The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonIt took me almost 3 years to finally read this one.. Which is weird, because I was incredibly excited when this first came out. I'm pretty sure all the books are published now, so.. Yeah. Late to the party. But hey, I read this book while I was in London, enjoying the English sunshine in one of the parks. And while it didn't really blow me away, I liked it enough to actually finish the entire book.
Published: September 20th, 2011 (Greenwillow)
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Other: Fire and Thorns, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
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 needs 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.
First up, I think maybe my expectations for this book were a bit too high. I'd heard so many people raving about this series as a whole, and maybe that caused my expectations to sky-rocket. Perhaps if it hadn't been hyped up that much, I would've enjoyed it more -- with a more realistic approach. But as it is, that was not the situation. So here are my thoughts.
The good: I love how Carson does not baby her characters. She doesn't pare them in the slightest and dares to take risks. The pacing of the story is pretty much perfect. It never gets boring, or slow, or held up by info-dumps (I'm looking at you, Stormdancer). She really knows how to keep the story going and I think that is the main strength of the book. Everyone who knows me knows how easy it is for me to give up on a book, or to take over a month to read a particular book just because I can't get past the massive backstory.. Anyhoo, I really enjoyed that. I also enjoyed that she made Elisa different, as in she made her a big girl, even though that didn't influence the story whatsoever because she lost the weight while travelling *HEADDESK*. I mean, why? There's the opportunity to make this big girl a fierce character, to make her different, but in the end she's pretty much the same as all other female characters in fantasy series (at least as far as appearance goes). I would have liked Carson to use that element of Elisa's character a bit more, but alas.
The bad: while it never actually gets boring, there are several times where I was wondering when something would actually happen, as I felt like the story was just going along without any ups and downs. In Dutch we call this "kabbelen", but for the life of me I can't think of a way to describe what I mean in English. I mean, the story is just there, not being exciting or whatever so I guess that made me a bit bored at times (so maybe it did get boring). While I felt the pacing was awesome, the story never managed to hook me properly to blow me away like it did with several of my friends.
As for the love interests.. My answer to that is "eh". I'm pretty much indifferent to both of them, seeing as there is nothing to make me root for one or the other. I need banter! I need chemistry! Man, I need something to get me going. But no. A missed opportunity, if you ask me.
So.. Those are my incoherent thoughts on The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Perhaps it's best for me to say I thought it was mediocre. When I finished the book, I was convinced that I wasn't going to continue the series, but now that I think about it I think Carson may be able to fix the things I didn't like in book 2? She has one of the most important things down, which is the storytelling itself. I'm still conflicted. Most of my friends absolutely love this book and the rest of the series, so I seem to be an exception in not fangirling about my reading experience :-)