little too simple and too widespread with no competing belief systems, I appreciated that there were variations in how characters approached their belief. In fact, it's the variations in interpretation that causes much of the overall problems throughout the book.

While far from a perfect read, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was enjoyable. I'll be picking up the sequel soon. ( )
2 vote andreablythe | Oct 30, 2014 |
Flat out amazing.I laughed and cried. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. ( )
  simplybookdrunk | Aug 30, 2014 |
You know those books that you desperately want to tear through, but at the same time you know you should pace yourself and savor them so they last as long as possible? All three installments of the Fire and Thorns trilogy were those kinds of books for me. No weak volumes here. From start to finish, Rae Carson had me hanging on her every word. Kristin Cashore’s Graceling still holds top place on my favorites list, but the Fire and Thorns trilogy is definitely way, way up there.

Full review of the trilogy is posted on Erin Reads. ( )
  erelsi183 | Aug 1, 2014 |
Enjoyed this book even if it was slightly "disjointed" and a bit hard to figure out how in the world the woman ended up leading a revolution.

Bad part was they warp scripture. "Like a pig being brought to slaughter..." It did have some good messages in it about praying and what to do when God doesn't answer prayers and all in all not that offensive so probably OK to buy. ( )
  FaithLibrarian | Jul 29, 2014 |

Elisa is a different type of heroine, as not only does she feel like a useless, fat princess, she carries a Godstone that marks her place in a prophecy. Once she is taken from her privileged life, then the strength of her real character comes forward and proves her to be a capable leader.

But it's a brutal struggle to get through it all, and when her feelings between her husband of an arranged marriage and her kidnapper, Humberto, are split, then she has to make the decision to help her new friends and keep her Godstone from falling in the hands of those who would burn the world with it, or running away while she still can.

Probably the only thing I didn't like about this book is that there is a lot of death, though I'm not going to give away any spoilers. Will be reading the second book of this trilogy. ( )
  Musefall | Jul 29, 2014 |
Hmm...well, I'm intrigued enough to be willing to continue the series, I'll say that. I did feel the main character could have been better written, especially during the first part of the series. It isn't til she is kidnapped that I started to even like her. I wish some of the secondary characters were better developed and wish there had been more development of the relationship between Elisa and Humberto. Not the best young adult fantasy novel I've read, but I suppose my biggest compliant is that I want more, not less of the characters. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 3, 2014 |
This review originally appeared on Book.Blog.Bake.

While reading this book, my thoughts towards it jumped all over the place. At times I liked it. Sometimes I LOVED it. And sometimes I was just too confused to know what to do with myself. All in all, though The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a really great high fantasy YA, a genre for which I have pretty high standards.

I was skeptical about this book at the beginning. Our main character, Elisa, has a Godstone in her navel, placed there at her birth. And yes, that is just as weird as it sounds, and no, it never becomes less weird the more I think about the story. The Godstones are significant–a living symbol of the divine and a powerful tool. The Godstone is a living thing, and Elisa uses it to guide her throughout the story. Now that, I could get behind. I mean, in a religious perspective, who wouldn’t want something that told them all the time what God’s will was, if your goal in life was to follow it?

And that’s another thing I thought was so interesting about The Girl of Fire and Thorns–the religion in the book. It’s not religious, but it does play a big role, and I thought the way Carson weaved religion in this story was so flawlessly done. It’s similar enough to theistic beliefs of our world, but it was incorporated in a way that had it’s own back story and it’s own legends behind it in the book.

In fact, the world-building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns in general was pretty perfect. There’s a lot of names and people and fighting, and I did lose track sometimes, but I never lost belief in the world. The fighting and the stakes felt real, which is something I always look for in a high fantasy novel. I learned early on that no one in this book was safe, and as sadistic of a reader that may make me, I like that. I need to feel that the main character and the secondary characters I love are in real danger to keep me interested in a story like this, and Carson does that well.

Elisa is. . . well, I’m not quite sure how I feel about her. She’s real and raw, and I appreciate that. I do feel her character growth was a little sudden at times. While I was all for some character growth and for Elisa to really come into her own and start being as awesome as she could be, it did feel like quite a quick transformation. However, the book does mention that quite a bit of time passes in just a few sentences, so I guess her character change isn’t as sudden as it seems. As a reader, though, I would have liked just a little more development in that section. That being said, I LOVE the person Elisa was at the end of this book. She was still real, raw, and flawed, but she also became the character you root for and say something like “You go, girl!”

