Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

From the book jacket:
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.

It's taken me a couple of days to figure out how I feel about this book. It is fantastic fantasy, but I didn't love, love it like I wanted to. The story was completely engrossing. The mythology was a strange mix of Catholicism and, I don't know, maybe what you'd find in a Kristen Cashore novel (Graceling or Fire). The religion isn't overwhelming or preachy, though. It's just the source of magic. I loved Elisa's character. She is so strong and real. She has weaknesses and like any real person, she makes mistakes sometimes. She works through them and pushes past them. She's bold and confident and courageous. A fabulous heroine. 

I gave this 4 stars on goodreads, but I wish I could have given it 4 and a half. The reason that this isn't a 5 star book for me is because of one plot element I struggled with. Elisa begins the book being very obese. It's not the obesity that bothered me (heaven knows it's not like I'm in great shape), it's the fact that Elisa wasn't considered beautiful or worthwhile by men until she loses weight later in the book. Elisa's personality is always vibrant and powerful, but it's not until she's skinny that any of the boys look at her. This bothered me. That, and sometimes at the beginning of the book the descriptions of her gorging herself grossed me out a bit.

Despite that, I definitely recommend this book. You will be completely swept up by the plot and mythology. The story is both empowering and heartbreaking. There are unforgettable characters. This is one of the best fantasy books I've read in a long time.

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