The Girl of Fire and Thorns (rpkg)

By Rae Carson

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kristi perry
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is an unusual book. A book where the main character does a complete 180 throughout the course of the plot, in looks and personality. A book that emphasizes the characters' faith in a way that fits seemlessly with the plot and is never preachy. A book that starts out weak and grows stronger and stronger. A book that incorporates Spanish language, culture, food, architecture, and more. A book where romance is present but not nearly as important as the protagonist. A book with major plot twists.

Elisa is one of the best fantasy characters I've read in a long time. She starts out this novel at a low place. She's fat, lonely, and undervalued. At least she thinks she's these things. Elisa was born with a great gift: the godstone - a stone embedded in her navel - only one person receives this gift each century and each is endowed with some great, unknown duty. For a girl who holds a position even higher than the princess she was born as, she sure is underappreciated. No one thinks anything of Elisa. Even her beloved nanny coddles and overprotects her. Her family is tough on her. Her new husband is embarrassed by her. Elisa's only friend is food. While it's difficult to see a nice, smart girl constantly berate herself and use food as a form of comfort, the author did a fabulous job of making Elisa relatable. I cared about her and understood why she felt so horribly about herself.

All this changes when Elisa is kidnapped. In fact, the entire book changes. It goes from being a slow, somewhat depressing novel, to being a action-packed, girl-power thriller. Elisa undergoes tremendous physical and mental change as she walks through the desert for days with her captors. And as she learns more about the world around her - the world that was hidden from her during her sheltered childhood - her idea of who's right and who's wrong begins to change. Elisa is ready to fight and to assume her birthright of the godstone bearer. And fight she does. Don't underestimate Elisa.

There's a great cast of side characters. I loved Elisa's nanny Ximena. One of the few people from Elisa's childhood who truly cares for her. And she's no Mary Poppins. I loved the complexity of Ximena's fighting skills as well as what Ximena hid from Elisa. Elisa's kidnappers are also an interesting lot. They start out as enemies and slowly turn into friends. Each had their own personality and relationship to Elisa. I especially loved Humberto. Sweetest guy and so perfect for Elisa! It added a nice element of romance to this story. Even Elisa's sister, who spends much of her time degrading Elisa, serves a valuable role for Elisa as she grows stronger.

The culture and world-building of the godstone was well done. My main problem with this book was the idea of the "chosen one" having a gemstone in her belly button. *Snicker snicker* I am apparently not mature enough to get entirely beyond that. But otherwise, I loved how the author took the framework of a familiar religion and imbued it with an entirely different mythology. By the end of the book, I felt familiar with the various kingdoms, politics, and long-standing wars. The reader is in the dark for the first third of the novel about most of the book's religion, culture, and history - but so is Elisa. We learn alongside her.

Girl of Fire and Thorns ends on a strong note. I will say that there is a shocking *shocking* twist near the end. I admire the author for taking that route. The story has a logical conclusion - no big cliff-hanger - but leaves plenty of plot options open for future novels. Elisa finishes the book at the top. She is confident, brave, and ready for more. I can't wait to see where she goes next.

Rating: 4 / 5
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
mpalo
Why I chose this book:
What I expected and what I read were two completely different things where this book was concerned. So many of the book blogs I follow were tripping over themselves with love and adoration for this book. I figured I should read it and judge for myself.

The 4 things you need to know about this book:

1. What is the world like in this book, you ask?
Answer: An odd mixture of various cultures.
A) In most high fantasy novels, the world is based on a fantasy-driven medieval European history; this book is not. Though the culture is based in a quasi-European society it has major influences from the Arabic culture (due to the desert terrain), but it also involves a strong Spanish/Hispanic influence as well. Almost all of the names in this novel are Hispanic names such as Humberto, Alejandro, Rosario, etc. Not only the names, but much of the language found in this book is Spanish. Luckily, I know how to speak Spanish, so that helped translating a couple of words and sentences found in this book.

B) As for the religion in this novel: it has a very warped Christianity, mostly based in Catholicism. It is high on tradition and ceremonies; monks and monasteries are present throughout the novel. Even Homer’s Afflatus (a sacred book that held prophecies about the holder of the Godstone) mimics the writings of Paul the apostle as seen in the Christian faith. Not only that but Homer’s life directly mimics that of Paul’s as well (Carson 179). Speaking of the Godstone, it marks a person as the chosen one, and Elisa is the holder. The way that Carson writes Elisa and her character, and the way the sacred scriptures speak of the chosen one is similar to that of the Christian Jesus. In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, they say “[The Godstone bearer] was led, like a pig to the slaughter” (Carson 181). This is very similar wording when speaking about the coming of the Messiah in the Christian Bible: “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). The similarities, yet very contrasting differences, make me curious just how religious Carson is, and makes me ask the question, why did she use Christianity as the basis for the religion of this series.

