I've had a really hard time reviewing this book. Part of me wanted to give this an extremely high rating, while the other part--the part that worries for her daughter and the rest of the impressionable youth throughout the world--wants to forget about the stars all together. When it all comes down to it, though, The Girl of Fire and Thorns
is an engaging, well-written story that left me thinking about it long after it was done.
Rae Carson is an amazingly descriptive writer. The world she created for this series is rich with sights, sounds, colors, textures, smells--it's multi-sensory and just fantastic. The characters were believable and, though predictable, realistic and not flat at all.
So what was my issue? Why didn't I LOVE this book? I pretty much detested
Elisa. Maybe that's too harsh. Maybe I didn't detest her--I just hated her. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't because she was an emotional eater or because she was fat or because she wasn't beautiful, as many reviewers have mentioned. I just didn't like her personality--even a little bit. Throughout most of the book, she was selfish, whiny, and disdainful.
She didn't try
at all. Elisa had been given this amazing gift and was devoutly religious, yet she felt no joy or pride in being chosen. She was a princess and knew she had a higher purpose in life, but she made no effort whatsoever to prepare herself for that purpose or to appreciate the many blessings she was given. Instead of making any effort, she sat back and waited for everything to be handed to her--her dinner, respect she wished to have but wasn't willing to earn, her destiny and purpose.
Her physical transformation was at first an issue for me. She didn't feel empowered until she looked different, in spite of knowing
she had been chosen by GOD to complete a service in His name. She had a physical manifestation of God's favor embedded in her navel, alive and communicative, yet didn't feel worthy of respect or station until she shed a few pounds. What kind of message does that send to all of the young readers of this book? After thinking about it, I realized that this theme is more true to life than I'd like. Fat is still a fear and prejudice that is encountered today, and mostly without repercussion.
I think it's entirely realistic for Elisa to love her new body. What I didn't love is that when she finally decided to do something and step into a position of power, she didn't really
want to do what had to be done. A reluctant hero.
There was a fair bit of angst that I was sad to see, and the situation with her husband was wrapped a little too neatly, but overall the storyline is great, and I definitely look forward to the next book.