The only other minor thing even worth mentioning is that the plot of this book wasn’t my favorite, but I think that was more of a personal thing. Warring sections and alliances and such aren’t my favorites, but I can’t deny they were well done. I’m still so shocked that at the time of writing, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was Carson’s debut novel. While the writing itself blows me away, I don’t think I ever would have guessed this was a first novel, which is quite an accomplishment. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy the rest of the trilogy even more. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
Elsa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and 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 her to be 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 things 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 hart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those people who need her most. If the prophesy is fulfilled. If she finds the power within herself. If she doesn't die young.
Most of the chosen do.

My thoughts:
When I first read reviews for this book, prior to picking it up to read myself, I was turned off by several who mentioned that the author uses the trials of the desert as a way for Elisa to lose weight. For a long time that kept me from reading this book until finally I picked it up because my mind kept wandering toward's its story. After reading the whole book I would have to respectfully disagree with the other reviewers who found the desert sequence and Elisa's resultant loss of weight repugnant.

Readers will find it difficult to not sympathize with Elisa. She is fat, and she knows it. She eats when she is nervous and unhappy. These are things that most people can empathize with. All her life she has been told that she is chosen but no one, not even herself, has ever expected her to do anything. On her 16th birthday she is suddenly thrown into a world at chaos, with only her faithful nurse to guide her. She changes, she grows. She remarks upon it herself, thinking of how flippant she is on several occasions. In the much debated desert sequence food is scarce, sure. But the author does not emphasize this aspect of the journey. Elisa walks, she exercises in other ways. She grows to know more about who she is and what she is capable of, even if its just exercise. In the beginning of the story she remarked on how her sister was the athletic one, not her. It sort of sounded as if she'd set out to be the opposite of everything her sister was and now, in the desert, she discovered she can be more too.

I found this book to be a great story of a girl growing into who she is, growing into the woman she needs to be. So many things happen to her towards the end of the book that if you imagine the girl we met at the beginning of the book facing these things we would find her hiding in the kitchen scarfing down pastries rather than plotting the defense of a city against invaders and solving a religious puzzle that leads to the salvation of an entire country. I look forward to reading the remaining two books in this series and discovering, along with Elisa, just how many ways a person can grow.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales and often wondered if being the heroine was all it seemed to be. This book definitely shows the difficult, gritty side of being a hero. ( )
  LisaBost | Mar 3, 2014 |
I once read a quote that said something along the lines of "I don't expect an author to make me happy, only to take me to new worlds." This book most definitely took me to new worlds, though I can't say it made me happy, because it was a sad book overall. The writing was very good, though I wasn't overly fond of the main character. The pace was a little slow for my taste, but she did a beautiful job of description and scene setting.

The quote on the front of the book says it's "engrossing" and I have to agree with that. It is. It just wasn't the kind of book that made my heart sing, that had me really rooting for the characters, and fully invested in the outcome. ( )
  CyndiTefft | Feb 6, 2014 |
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 2.5 Out of 5 Controllers
Review Source: Audiobook purchase
Reviewer: Joint Review Jennifer and Diayll

Girl of Fire and Thorn by Rea Carson was interesting. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my favorite story either. It opens of the sixteenth birthday/wedding day of Elisa. The youngest daughter of the king of a small isolated kingdom, she doesn’t see herself as anything special. She is short, chubby and has no particular skills. The only thing that she feels is special is the gem embedded in her navel. Known as the Godstone, she is the first bearer chosen in a century. This reason is the only one she can fathom as to why her father chose her to wed King Alejandro. Immediately following her wedding, she is whisked away from her home and sent to live in his kingdom. When they finally arrive, Elisa’s life gets even more difficult when Alejandro ask her to keep their marriage and her identity as the bearer of the stone a secret. She is also wanted by enemies of the kingdom who intend to use her as a weapon.

