Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: September 20, 2011
Pages: 423
Read it in: 3 days
Summary: 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.

LC's Take:

So yes, I definitely fell in love with this book! I thought that The Girl of Fire and Thorns included pretty much everything that I look for in a YA fantasy novel-- action, adventure, romance, awesome characters and imaginative world-building.

Elisa is a 16-year old princess from the kingdom of Oravalle, and she has no idea what her purpose is in life. Granted, she has been chosen by God to be the carrier of the Godstone, which only happens to one person every hundred years, but she doesn't consider herself to be very special. The gem is actually in her navel, and it signifies that she is destined for greatness, and must complete some heroic act at some point in her life-- even though she doesn't yet know what it will be. Only once she marries the king of another territory, who happens to be a total stranger, and sets off on a journey to fulfill a prophesy does Elisa finally come into her own and develop into a strong, confident character.

Elisa was an awesome heroine, for two main reasons: first, she was completely unlike any other YA heroine I have ever read about and second, because she makes such drastic changes throughout the story. I think one thing that made Elisa so unique was that she was very real-- she was overweight, clumsy, lazy, not particularly brave or intelligent, and in fact throughout the first 200 pages or so I didn't much like her at all. I thought she was pretty darned annoying actually. But by the end, she had become so much stronger and her character had grown so much, that I definitely respected her. In the end, it seemed so much more realistic to have her start out as a somewhat annoying and immature character, and then have her learn and grow based on her journey and experiences. This made her interesting-- and I will take interesting over pretty and perfect any day...

Another thing I loved about this book, and what I thought made it really stand out, was all the sensory detail that was included in the story-- the scents, the tastes, the sounds-- these are things that I sometimes find to be lacking in YA books, but in this case it gave the story so much more richness and depth. The scenery, the clothing, the scents, and especially all the yummy descriptions of food! I definitely appreciated all of these details that made the story come alive and seem real. Added to this was a detailed religion and social structure that was central to how Elisa and her society lived, which created a complete culture throughout the book. I have to say, it was awesome and I was super impressed!

For me, this book was much more appealing and enjoyable than Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which I had to bring up because it's really the only other YA fantasy book I have read since I started my blog. I was not a huge fan of Graceling, but I do think that if you enjoyed that book you will really love this one as well. I thought that the world building in this book was much more complete, and the main character was easier to like and relate to than Katsa-- Elisa became powerful and independent without coming across as standoffish or cold. For any fantasy fan out there, or for anyone who is looking for a book filled with adventure and action I would definitely recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns-- It is a breath-taking, beautiful story that will definitely keep you reading!

~Cover Talk~

I really love the cover for this book, and I am so glad that they changed it drastically from the original ARC cover-- not that the original wasn't beautiful (because it was! See right image), but the Elisa on it looked absolutely nothing like the Elisa as described in the book, so I am happy to see the changes that were made to stay true to the actual story. I love how you can see Elisa's face in the facet of the gem-- and yes, the stone does have a key part in the book! Altogether, a very beautiful cover for an awesome story!

LC's Rating:
Thrilling, exciting, action-packed-- I could not put The Girl of Fire and Thorns down! I'm pretty sure you will love Elisa and the journey she makes to become a strong heroine, and the richly detailed world-building will have you completely wrapped up in the story from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this book to all my fantasy fans out there, because it was amazing!


  1. Oh, Lea, I am sooooo happy you fell in love with this book because so did I! It was definitely one of the best books of 2011 in my opinion. I agree with you: I will take an interesting character over a perfect one any day!

    The Musings of ALMYBNENR

  2. High fantasy? I'm on it! I didn't know too much about this book, despite all the attention it's received in the past. I absolutely loved 'Graceling', and any high fantasy is more than welcome to my shelves.

    The main character sounds like a doozy. I really do hope that she doesn't come off as annoying *to me* by the end of the book then! Annoying protagonists really drag a book down, you know?

  3. When I started reading this one I really couldn't get into it. I think maybe it was just the wrong genre for what I was in the mood for.

    I think I might have to pick this up again at some point as I've read so many positive reviews.

  4. I love the new cover! I can't wait to read it. Hopefully I'll get to it soon!

  5. I love the newer cover as well. I've been wanting to read this for a little while. It's one of those books you kind of want to read, but aren't completely sure yet. But now I think I'm sure. =) I'm glad you loved it. I can't wait to find a copy of this and read it.

    Great review!

  6. Thanks for reviewing this I wondered if I would like it and it sounds great! Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust

  7. Oh, I have this one and I can't wait to read it. Glad you enjoyed it so much. I like the new cover as well.

  8. I just purchased this on amazon and can't wait to read it! I disagree about the cover though. I actually liked the ARC better. Just not a fan of the new cover. Oh well. Awesome review! :)

  9. I'm glad to hear she has flaws, one thing I started noticing recently with YA is that the heroine's are too perfect, they're don't grow into a hero but rather are already one. I LOVE fantasy and definitely will be checking this one out! I'm glad it's better than Graceling since I disliked it very much. Love your thoughtful review! :)

  10. I've heard so many good things about this book, and your review is pushing me to pick up my copy right now! I can't wait to read about Elisa--she sounds like an amazing heroine. :)

    - Lauren @ 365 Days of Reading

  11. Great review! I like the way you remembered the sensory details - I was literally drooling from time to time as "lemon ices exploded on my tongue" and I'd forgotten that in my review!!

  12. I want to read this book so bad. I will definitely be adding this to my lists.

  13. This sounds SO good! I have seen it in my local bookshop a few times and every-time I pass it over because of the price (and because U have a whole load of book to read already) But I don't think I can hold back much longer. What can I say? I'm weal willed ;)

    Thank you for the brilliant post :)


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