Thursday, September 22, 2011

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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 needs 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.

I had no idea what to expect from this story. A chosen one, a handsome king, an intriguing revolutionary, sounds familiar, right? Well, not in this case. I loved this book. I loved that the author took all these familiar elements and put them together in an incredibly unfamiliar way. I mean, when has a YA book ever ended the way this story ended? I can’t think of any.

Elisa is a wonderful main character, likable even with her many flaws. She starts out so soft and sheltered, overweight, and naive. But she has an incredible mind and a strong will that take her far. She surprises everyone, including herself, regarding what she can do and how well she can do it. It was also so refreshing to read about an overweight girl who doesn't obsess about her weight. She just accepts it as a part of who she is.

She ends up making lifestyle changes that impact her weight, but only because she decides she wants more from life. Not because she's jealous of what other women look like. The jealousy is there, of course, but it doesn't define her. So very refreshing. Her transformation is all about who she is as a person. She becomes a reluctant leader, one who embraces her own power, and I love that she has such a strategizing mind. And yet, she never becomes supergirl. She retains many flaws and faults which she does her best to overcome, but her world doesn’t come to an end if she can’t. I absolutely loved her.

The pacing is quick, all the characters are interesting, and the mystery surrounding Elisa's 'chosen' status unfolds beautifully. And what happens to the love interest is so shocking! I am very curious to see where this story is going next.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of was between Cosme and Elisa toward the end. Specifically, I'd like to see exactly why Cosme disliked Elisa so much in the beginning. Their relationship progressed beautifully and realistically, and I just wanted it to come full circle. But still, it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

The religious aspects were handled well. God is a central part of the story, but in an atypical way. There are two groups who interpret God's will in different ways, not unlike some of today’s religious groups, and both think they are right. So I am very curious how this will pan out. The next book, Crown of Embers, is due to come out fall of 2012, and I’ll definitely be reading it.

To win an ARC of this book, go here.


Jessie Harrell said...

hmmm... I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book. Glad you enjoyed it so much!

Kelly Hashway said...

There's a lot of good buzz about this one. And I love a flawed MC! I'll be checking this one out.

Ronald L. Smith said...

Really looking forward to reading this, Tabitha.

Thanks for the review.