In a lot of ways I liked this story, but I hated that throughout the majority of the story you feel bad for Elisa. Most of us can relate to her in some way, body image issues and the feeling of being inadequate just to name a few. But all the other things the happened to her made the story almost unbearable to read. While it was satisfying to watch her come into her own, the journey to get there was terrible to read. There were also some other things about the story I absolutely could not stand. The way she loses weight for instance, while I understand that she was lost in a desert and starvation is bound to happen, I don’t like that this is how she lost the weight.

For a fairy tale lovers (and closet romantics) like myself, this book is a serious reality (as real as it can be) check. It’s not easy to be a princess/ secret queen/ bearer of a supernatural magic stone. If you can get passed the general sadness of it, the story is actually pretty interesting. I haven’t completely given up on this series and I hope the next installment is better.

My Rating

2.5 Out of 5 Controllers


I completely have to agree with Jennifer on this one. I actually started out listening to this audio ages ago, and when I finished, I loaned it to my cousin because I just didn’t know how I felt about it. It was good…not great. Nothing really stood out in the story for me to say WOW. I think most of my issues stem from how the first half just drags…and drags…and drags on. It was like slowly walking up a hill and never actually reaching the top. Not until a little over midway through did I begin to fall in love with the story.

I’m not sure if it was the writing style of the narrator for The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but between the monotone voice of the MC to the lack of action in the beginning, I was less than impressed. I wanted to love this novel and by the end, maybe I did. Heck a part of me does I think in some way, feel “the feels”. The side characters to me are what kept it alive. I think they were very well written and I enjoyed what each brought to the story. I just wished I could have loved Elisa. She was always so down on herself, and then I’d see a spark in her and a feisty spirit. I wish I’d gotten more of that spirit through out the entire novel. She kept putting herself down so much I just wanted to thump her forehead and tell her to “woman up!”. At some point, you expect the main character to get a backbone and speak her mind or just do SOMETHING for his/herself. In this case, we don’t get much of that. Which is very sad because Fire and Thorns #1 could have been really, really, awesome.

Overall, read it. You might like it. You might love it. But if you’re looking for a strong character that shines bright across the pages…you might not find it here. It’s unusual for me not to love a good fantasy story, but this one…totally missed the mark.

My Rating

2.5 Out of 5 Controllers

Diayll ( )
  momgamerwriter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Although not as good as some YA Fantasy of this ilk, like by Cashore, I found this enjoyable. I specifically liked a heroine who was not thin/athletic but still able to use her intellect and strategy to overcome. There were few surprises in the end but again, this was a fast, enjoyable read. ( )
  HunyBadger | Jan 31, 2014 |
An interesting YA novel dealing with issues of duty, fate, kismet, and faith. I was actually surprised that this was a YA book--not that it detracted from the story in any way, but there were several intense scenes (including a horrific death). I enjoyed the deeper issues here, especially the heroine's questions of her god given duty: what is it, what must she sacrifice to achieve it, and is she capable of giving her all? I felt like the ending solution was a bit rushed, but overall a very strong debut (as a side note, I also LOVED that the 'romance' wasn't forced down the reader's throat, and dealt with realistic issues like one-sided attraction, fickle attraction which changes over time based on physical changes, etc). ( )
  willowsmom | Jan 15, 2014 |
I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so much that I’ve been having a hard time coming up with the words to describe it. The story takes you on an epic journey, with high-stakes adventure, romance, suspense and magical elements. It’s a strong beginning to a new high fantasy series and earns a spot with my favorite fantasy books by Maria V. Snyder and Kristin Cashore. The fearless storytelling and world building kept my interest and I felt like I was right in the center of the action with the protagonist Elisa.

Right away the story takes you on a journey, as Elisa leaves home to embark on a new life. The world building is set up skillfully well to show the sights, sounds, political landscape and culinary delights of Joya. The story has a leisurely pace at the beginning to give you the lay of the land before abruptly taking you out of your comfort zone and into a new direction. The visual descriptions of the setting are interesting and made the desert locales come alive. Also, there are religious undertones in the story that naturally work together with the Godstone and the idea of the prophecy to fulfill. I found the religious aspect to be non-intrusive and added dimension to Elisa’s story.

Though the story has very successful fantasy elements, the characterization is also well done. There are several supporting characters that add interest to the story. As the book progresses, Elisa gets stronger inside and out and people begin to respond more favorably to her. However, there are a handful of characters that can see Elisa’s value from the very beginning and help to build her self-esteem. It’s interesting to view Elisa’s interactions with those around her and to see her confidence grow.