2. Elisa’s character: To eat, or not to eat?
Obviously, weight is going to be a large theme in this book. Elisa’s character is over weight, and she is driven by her desire for food (only in the beginning of the novel). This can be a touchy subject for some readers, and an even harder one to tackle as an author. To be honest, I was unsure about how well Carson would be able to grasp this subject, especially since through Elisa’s journey, she loses the weight. To me this wreaked of ‘ugly duckling turned swan’ at the beginning, but as I read, I was able to see that it became less about her weight and more about her believing in herself and becoming the woman she is by the end of the novel. This is what I like to call character development. Kudos to Carson!

3. Writing Style: non-emotional plot-based writing.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is written in first-person POV, and as most of you know, I detest first-person. I would give her more credit for using this point of view if she had written more emotionally. Carson is a very plot-based writer. I never felt a huge draw to any of characters. A number of people died in this book, and I never shed a single tear, nor did my heart do flip-flops (which is something that often happens when I’m attached to characters). The closest I got to that would be my affection for Hector, and he’s not even in half of the novel. She is very direct in conveying what is happening, but it’s almost as though it is written in unbiased format of sorts.

4. Christian theology: A look into the religion of the realm.
Like I mentioned before, there are many undeniable similarities between the religion found in this novel and the Christian religion. I’ve never read a young adult novel that was so deeply steeped in its religion. That was always a subplot in the books I have read, but this one is almost front and center and just as important as Elisa’s character development. However, the importance of the religion also comes with questions, and teenagers today, are asking these same questions that are seen in monastic Christianity.

Such as:
A)The novel talks of both good and evil sides of man (who we view as good guys or bad guys), and realizes that He could have chosen specific people to carry out an evil will in order that His divine(good) will triumph in the end. A restatement: Does God choose evil men to carry out a purpose, so His greater plan can be fulfilled? A heady topic, but a very good question, that some ask today. (This topic is discussed on page 252)

B) They even talk about doctrinal and theological differences and philosophies within the religion. Much like Christianity argues predestination versus free-will, there are two different factions; some that are pro-Godstone and others that are pro-bearer. (Discussed on page 290).

C) Discussed in this book is the idea of interpretation of God’s will. Some believe in a loose interpretations of their holy books, others believe in a literal interpretation (again, much like Christianity); however, that also can lead to misinterpretation of scripture. When this topic was broached (Carson 300), it reminded me a lot of the Crusades. People who wanted to conquer that area, said “God wills it,” and they attacked because “God’s will” was truly “their will.” Much blood was spilled because of this, and it’s the same with this novel.

Final Thoughts:
This is the first book in a series, and also a debut novel. Honestly, it’s a decent debut novel, though I hope in the rest of her books she becomes a better writer and dives more into the emotions of her characters. There was never a point in this novel that I just had to keep reading. Actually it took be about a month to read (which is pretty bad for me; I generally knock out a hard to read book in two or three weeks).

Even though, I wasn’t an adoring fan, I would be interested in reading the rest of this series, but if I had to buy the rest of the books, I would have to think twice about it.

I gave this book 2 stars on my Goodreads.

Check out more of my reviews at ofspectaclesandbooks.com
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sahil
I loved this book so much as well as the rest of the books in the trilogy. I really appreciated how the author twisted several typical YA tropes which made the whole story less predictable and fresh. For example, in most YA series, the "love interest" is established in the first book. In Rae Carson's trilogy, the love interest is slowly developed throughout the entire series and it is definitely not one of the main aspects in the book. I loved the main character. She wasn't stunning and beautiful and perfect...she was a real person who was overweight and average looking (and who lost a bunch of weight but only due to walking miles and miles through the desert several times) and even after her weight loss, she wasn't suddenly the most beautiful creature ever. She was real. I cared about the characters and I felt as though I was with them through their entire journey. I cannot recommend this book enough!
The Assassin's Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas :: Caraval :: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass) :: Three Dark Crowns :: Blood Oath (The Darkest Drae Book 1)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
caroline burau
There are already a few critical reviews for this book which touch on the summary of the story, so I will not include that part, and instead list for you the primary reasons I did not enjoy this book.

1. I am an overweight girl myself, but never in my life have I referred to myself as a 'fat sausage'. I do understand there are people out there with self image and self esteem issues, and I would love for them to have a big-girl role model that learns that being happy with yourself comes first, and then the drive to change your appearance comes second. The drive to change is, and should be, a direct result of self esteem and the belief that 'you are worth it'. To accomplish anything you have to lift yourself up, not put yourself down. Unfortunately, the physical transformation of this character from fat to skinny is the only reason she changed her opinion of herself, and that physical transformation was forced upon her - not through any drive or desire of her own. That is not good enough for me. Frankly, it irritates me, and every time I read the words "fat sausage" or read about how the main character was uncomfortable in her own skin (everything from sweat to eating compulsively) I was just more irritated. This is likely what stopped me from liking the rest of the book.

