Author: Rae Carson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pub Date: September 2011, HarperCollins
Format: eBook (epub)
Source: Purchased from Books-a-Million
Synopsis (from BN.com)
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa has always felt powerless, useless. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king who needs her to be 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 save his people. And he looks at her in a way no man has ever looked at her before. 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.
This was likely my favorite book that I read while on vacation last week. I honestly did not want to put it down and finished it in less than a day's time. The adventure is incredible, the world building is vividly detailed, and the cast of characters is really quite superb. I love that Elisa is a flawed (and realistic) girl who emerges into a heroine you can't help but root for. Equally important are her servants, the others who are seeking her, and the king she marries. I wish I could say more about the characters, but I think it would most definitely spoil the story a bit for those of you who may not have read it yet. What makes them so interesting is better left as part of the telling of the story, as so many of the characters evolve along the way.
I think the only part I truly disliked was that in the first part of the book, Carson seemed to feel the need to remind us constantly how imperfect Elisa was -- well, really, how fat she was. I mean, I got it from the beginning, I didn't need the constant descriptions that were really unnecessary to the events taking place. I did appreciate that we have a female heroine who doesn't fit the typical mold of perfection, but the constant reminders were silly. Of course, Elisa changes in many ways both physically and emotionally throughout her quest, which isn't really surprising. But the key is who loves her regardless of her appearance -- who loves her for the girl she is and the amazing woman she becomes. Elisa's growth throughout the book is some of the best character development I have read this year, quite honestly.
Now if you've read my reviews (even my last review the other day, in fact) you know that I am a big believer in happy endings. Well, The Girl of Fire and Thorns doesn't really have that. And you know what? I am totally okay with it! Don't get me wrong, certain events/twists definitely made me sad, but somehow, I just couldn't see the story going in any other direction. I also think that Carson did a good job balancing tragedy with the potential of what is to come for Elisa. I am hoping that the romance piece of the puzzle has a little more life in the next book -- I suppose that part left a little bit to be desired for me, as well.
Have I intrigued you? I hope so! I think this is a great debut and I look forward to the next book in the series, The Crown of Embers, which is due out September 18th... I will definitely be downloading it as soon as it is available!