The fantasy, adventure, and smart, strong and unconventional heroine made for an interesting and exciting read that kept my interest throughout. There are surprises and the feeling that anything can happen to these characters that kept me on my toes. I also liked the message behind the story. This is the first book of a trilogy, but the book has a satisfying conclusion on it’s own while leaving Elisa’s path open to new opportunities. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Crown of Embers, due out in October 2012. ( )
  readingdate | Jan 7, 2014 |
This review was originally posted here on the Legend Awards website. I received a review copy of this book from the folks at the David Gemmell Legend Awards because it was nominated for a Morningstar Award (debut novel). Sadly, it didn’t make the shortlist, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book.

Fire and Thorns is about Elisa, a sixteen year old second princess who was chosen by God for a higher purpose and who, at the very start of the novel, is married off to a neighbouring king. This is very much a coming of age story in which we watch Elisa grow from a fat and useless princess — in her own eyes — to queen.

When she was a baby, God sent Elisa a Godstone, a gem which is lodged in her bellybutton and which marks her as chosen to perform a divine service. But she has no idea what that service might be, or how she can possibly achieve it.

I liked the setting Carson chose to write. It’s a blend of Middle Eastern location — deserts, adobe houses, dark-skinned people — and Spanish linguistics. At first I was a little geographically confused when Elisa first left her father’s kingdom (I wished the book included a map) but this was resolved as the story wore on and she travelled more. Likewise, I found the Spanish-inspired names a bit confusing in what my brain associated with an Arabic setting, but culturally, I think it worked, especially as we learnt more about the religion and the Godstones.

At the start of the novel, Elisa is has a bit of an inferiority complex. However, she’s been well trained by her tutors and when she arrives in her new kingdom, she discovers that her skills — particularly what she knows of war and strategy — can be put to good use. She is also overweight and, although she never defines herself entirely by her weight, part of her low self-esteem is tied to her thinking everyone sees her as “fat and useless”. When she faces trials throughout the book, it’s really nice to watch her confidence and self-worth grow as she overcomes them. By the end, I found it quite plausible that she could go on to be a great queen.

The main criticism I have, and the only thing that made this feel like a first novel, is that the setting was a little bit under-described. Despite being told in first person, I thought a little bit more setting description beyond the character’s immediate surroundings would have been nice. For example, some explanation of the nature of the jungle separating her father’s and husband’s desert kingdoms. Since Elisa is well-educated, I think this could have easily worked. In the same vein, some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little more. Also, the role of women in their societies was never explicitly discussed. I got the feeling that there were few prejudices stopping women from being in power (there were no issues with her sister inheriting her father’s throne, for example), but then why was she married off without consultation? Maybe because she was a princess, but we don’t get a chance to find out how similar arrangements are made among commoners of her father’s kingdom (though there are vague hints about how it works in her husband’s kingdom).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Fire and Thorns. According to Carson’s website, it’s the first book in a trilogy, but it is quite self-contained and absolutely stands alone. From the ending, I can see where the sequels might take the story, but there is certainly no cliff-hanger and no niggling loose ends. I’ll probably take a look at the next book when it comes out, but it’s not quite at the top of my to read list.

I recommend Fire and Thorns to lovers of fantasy and YA fantasy, especially those who’ve had enough of medieval-style settings.

4 / 5 stars ( )
  Tsana | Jan 2, 2014 |

I loved that the author chose a Spanish-influenced culture for the story's backdrop. In most of the fantasy I've read, the cultures tend toward more English and French roots, with plenty of Norwegian and Viking-ish clones. I've also seen quite a few with Arabic and Egyptian accents, but Spain? I don't think I've read any like that before. That I find very exciting.

So it's refreshing to see that influence in the book, in the character's names, place settings, and even the flow of the language. The fact that I'd recently returned from a trip to Spain before reading likely influenced my notice of the language. As I read, the text flowed with a Spanish cadence through my head, the lull and rise of rolling syllables and the passion behind the words.