2. If the book is supposed to be about a strong female heroine, then I want a STRONG female heroine (see number one where this heroine is whiny with massive self esteem issues - she is not self assure, independent, or any other version of "strong"). If the only reason confidence is built is due to a physical transformation, then there are still mental issues going on in a person's core, and those issues still need to be addressed. Regardless of later transformation of the character, I could not get over her sniveling from the start, and I was not satisfied that her mental state genuinely changed; it just seemed to change because of her change in weight.

3. I am not avidly religious, but I can, and have, enjoyed books with religious theme. This book almost seemed to imply that the main character could not reach religious fulfillment unless she had resolved all of her own issues first. This is a strange concept, since it seems to imply that the character was not worthy of divine assistance until she was in a good place (attractive, confident, etc.). I was under the impression that the divine helps you regardless of your current state, and especially when you are low or down and out. Throughout the book the character couldn't access her powers, and it was even mentioned that she was a late bloomer to those powers. By the end of the book it seemed she couldn't access those powers because she was not "perfect," and until she became perfect (through her physical/mental transformations) she wasn't worthy of divine assistance. This didn't set well with me either.

Overall, I clearly didn't like the book - everything from its writing style (which was confusing for someone who doesn't speak Spanish), to the derogatory feelings the primary character has about herself, to the unsatisfying way the book was concluded was disappointing.

This book seems to be reaching a lot of people, and has an overwhelming number of positive reviews, which is why I picked it up in the first place. I am writing this review so that if any of my above reasons for disliking the book strikes you as something you would find frustrating in a book, then I wouldn't recommend you get this one. If the sheer number of positive reviews is still swaying you toward this book, I would recommend you download the sample from the store first. It gives you a pretty good look into what to expect, and then you can judge yourself from the sample if this book would be a good read for you.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kerfe
Full disclosure: I did not finish this book.

Things I liked: That Elisa was not the typical pure-skinned, beautiful, thin girl. A fantasy world with political struggles amidst a larger war.

Things I didn't like: The pedestrian writing, which in turn led to a slow pace and characters I was unable to connect with. The constant religious presence. I like characters whose faith is an integral part of their character in a subtle yet powerful way. This was more like the author wanted to hit you over the head with the God-hammer. The fact that Elisa gains confidence immediately upon losing weight was disappointing. I wish Carson would have followed through with keeping her an atypical heroine that gains confidence overtime. Elisa somehow trusting and even supporting the people who kidnapped her actually made me lose respect for her character. It didn't seem brave or heroic, just stupid, especially for a girl who inexplicably understands war tactics. Finally, I didn't like the lack of context for the war leading Elisa to be married off for an alliance. I wasn't sure why these countries were at war (even the characters admit they're not sure why) because very little background is given. I didn't even get a standard good versus evil feel to the conflict.

I had to stop reading about half-way through when Elisa realized she had to stay warm in the desert by praying so her belly button Godstone would heat up. It was so ridiculous, and I hadn't grown attached to the characters or their stories by that point, so I had to move on to other books. The religious theme to this book may work for some people, but it just wasn't for me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
david hackman
Well, that was...a little tiny bit disappointing.

I think that fact that I could've even got myself to FINISH the book should say a lot.

This is a perfect example of an overrated book. This book has the content of one of those self-published books (the bad ones) and is only popular not because it's really good, but because it's legitimately published by a publishing company.

Don't get me wrong, this book...was enjoyable. And definitely not the worse out there. Elisa was definitely a pleasant character, and it is a complicated high-fantasy magical world. And this book had one thing that was pleasantly unique: the protagonist is an overweight girl.

One thing that really came as a downside from me is that I forgot where, but I remember I wanted to read this book because they said this book is a book where the heroine fell in love and ended up with the 'unexpected later-on-appeared-guy'.

But even though that appeared to be true (I spoiled myself because I do not want to waste my time), I already encountered this character, and I already know that...I don't really ship them...

And it's because of that I didn't finish this book. (Which I feel guilty for because the library bought the entire series for me, and now I'm not going to finish it). It's also because of that I'm only giving this book three stars. It doesn't make sense if I don't finish it and still give it to anything above three stars

So overall this book is definitely congenial for my fantasy taste, but I do think it's overrated, so ultimately I'll only give it three stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
satadru
I was in a reading slump and this book pulled me out and for that I’m grateful. There’s already loads of reviews so I’ll keep mine very short.

I struggled initially because this book particularly early on seemed obsessed with weight and food.
Elisa is fat.

“I am a sausage,” I gasp. “A big, bloated sausage in a white silk casing.” I want to cry. Or laugh. It’s hard to decide.

