Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BR: Fire


by Kristin Cashore

I have been waiting for this for way too long. Too long. With super high expectations because everyone seems to like it. So I got it. and SQUEE. (and then I read it. and maybe I squeed again...)

Fire is a companion novel to Cashore's debut book, Graceling, and takes place in a fantasy land called Dells. Fire is a 'monster' human, who is exceedingly beautiful and can control people's minds-but is haunted by her cruel/evil/horrid father who basically helped destroyed the entire kingdom by manipulating the king and abusing his influential power. And after her father died, the new king (a better one) is left with a mess of a kingdom, with lords forming armies trying to fight for power. Don't forget the return of Leck...see where his story all started. Fire (the girl) needs to navigate through her troubled conscience in hopes of never becoming her father, yet she has to deal with politics, love, trust, and new friends.

Okay, I loved this book. I loved so many aspects of it- the main one is it lived up to my heightened expectations, something I am always pleased about when it happens because it so rarely does. I also loved the writing- Cashore seems to be improving because her fantasy world is just as good, if not better than the one described in Graceling. I also loved the plot- so unique with the concept of Monsters (human and animal) along with the deal about the royal family (all of them!). I loved the action, the adventure, the romance, and even Small the horse. I don't want to give too much of the plot away except for the fact that it's wonderful.

But most of all, I loved the characters. Well, most of them. First, Fire is such a brilliant protagonist: flawed yet real in her own way. I will say it annoyed me a bit when there were so many (like tons, or maybe it's all in my head) where she cries, and cries, and cries (with good reason though!), but I understand that's just part of Fire dealing with her struggles and not everybody is superwomanly like Katsa. I empathized with her and the situation she had with her father- she can't help but love him despite all the cruel things she knows he had done. I even loved Archer, the best-friend turned lover turned "something else" and how unpredictable some of these storylines went. I liked King Nash (despite his, erm, shortcomings) and the twins, Hanna, Tess, and all these names I will list but you won't understand. Let's just say I liked a lot of the characters and the way they were developed and grew throughout the novel. I also loved Brigan. Seriously, swoon-worthy commander of the King's army. He plays a bigger role than I make it appear... ;)

I thought the mind-reading/compelling aspect of Fire's powers were really cool albeit it kinda reminded me of Po (not the compelling part) from Graceling, and sadly enough-Edward from Twilight. I really really liked Fire's struggle and fear of abusing that power, and internal conflict because of that. She doesn't want to turn into her dad, and fears if she uses her power for something other than self defence, she will become just that.

I did have some tiny thing I disliked, mostly about the Leck storyline. I think it was a bit underdeveloped, and could be a bit confusing- it should have either been fleshed out more or scrapped completely. He just kinda appears, then reappears and stuff.
Also, the romance between Fire and "??" (hehe, read it to find out who! so many attractive guys!) could have been a bit more developed as well. I didn't feel the few acts of kindness and conversations on the roof is enough to justify an I Love You at the end, but that's pushing it a bit. I just wished there could have been more scenes between the two love interests. I like how Fire stood up to "??" and demanded respect (this line can refer to more than one guy actually).

The odd names (this is a pointless comment) are a bit weird but I grew to love the names Archer (especially) Fire, Brigan, and even Nash. There are a few weird ones like Mydogg I didn't really like, maybe because I have no idea how to pronounce it!

9.1/10 - because it really was an amazing book, and I'm so happy I got to read it. The plot and characters are well written, exciting, and rarely slow-paced while the writing is mostly smooth. Some aspects like the ones mentioned above might have been written better. Why isn't this rating higher? I'm not sure actually, I just know that I loved the book but it wasn't love-love-love-love, it was just really good, plus I had some minor problems (the crying...) with it. There is also an almost-casual treatment of sex, so if that's not your thing...
I would definitely recommend this to someone who enjoyed Graceling, likes Tamora Pierce books, or fantasy in general. It will not disappoint!!

-AyC

PS- I also got Hate List and Hush, Hush in the mail today, which should I read next? I hope to post a review on those, but I dunno... I'm still expecting Beautiful Creatures and Let it Snow!
PPS- the US/Can cover is really pretty, but seriously, the UK cover is gorgeous!!! Google it! The one in this post is the US cover.

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