The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This isn't an easy one to review. As a whole, I did really like it. I loved the Latin influence in the invented cultures, all the place names etc, that was a nice touch. As well as this, all the right components were there, brilliant and engaging plot, characters I either wanted to hug or punch, effortless writing, seemingly this book has it all. Yet there is something niggling at me.
I think the easiest way to explain it is that the book feels like a trilogy in one volume. There are three parts and each is very different, from settings and characters to tone and atmosphere. Thinking of them as separate bits of the same story helps me figure how I feel about the book. The issue really is with the first and second part as these hold the most differences.
Part 1 is my favourite. She introduces her story and characters marvellously. I started reading late at night and though trying to go to bed, I would start the next chapter without realising because I was completely drawn into the story from the very first line. It also helps that I do love bit of palace intrigue!! XD The relationships that are built up in this part are wonderfully done and just how I like them, especially the romancey bits. Slow but not painfully so, rather they tease and tantalise leaving you wanting more. I was so invested in everything about the story that when part two came along, it was a bit of a shock, like a pie to the face.
Part two involves not just a rather dramatic setting change but also an almost entirely new cast. I will admit that I was little disappointed in the direction the author took. It's not that it was bad. There were still the same high standards of writing etc as in the first part, the new characters were well developed and believable and the story still engaging and exciting. So really it's just that I wanted more of the palace stuff and maybe there might have been a possible romantic interest in the first part that I really, really, really warmed to. It was the way she was leading up to it, it was sooo gooood!!! Deepening friendship, meaningful glances, growing respect etc all things that I love as I watch a relationship unfold. But in part two, we are introduced to another romantic interest, but this time there is none of the unhurried build up and for the male at least, the attraction is instant, which is no fun at all. I think it's safe to say that I am a big fan of the chase, rather than the end result. But I need to stress again, this is just my preference and others may have no problems with the changes in the story. The book is GOOD and I can understand the need for the second part as it is conducive (if that's the right word) the the development of the main character, Elisa.
Speaking of, my what a delightfully likeable and endearing character she is. Her battles with her body image are treated with equal amounts of sensitivity and humour, with a part in particular involving a young boys honesty that made me chortle!! I can find no real fault in her at all. The author has succeeded in creating a multi-dimensional character who can convincingly portray naivety, fear, courage and love with vast amounts of realness and genuineness, making her a wonderful narrator.
Lastly, part three took us back to the palace, and though still good, just felt a smidge rushed. It was refreshing reading a book with a proper and actual honest-to-goodness ending, but which entertained the possibility of more. This is most certainly a world I am eager to return to.
Also...PRETTY COVER!!!! XD
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