Weight and food took up far too many pages for me but it paled in comparison to God.
God is mentioned about 100 times and there’s a lot whole of praying in this book. But then we knew from the first paragraph that would be the case.

‘PRAYER candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying—no, begging—that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat.’

But despite the religion, the weight and the food I was hooked to this book. I’m moving straight onto The Crown of Embers next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angus nelson
I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.
Elisa is the second daughter of the king. She loves food and has no interest in courtly affairs. Except she is also the bearer of the godstone, a jewel embedded in her belly since her naming day. At sixteen she is mysteriously and quickly married off to Alejandro, the king of a country that is nothing like her own.  This is the beginning of her story and of a journey that will take her to the lands of her enemy and into the path of people that will come to matter to her deeply.  The country is on the brink of war, the king and Elisa’s husband appears unable to act, unable to make a decision. Soon Elisa is thrown into a destiny that will cause her to dig deeper than she’s ever had to before and become a person that people depend on to become a hero.

                I really wish that I had read this when I originally received it for review. I thoroughly, and unexpectedly, love this story. Though other people can see a strength in her, she slowly realizes that she is stronger than she ever thought that she could be.

One of the main reasons that I love this book is that Elisa is not your typical princess. She is fat, loves food and is not afraid to say so. She is very much aware of her flaws, but she doesn’t let that keep her from doing what she believes needs to be done. While everyone else is sure that they are doing god’s will, she is honest about not knowing what that is for her and for her band of friends. She overcomes her fear and impossible situations by seeking out the truth and history of the godstones.

When she is kidnapped by people who are only trying to save themselves, she does something extraordinary. She forgives them and joins their cause. It isn’t because she feels sorry or that she suffers from Stockholm syndrome or anything like that. She does so because she believes that it’s the right thing to do. Again,and again Elisa is put in positions that are dangerous and well out of her comfort. And each time when it would be so much easier to give up and surrender, she leans on her faith and stands up to the obstacle.  This story is peppered with characters who are impressively strong, passionate and more than capable.  I could go on and on about how amazing this book is, and I would still not do it justice. If you are looking for a story that has a more realistic character pulling you through, a story with a nice blend of mystery and adventure, I cannot recommend this one enough. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
riann
The Girl of Fire and Thorns tells the story of Elisa who is born as the Chosen one. The Chosen is born to lead their people against evil. At her baptism she is bathed in a bright light and blessed with a god stone embedded in her naval. This godstone has magical powers that she will use to save her people. Or at least that is the legend. When we meet Elisa, she is an insecure, nervous wreck. She has been kept sheltered from the reality that she was born to, spending her days reading scripture and eating sweets. As with most royals she is sacrificed into marriage to a man quite a bit older than she, and at the age of sixteen shipped off to his kingdom to live away from everything she’s known. This begins her journey of self discovery. Through this new life, the dangers she faces and friendships she makes, she unwittingly becomes the Chosen one worthy of all of the legends.

The Elisa we met at the beginning of this book was hard to read. I think we all have that fearful, insecure person inside of us and maybe I saw something within her that I outgrew myself. I knew that she had to shed that persona to grow and become, and I was impatient for that to happen. So for me, the beginning of this book was a bit slow. The language Rae Carson uses to describe Elisa’s spirituality is so lyrical and lovely that it soothed me, almost to sleep! However, I was intrigued by this girl who had a godlike stone that she didn’t have a clue how to use to fight an evil that could conquer and take over her world. After a third of the book, the action kicked in and Elisa started to show her intelligence and kickassness. At that point I was hooked. Rae Carson threw out that line and caught me.

The style of writing used to tell this spiritual and physical journey is truly gorgeous. Ms. Carson spoke in words as colorful as the most beautiful stained glass windows. If you are patient I think you too will be captured by its beauty.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
c c mackenzie
Thanks goodness for THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. With the exception of Garth Nix's LIRAEL, I'd been in a reading slump since the beginning of the year. So I figured it was time to go back to an author whose first two books I had read (the first two books in her Gold Seer Trilogy) and had brought me unadulterated joy.

Well, it happened again here. :) THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS shows that Rae Carson's world-building, writing, and character "designing" skills were just as strong in this (her debut) series as they are in her current one. The Spanish, Bastille, and Mediterranean flavors of the story's setting make it truly unique, influencing the languages, names, foods, dwellings, clothing, and religion. Elisa is wonderfully realistic, a smart and caring girl who is braver than she realizes and learns to see her true worth. Her relationship with her body image plays an important part in her growth, too - another reason why this story stands out from other YA fantasies I've read to date.

