The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
The Skinny: Elisa is the chosen one. But for someone who was chosen for greatness by the Heavens she hasn’t done anything remarkable with her life. When she is suddenly (and secretly) wed to a King from a neighboring kingdom the mystery of being the chosen one begins to unravel. Elisa learns that not only does her new husband need her to help save a kingdom in turmoil but that she is needed elsewhere to be a leader of the people, not to mention that enemies who possess dark magic are tracking the chosen one. Her.
Elisa’s world is turned upside down, her faith and purpose being tested with every footstep. And when she begins to fall for one of the revolutionaries who believes she could be the people’s savior, her heart is torn between her duty to her new husband and the excitement of new love.
BFF?: Do you remember that girl who was a little pudgy and always whined about having to go to PE and how she was “so totally fat” but never seemed to say no to French fries or crispitos* in the cafeteria? That’s how I see Elisa as in the beginning of the book. She drove me insane and honestly I would hate to be friends with this Elisa because I feel like I’d have to constantly remind her that she’s pretty. But then Elisa grows up. She becomes stronger and more self-sufficient; she becomes a true princess. She’s no longer whiney or wallowing in self-doubt. Elisa becomes someone you could truly be friends with. And eat with.
*Crispitos – the most delicious thing that high schools across America have ever served and are in danger of being destroyed by the government.
Readability: Fantasy worlds are always a little tricky, especially when the writer makes up most of it. Luckily for this book (and us readers) this is the perfect balance of fantasy and reality. The world Carson creates doesn’t confuse the reader. In fact, most times I was able to imagine real life places from her descriptions rather than having to make up images as I was reading. The book flows nicely, filled with action, mystery and intrigue. Another thing that was a big turn on for me was the realistic approach the writer took to creating Elisa. She wasn’t perfect, had self esteem issues… just like every other teenage girl in the world.
Crush Level: 5
It just wouldn’t be a YA novel without a love triangle, right? Luckily this triangle doesn’t really make you want to root strongly for one or the other. King Alejandro, Elisa’s husband, is kind of weak; handsome, but weak. And while there’s a definite spark of friendship between the two, there’s certainly no romance. Elisa wishes for it, but at the same time doesn’t feel too strongly that it’s not there.
Humberto, who loses major points for the name, is one of the people she meets later in the book. He quickly becomes her protector, attempting to shield her from danger while being extremely sweet and caring towards her. Elisa feels attracted to him as well. But that’s generally it. Nothing to write home about except sweetness.
Religion – Sometimes religion in books can be a little, well… religious. Preachy. While you can very definitely tell the religion in this book was based on Western religions, there’s something mystical and fantastical about it. Also Elisa’s dedication to praying and her studies made me wish I was that dedicated and devout.
Food!!!! – Even though Elisa’s eating really got on my nerves the girl ate some good grub. Carson’s descriptions of the different meals and eats were spot on… really making me wish I had a royal chef to whip me up some yummies.
Middle East – I really liked the fact that the characters and settings in the book weren’t your standard European/Western Civ. characters and settings. Although it was set in a fantasy world to begin with, having it in a fantasy Middle Eastern/North African type setting just added more mystery and beauty to it.
The Godstone – This was probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever read. The Godstone is a blue stone that magically appears in the chosen one’s belly button during a ceremony when he or she is a baby. It stays in there until that person dies when it will fall out and just become a blue stone. As if having a blue stone in your belly button isn’t weird enough, try adding the fact that it turns warm when you pray and cold when there’s danger.
Superlatives – Most Likely to Make you Hunger OR Most Likely to Start a Religious