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

the girl of fire and thorns

Publisher: Greenwillow

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

Series: Fire and Thorns

Pages: 423

Release Date: September 20, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:

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.

__________

Let’s just say that this book definitely has its strengths and its flaws.

Characters

   Elisa:

I absolutely love that Carson steps out of the formulaic female protagonist! Don’t get me wrong, I love them as much as anybody else, but not everyone is perfectly fit, petite, and attractive. Elisa, on the other hand, begins the story with food as her only friend. Moreover, I could see a gradual change in her throughout the book. She liked some of it while also admitting that she did not like her evolving self sometimes. Carson does a very good job of showing the reader how Elisa makes decisions. Elisa’s thought processes are more than simply stream-of-consciousness.

The Men:

Alejandro, Elisa’s husband, shows the reader just how little looks matter sometimes. He is gorgeous, yet weak. He cannot seem to make a single strong decision throughout the novel and his insensitivity proves to be very irritating. That said, he becomes the perfect foil character to both Humberto and Hector. Both men are deep, chivalrous, kind, protective, etc etc. They’re almost too perfect. Nobody wants a male protagonist without flaws, right? Moreover, the two men are nearly the same person.

   Ximena:

I loved this lady! She is a very static character, but that serves as a complete bonus in this case. When things get crazy in the novel, Ximena is the constant nugget of solidarity. Who doesn’t want a complete badass lady in waiting who can hem a perfect gown while serving as your fierce guardian?

Overall, I thought that Carson could have done a more thorough job with characterization. I had a hard time feeling any attachment to many of the characters. When Elisa has conversations with other characters, I feel like I am seeing them through a veil because they weren’t quite real to me.

The World—

The novel takes place in a mostly desert climate where God dropped the characters’ ancestors—literally with his “righteous right hand”—many generations ago after the First World ended. The country of Joya, where Elisa spends 99% of the novel, is a vast desert with a small hilly region along one border and a coast/oasis, where the capital city lies. Elisa’s home country seems to be less dry and the enemy territory seems much woodsier, but there is no kind of map to which I can compare the settings. The Godstone concept is SUPER interesting and different from normal protagonist distinctions, although I feel like having a stone, no matter how alive it may be, lodged in your bellybutton would be uncomfortable. My only complaint is that the God seems under-formed. I know that this God is a supreme, all-knowing being, but as the religious elements lean heavily toward Christianity, I feel like the God should be more personal and have more of a dynamic voice. I just don’t understand how Elisa feeling the Godstone “pulse” and “warm to the idea” is communication with God. That said, I LOVED the faith Carson incorporated! I’ve read many reviews where the writer did not like the amount of religion Carson uses, but it’s really refreshing for me.

The Themes—

Self-sacrifice

   Extraordinary from ordinary

   Having faith in yourself

Final Thoughts—

   Read it! This book has some room for improvement, but the things you will take away from it are valuable, not to mention a good read! It’s entertaining, inspiring, and real—er, well, it’s still fantasy…You get my drift. Elisa is a witty protagonist who doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings. When she’s embarrassed, you’ll feel embarrassed with her. When she’s feeling snarky, you know she has a good reason. When she’s grieving, you’ll feel her pain as well.

I really hope this review helped you! It’s my first one, so I am open to suggestions on other books and ways to improve!

               

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