What else? The supporting characters are well-rounded for the most part. I loved the loyal and protective Humberto and Elisa's handmaiden Ximena, and was pleased to watch the standoffish Cosme warm up to Elisa. And the plot was steadily paced and full of twists and intrigue. If I had to nitpick anything, it's that Elisa's narrative "voice" isn't as distinct as Leah's is in the Gold Seer Trilogy. But that doesn't change how thoroughly I enjoyed THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, and how badly I want to read the rest of its series now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
annie chubbuck
It took me so long to pick this book up! I’ve been hearing incredible things about it for over a year and yet somehow, I’ve always put it aside when picking what to read. While I was expecting this to be a solid YA fantasy novel, I have to say that it surpassed all of my expectations.

There were several aspects of this story that really stayed with me. Specific things that made this book different and unique and which -in my opinion- should be featured in more books. First of all, the main character’s physical appearance. For once, we have a heroine who doesn’t look like a model. You know what I mean! In so many novels -no matter which genre it is- the female main character is tall, slim with beautiful hair, striking eyes and gorgeous face. The girls that would make people stare when they pass by on the street. And let’s be honest, most actual people are NOT models. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be beautiful either or heroines. I’m going to stop talking about this now because I have a feeling I’ll go on for ages. What I am trying to say is that the main character’s appearance isn’t flawless. She sees herself as overweight and attractive -something other people comment on as well, how RUDE- and she feels incapable of fulfilling her destiny.

The second aspect I enjoyed a lot was that the culture and world in this book was -I think- influenced a lot by Spanish or South-American cultures and languages. I absolutely loved it! It’s just so different than most other books and it honestly made me happy to read about. It’s most noticeable in the names of characters, cities and the languages they refer to!

Let’s talk about the characters for a bit. First we have Lucero-Elisa, who actually just goes by Elisa, our main character. Elisa was chosen at her baptism by God. Every century, one person gets chosen to fulfill some great destiny. Each of them were gifted a godstone which is a sort of jewel that’s lodged in her belly button. What’s special about this stone however is that it sort of lives? It warms when Elisa prays and turns ice cold when she is in danger. Isn’t that fascinating? I absolutely loved learning about it! Elisa is very insecure. She doesn’t believe that she’ll be able to fulfill the destiny meant for her by the godstone. She feels lesser than her older sister, who will become queen later on, and has quite some trouble with her self-confidence and appearance. It made her feel so real to me. I struggle with most of the same things -aside of course from the destiny given by God- and it was so refreshing to read about. While she is very insecure, she turns into such a heroine! Her character development throughout this book is phenomenal. But still believable. It’s not like she was an insecure princess who is a little bit overweight one day, and a confident woman the next. Her journey is long and very hard on her but she grows so much because of it. I adored her.

The next character I want to talk about is King Alejandro de Vega. I do not like you. I really don’t. When I was first introduced to him, I thought he was so kind and he seemed like a good king. I won’t tell you too much about him because it’s sort of a spoiler but just know that for most of the book I was disappointed in him. Not in the way the author wrote him, that was brilliant, but in the person he was. There was another character that I absolutely loved, he is probably my second-favorite character of the book. I won’t tell you about that person though, because major spoiler alert. And Elisa’s family, while not very prominent in the story, is quite interesting as well. There’s her sister, who Elisa feels disconnected with and her father, who loves her but is the kind of man that doesn’t really show it. There are so many more important characters but I obviously can’t talk about all of them.

Then there was the religion. This book definitely focused on that because of Elisa and her godstone. But even this aspect was very well thought out. We sort of get to discover more about it along with Elisa. There are different ideologies in the different countries with respect to the bearer of the godstone and I just loved it. Every little aspect of this book was intriguing in my opinion.

The plot of this book was, like Bilbo Baggins would have said “an unexpected journey”. When I started this book, I didn’t know it would encompass so much! It was so intricate. Elisa really had an adventure. So much happened -like this book breaking my heart- and it was incredible to read about.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend this book. It’s a YA fantasy with many different aspects to it and a captivating journey. I will continue on with the trilogy, I just need to know what will happen next!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alaa sayed
I started the series because I was interested in what was being put on the shelves, by the local libraries, for young adult readers to take home. I was, as were other readers, surprised at the promulgation of fat girl rhetoric. The self-loathing the author instilled in the protagonist, was an interesting approach. I waited for the life-affirming process the girl would go through, where she realized she wanted to be healthy, and change herself for that reason alone. Instead the whole fat-shaming issues, most obese people come to understand very well, became tiring and even tedious. The continual references, in first person, where the young princess embraces gluttony as a part of who she is, became increasingly disturbing with each reiteration. The repeated admission by the protagonist that she is not only inferior to her slim and graceful sister, but that she is deservedly so, is to put it bluntly, appalling.
Suffice it to say, the princess never comes to a point where she addresses, on her own accord, why she embraces these feelings of self-loathing and shame, nor why she eats to the point of vomiting. I won't spoil the story with any further disclosures of the plot. This is my main complaint and I won't belabor it further. However I would find it hard to recommend this book as a truly strong female character. She spends a great deal of the story being victimized, and reacting as a victim because she feels she deserves to be treated this way due to her being fat.
Despite the above, I am reading the second title in this series, and the princess is slowly becoming the strong character we were promised. The editing is better and the plot is good in the second book, as well.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
melissa lacassin
To be blunt, I have mixed feelings about The Girl of Fire and Thorns. On one hand, the story line was well-paced and somewhat original. On the other hand, the lore and thematic scope of the prose was so jarring I found it difficult to concentrate on the story or characters at all! I ended the book quite exasperated and slightly disappointed with the lack of meat and depth, to say the least; yeah, this one was just okay for me.
___________________________________
WHAT I LIKED
+ The introduction proved to be the most intriguing aspect of the story for me as it set the stage and with the story being fairly fast and moderately entertaining it worked! We have an arranged marriage that results in a disjointed political debacle, we have a protagonist who is “flawed” so to speak? and some magical elements that peppered the story with intrigue and lure.

