The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Rating: 4 stars
Published: September 20th 2011
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.
For a debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a strong start to a series I can't wait to continue (if only I had the sequels in hand). I'm glad my friend Rokan recommended it to me.
It's different from the fantasy novels where the heroine is skinny or immediately prepared for the fight. If that was the case, the book would have been written about Elisa's sister, Alodia. Elisa is relatable to many teen girls (and me, despite not being a teen girl no longer) - she's insecure about her body and herself and she's doubtful of her worth as a bearer of the Godstone. But over the course of the novel, she grows from being the cloistered princess to a strong-hearted Queen. It was fascinating to note the change in the end of the novel, when she ends up being the one in control and bosses Alejandro around, instead of the other way around.
The one downfall of this novel is the confusion over the world building. There are bearers every one hundred years of these Godstones that end up in a person's navel. With these Godstones, a bearer is committed to fulfilling God's will. From there, there is much conflict over the usage and true purpose of a Godstone and the bearer, and the debate of its use left me confused. There is also many religious discussions over the Godstones that had me scratching my head - I wasn't very sure how these Godstones really worked.
However, incorporating religion (one that seems to be similar to Christianity) and magic brought an interesting twist to this book. The devotion to religion and the various religious languages that were bearing similarities to Spanish had me thinking I was in medieval Spain, or in countries like Spain.
I was at a Teen Reads Panel once at Books of Wonder, and I distinctly remember one of the author's saying that she was discussing with Tamora Pierce the conflict in YA fiction on mentioning bodily functions. As gross as it may sound, there is one scene in The Girl of Fire and Thorns where Elisa is found in a rather compromise situation. This is perhaps the only book I've read so far (in my blogging history of a yearish) where the bathroom situation was discussed. In my opinion, that's pretty cool! Why is going to the bathroom so frowned upon in fiction if it's normal to do?
The romance with the love interests in this book wasn't really romance, and instead it was more of a comparison for Elisa then and Elisa now, and strengthened her development. Her marriage to Alejandro was like a girl's first crush, and eventually you realize that the crush is actually really weak and spineless. Humberto is like a girl's first love, and although there is heartbreak, you realize that time heals all wounds.
I am really looking forward to the rest of the series!