That said, I struggled with one element of the story, and it colored my overall impression of the book. The main character, Princess Elisa, isn't skinny, not in the least. That's great; books need more characters who represent teens of all colors, shapes, and sizes. The problem I has was with the way Carson handled (treated? I can't think of the right word) Elisa's obesity. Yes, overweight women and teens eat a lot, or at least more than they're burning off through activity, but I don't know of a single woman dealing with weight issues who thinks of food all the time. Sure, Elisa's a stress-eater (I am too, though I've learned to temper it to a good extent), but focusing so much of the character's thoughts on food and eating—always hungry, need food—overstates it to the point of caricature.

I'm guessing Carson didn't intend for it to come across that way, but with so much emphasis placed on the princess' eating habits (even once she begins to lose weight), it threw the story out of balance for me. It became the story of a fat princess who loses weight, and not the story of an awkward girl who does her best to save a kingdom despite some rather difficult physical and emotional limitations.

All that said, it's an enjoyable read, and I can see why it has so many devoted fans. The book was reminiscent of—and perhaps a tribute to—Tamora Pierce's [b:Alanna|9394691|Alanna|Tamora Pierce|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1301914566s/9394691.jpg|1936544] series. So I'm giving this book 3 1/2 stars with the hope that the sequel will improve upon the first and make this a 5 star series.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy! ( )
  shellwitte | Dec 11, 2013 |
I liked this book alright.. it was definitely interesting. But I felt that it was hard to follow at times, like there were too many characters, and new words, and phrases I was unfamiliar with. I was slightly disappointed about the love interest(s) as well. With that being said, it was exciting and inspiring! I started on the next book already :D ( )
  asgwilli | Dec 2, 2013 |
Wow. WOW.

I'm completely unable to put together a coherent thought, let alone a coherent review. I may attempt it later, when my brain recovers. ( )
  emmyson | Oct 9, 2013 |
The fast paged plot kept me turning the pages-I stayed up past bedtime to finish the entire novel in one sitting. I liked that the protagonist wasn't perfect and struggles with weight and family issues on top of her enemies. However, her love relationships were not fully fleshed out (in my opinion) and all ended rather conveniently in death. (She never has to really figure out her feelings.) I also had some issues with the Godstones-it is never explained how certain individuals ended up with old ones. Still, I'd read the sequel! ( )
  kimpiddington | Oct 1, 2013 |
Full review on Reader's Dialogue: http://readersdialogue.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-girl-of-fire-and-thorns.html

This book was recommended to me because I love Robin McKinley's Damar novels. And I immediately saw why. The two series are very similar, though each one has its own unique voice and style. It starts with a girl who thinks she's worthless and winds up being the most important person in the world. Along the way, there's kidnapping, royal marriages, intrigue, budding romance, stark loyalty, friendship, loss...

Elisa is so compelling right from the start, even as she's being obnoxiously insecure and finding comfort in food. I absolutely loved the food aspect, by the way. Because Elisa turns to food so often, there's a ton of mention of food throughout the book, and I loved the inventiveness as some foods were recognizable and some were completely novel and delightfully exotic (I'll pass on the rat soup, though, which apparently Elisa will too!). Her insecurities actually become the point of entry for us to identify with her, and the way the king treats her leaves us as confused as she is. She of course thinks there's a deeper reason for the king marrying her than her beauty, of which she assumes she has none, but when he appears to love her, she begins to tentatively hope. And though the king is far from a bad person, I couldn't help hating him a little as he was so blind to Elisa as a person needing love and acted kind in a way that cut deep.

The Godstone that rests in Elisa's navel is just as confusing. She thinks she gets help and responses from God, but she doubts it also, and she hates it at times for allowing her friends to die when she prays and it sends warmth as if it's accepting her prayer. Her relationship with the Godstone is central to the story, of course, and is essential to her growth.

Humberto is possibly the only person who doesn't act ambiguously. Elisa doesn't trust him at first, but I loved every scene that he was in, because he has such a quiet strength and is such a perfect gentleman. I sort of fell in love with him. Which makes what happens so much harder, of course, and I really hope Elisa finds a way out of it in the next book - like in the first few pages, maybe, please? Though I know that's not really possible.

But the main part of Elisa's journey is discovering her own worth and rising to the challenge presented to her, and I think her realization at the end of the book about the connection between her being chosen and her choosing to act is so heartwarming. And I can't wait to find out how it all plays out further... ( )
  EstherShaindel | Sep 30, 2013 |
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