+ Rae Carson truly has a way with words and manages to thread the reader along with her unique storytelling. The world she has conceived in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of pure dreamscape no less and this is no small feat!

THINGS THAT MADE GO HMMM. . .
- To be frank, on the subject of Elisa and her “flawed” attributes ― those being her self-esteem issues with her overweight dilemma, was the most aggravating for me because I felt it lacked sorely in depth and heart. Nevertheless, Elisa is “the chosen one” so we follow her story as she discovers her personal strengths through a series of events that are far grander than they actually pan out to be. What’s more, I found I was rooting for her, but simultaneously shunning her advancements. Clearly, these mixed emotions lend themselves to the typical “girl-falls-in-love-with-the-kidnapper” element that is found in most YA fiction. Why authors choose to place teenage girls in such inconceivable plights is beyond me I didn’t connect with Elisa either, but I did feel she handled many of the situations she encountered with stride. There are so many other issues of flawed logic in Elisa’s character arc too, but to delve any deeper on this subject would require we step into spoiler territory so I’ll just leave it at that

- Whilst some magical elements that peppered the story with intrigue and lure did manage to hold my attention, all of this promise went wayward when the book subtly threw in gawky humorous lines, a jarring romantic plotline, a sorely underdeveloped antagonist and absurd religious tropes that were difficult to swallow. In fact, mind-boggling is the real key word for The Girl of Fire and Thorns as (more often than not) I found myself dumbfounded and wondering if the book was Christian fiction. Granted, I’ve read heaps of Christian fiction, but yet none of the fictional Christian books I’ve read doused themselves in so much religious angst and jargon.

AFTERTHOUGHTS
I really wanted to like this book as it came highly recommended; unfortunately, however, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a sad miss. It isn’t so much that Rae Carson delivers a terrible prose; in fact, the premise holds merit! It was just overshadowed by exaggerated religious tropes that felt awfully bizarre. Take it or leave it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suziqoregon
I'll start by saying that by the end of this book, I loved it! The beginning seemed like a different story, but it followed the main character's growth very well-starting with less depth and increasing with her depth, strength and courage. I love that the main character was not skinny/curvy/hot. At the beginning, I thought it might be just the main character didn't realize how she looked (self unaware girl actually hot, which has been played out a lot) but this was so much better! I wish she hadn't lost the weight but loved herself anyway, but I guess a long trek through the desert with limited food would have to trim you down. Anyway, she was everything you'd want- courageous, a great leader, smart! A great role model. The story moves quickly and keeps you caught up in it. I'm very curious to see where these characters go and how they continue to grow and evolve!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
andrea thatcher
I wanted to have some fantasy in my book life, so I picked up this baby here. I'm glad I did because I had heard so much about it, and I wanted to know what all of the hubbub was about.
First off, I loved the idea behind the story. Not the Godstone part, but the idea that a princess is going off to marry a handsome king and become something much more than just a royal with a crown. However, I feel like the storyline could have been done better. I was all for Elisa being a bigger girl, heck I'm a bigger girl, and I like having a normal non-size zero in my stories, but Carson overdid it. Elisa was constantly thinking about food. She compared everything to pastries and just wouldn't stop talking about sweets and meat and more! Larger people don't think about things in terms of food.

Another thing that bothered me was how Elisa kept going on and on about her largeness. Like I wrote earlier, I'm a bigger girl. I understand Elisa's self-consciousness, BUT she wouldn't stop complaining about it.

The side characters of the story were enjoyable, but I didn't feel myself loving them. Rosario was probably the cutest one, and even then he kind of angered me at points. Humberto and Hector were my favorite characters, Hector more so, they were much more realistic than the other ones, or perhaps Carson just gave them better depth.

