Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Spectacular
On Goodreads

Oh, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, how I have loved thee.

What makes this book just so different from anything else I have ever read is the religious aspect. Elisa’s whole life centers on her being the bearer of the Godstone – a stone that appeared in her navel from a ray of light on her name day. Now, this all might sound a little strange, but believe me when I tell you that the way Elisa’s religion and status as bearer weaves its way through this story is truly remarkable. From the history of Godstone bearers to different forms of her religion, Carson masterfully created a believable and well thought out religion on which Elisa’s society was built.

And that brings us to Elisa. There’s something so wonderful about how Carson jumps right into the insecure mind of our main character, Elisa, from the very first page of this book. At the start, we know that Elisa is a young and coddled princess, but she grows tremendously by the end of the book. Elisa is so different from main characters I’ve read in other books in a way that I could actually relate to her more. Elisa loves to eat, and I am not using the word loves lightly. Moreover, she’s fat. The fact that Elisa is fat actually drives a lot of her character in the beginning of the story. Elisa worrying about her weight and what a cute guy thinks of her appearance is so normal for a 16-year-old girl, and it made me love her so much more. One of my favorite lines:
If my gown isn’t going to fit anyway, I might as well soothe my pounding head and rumbling stomach with a warm pastry.
A girl after my own heart – couldn’t have said it better myself.

Of course, weight is not the only thing driving Elisa – there’s also the Godstone, and how she must fulfill her act of service to God as a chosen bearer. Throughout The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa struggles with her faith and how everyone thinks they know what God’s will is while she remains utterly clueless. Elisa truly evolves through her search to figure out what she is meant to do, allowing her to learn how to act on her own and building her confidence.

Don’t call my name, don’t call my name… Alejandrooooooo. Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out my system, onto the lovely king to whom Elisa is married at the beginning of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. There really isn’t much to say about Alejandro’s personality: he’s indecisive, weak, and shady, but also quite friendly at the same time. His relationship with Elisa isn’t much – in the beginning, he tells her he wants to be friends, but he is largely absent, barely giving Elisa the time of day. At the same time, the way he conducts himself allows Elisa to grow into her role as Queen. Because Alejandro is indecisive, Elisa learns a bit about leading, and because he pays no attention to her, Elisa learns that what he thinks of her doesn’t really matter in the long run – she must do what she needs to do in order to rule and fulfill her act of service.

Now we have the guy who actually cares about Elisa: Humbeurto. From the moment we meet Humbeurto, we see him caring for Elisa and protecting her. The only downfall about Humbeurto, for me, was that we only really see him as a person who revolves around Elisa. We know he’d do anything for Elisa and all that, but there isn’t a lot of any of his other motivations (besides revenge). However, the fact that Humbeurto loves Elisa to such an extent and that he defends her not only to physical harm, but also to her doubts, allows Elisa to feel powerful.

Cosmé, on the other hand, works against Elisa for much of the book. Cosmé constantly looks down on Elisa, belittling her. Despite the way she antagonizes Elisa, the two become friends. Cosmé’s nagging at Elisa becomes motivation for Elisa to work harder and prove herself. I was really surprised by how much I grew to like Cosmé. If someone had told me I would like her by the end when I first met her in the book, I would have laughed. Hysterically. But Cosmé becomes so much more than Elisa’s hand maiden who she doesn’t trust – she becomes someone Elisa can rely on, someone she trusts whole-heartedly.

Another interesting character is Ximena, who is largely a mystery to both Elisa and the reader throughout The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Ximena is Elisa’s nurse and the closest thing Elisa has ever had to a mother. Ximena will do anything for what she believes is best for Elisa or Elisa’s protection. Ximena is so devoted to Elisa; their bond, so sweet.

Of course, there’s the matter of a war and crazy Inviernos out to take over Joya d’Arena. The Inviernos are crazy. I know if I was Elisa, I would be terribly frightened by them, but she stands her ground. How Carson describes the battle scenes is wonderful, adding drama and suspense and making the reader anxious to know the outcome.

Overall, I truly loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It’s original premise and wonderful character building truly pulled me in and made this an unforgettable read.

- Kiersten

How would you feel if you were expected to fulfill an act of service like Elisa?
Let us know in the comments!

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