My biggest pet peeve with the story was the religious ideal. I had no idea that this story would be centered so much around religion. I'm not a big fan of reading about it in general, and this story is full of it. If I had known that, I probably wouldn't have requested it for review. I couldn't understand how Carson created this unique fantasy land, but she couldn't create a god/goddess who wasn't already provided from real life.

All in all, I'm a little disappointed with this read. It wasn't bad, but I don't really recommend it to anyone who wants an action-packed fantasy read.

3/5 stars

*Note: I received a copy of this book to review from Netgalley. This in no way altered my opinion/review.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jeremy johnson
This is the first book in the series. Elisa is a princess on the cusp of her 16th birthday. Her sister has been raised to rule the kingdom, while Elisa holds the Godstone, a divine gift at birth. It marks her as the chosen of the generation, although no one knows what her task may be. She is to be married in a political alliance. Her prince, while kind, shows little attraction to a heavyset, shy, awkward girl. As she journeys to her new home, her sister warns her to only place full trust in her companions. An ambush along the way, reveals that her companions have more skills than she ever would have expected and she surprises herself with her own fortitude. Elissa must deal with prejudice and is shocked by what is hidden about her relationship with the prince. The story takes a dramatic turn with a kidnapping, and Elisa begins her transformation and her journey to understand her purpose, using her mind and her knowledge of strategy to her advantage while she seeks out information about the Godstones and their bearers. This first installment has a lot of world building to do and the plot and characterization can suffer from time to time. The concept is interesting, so I will see where the story goes in the next book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
phillip dite
Summary: A fearful sixteen year old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic.

Some Spoilers

I gave this book three stars because to me it felt slow paced. There was a lot of traveling and time passing. And it still felt like Elisa didn't know the people she was with, even after spending a month together in the desert. What I did understand was her low self-esteem. She felt fat, and eating made her feel better. Everyone treated her like a small kid, kept her in the dark, about who she really was and what she's meant to do, but they had no problem marrying her off to a stranger.

That's another thing I didn't like. How Alejandro treated her, he kept her a secret, didn't tell her why she was there, had a mistress, and didn't even treat her like a good friend. There really was nothing there. I just didn't like how people knew things but chose to not say anything.

Anyway,, there was a lot of traveling, and planning, there were moments that were suspenseful, you didn't know what to expect. I wasn't really okay with the kidnapping, she accepted it too quickly, but yeah I guess she couldn't really do anything since she was in the desert, she would've just died if she tried to escape.

I did grow to like some of the characters. And I did like how Elisa grew to be a braver more confident person, to me she didn't have to lose weight, I just like reading about strong, brave girls, it just makes you root for them. Elisa became a leader, that's when I started to really enjoy the book. She got a group of people, spread the word about them, The Malficio, ordered people around. She survived being captured again and even killed one of the sorceress that are out to find and kill her. She had to make choices she never thought she needed to do.

I liked the ending, very surprising and unexpected. A lot of people died, people you didn't even think would. I was shocked when the guys died, so sad how one of them died with was out of no where. And the other just never woke up :( I was surprised that the author would do that, you usually get happy endings, No Elisa stands alone, wow. But I do think it was a good ending, different. We learn what happens to the other characters and it felt right, but of course that's not where this story ends, I'm not sure what will happen next but I'm interesting in learning more about Hector :)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
suzanne gert
This story was so good that I was almost crying by the end!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns' heroine is Princess Elisa, the second daughter of a king. She faces ridicule and weird treatment from her sister and others due to her being considered "overweight" and her mother dying after her birth. In addition, she was also chosen to bear the Godstone in her navel, which only happens once every century. This means that Elisa has been chosen to complete an act of service for humankind. At sixteen, she is married off to the King of the neighboring country, who is about to fight a dangerous enemy. Due to her chosen status, a lot is expected of Elisa but Elisa is not sure how she will fulfill this.

I loved Elisa's character and watching her grow as the story progresses. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy or a story where a girl can rescue herself and be the hero!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tara torres
I wanted to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns because I had read so many good reviews about it. I avoided it at first because it sounded like the fantasy might be rooted pretty firmly in the political aspect and that is something that is often over my head in high fantasy. But I read several who are like me and still adored it, so decided to give it a go.

I liked Elisa immediately. The story starts on her 16th birthday and she is about to marry a king who she has never met. She tries to convince herself that he will be ugly, both to calm her nerves and to make herself dread it just a little bit less. That is a sense of her voice and narration, and it suited me well. I also liked that she was close with her ladies/servants. They mean more to her than just advice, or help getting ready, they are like another part of her family, ones that she trusts and confides in, who both try to make her see just how special she is.

The king Alejandro isn't bad, but I did balk at him keeping the marriage a secret once he gets back home. Given, they are attacked while traveling back to his kingdom. But still. I did appreciate that he didn't force intimacy and that he levels with her when she asks what he wants from her and he says a friend.

Elisa gets stronger, and realizes more about herself as the book progresses. She works with the religious leader to learn about the origins of her Godstone and prophecies. She is getting mixed in the politics, and trying to represent her home country and brings her expertise from studying war and religion texts in depth.

There was a set of characters that really surprised me. They were set up as the bad guys for a while, but the more time she spent with them, she learned about their beliefs and their motivations, and couldn't help but sympathize. Trust and respect was built between her and them, and really set some things in motion for the ending and into the next book. One of them died though, and it really threw me because I wasn't expecting it, and thought that it might have set up as more of a love triangle.

I def will be continuing with this series and am glad I gave it a try.

Bottom Line: Unlikely heroine and great cast of secondary characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maura wenger
10429092
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson

Goodreads / the store
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.
Travel Companion:

If we traveled with the main character Elisa, she would be:
The Food Critic

She would be the one to go to the high-end restaurants and critique their food. She would be well-known for her reviews and kindness. She would lend a hand to nonprofit organizations, flying to Third-World countries and helping the children there to become independent and
stronger.
We would meet her in an airport. She would be heading off to another flight. We would bump into each other, and she would help us up. We would recognize her, knowing about her through her fame as a food critic, and invite her to go to Italy with us. She would join us because she would want to taste the food and see the cities of the world.

Elisa annoyed me at first. She was pampered. She cared about food and how people saw her more than anything else. She cared about how much her husband cared for her, and she felt rejection when he didn't seem to care. I felt like she was a bit...shallow. She didn't know about the world, but she didn't care. To her, everything was about being the bearer for the Godstone and fulfilling her destiny. Her character in the beginning annoyed
me. I know I might not be defining Elisa accurately, but that's how I saw her.
But she changed. She shed her old personality and became the strong heroine. She gained strength and independence. She didn't have to be protected by her father or sister anymore. She could be left on her own and survive.
She became the hero this world needed.
She could stand on her own two feet. She knew her limits, but she also knew how powerful she was. She used her knowledge as a sword and wielded it with strength. I admired her character in the end. She became someone I could admire. Her change was amazing. The desert trip took its toll on her, but it also gave her the power to believe in herself.
Elisa gained the power of self-respect.

The Adventure Begins (And Ends):

The plot for the first part was dull. Boring. I had to force myself to read it. It was slow.
The beginning was mostly comprised of Elisa doubting herself and yearning for Alejandro's attention. She acted like a needy child. It was around this time when I was prepared to DNF (did not finish) this book. (And I RARELY DNF a book.) It was tiresome to read. I was yearning for some drama, some action! I can't survive on palace chatter alone!

Then, when part two came around, things became interesting. The kidnapping jumpstarted so much more. The plot turned to action. Elisa had to fight to save herself. She had to defend herself. It had more action. It had more drama. Elisa had a purpose, and she was determined to go through it. And when the Malficio showed up, well...things got crazy. The attacks. Sting and retreat to live to sting again! An amazing concept. The
Malficio really did their job.
And Elisa went through more. She gained depth to her character. Loss fueled her rage. She protected the desert people in her own way. She used her cunning as an advantage and her Godstone as leverage. She fought and won. A victorious general.
The ending had the most tension. I clung to my phone, worrying.
How will Elisa survive? How will she defeat the enemy?
Will the enemy win? Who will survive? Who will be killed? The ending had action and surprising twists.

I'll Wait For You At the Gate:

There was one thing I noticed with the romance. It seemed rushed. They barely knew each other for a year. Unless the time in the book passed quicker than I thought...which that could be true. There didn't seem to be many scenes for the romance to build up. The romance seemed unexpected and uncalled for. There was nothing building it up. If we saw things from Humberto's eyes, that would be a different story. Elisa didn't SEE anything, though, so WE didn't see anything. Humberto seemed to harbor feelings for Elisa while she saw him as a place of comfort and friendship.
I didn't like the romance. Elisa didn't NEED a guy. She didn't need a savior. She could protect herself.

She needed Humberto for protection at the beginning, when she trekked through the desert. As time wore on, she needed his protection less and less as she grew stronger. Near the end he was just a kind soul who cared for her.
And what happened to Humberto...oh god. There was no reason for that to happen. We barely met the guy but still. Elisa cared about him. I know that it fueled Elisa's rage, but that doesn't mean you have the permission to do things like that. I was shocked when I read it. I just couldn't believe it. I was confused for a long time after reading those lines.
Perks and Upgrades:

N/A
You Have Arrived at Your Destination:

The ending was pretty great. It showcased Elisa as this strong and determined woman. She was a heroine. She was the true hero. No one could hold her back. She wasn’t invincible, but she was still very powerful.
The ending had action. Furious attacks. Anger. Protection. So many emotions swirled about in me when I read the last few chapters. Confusion. Anger. Tension. Excitement. Would they survive? How? Who would die next? Who will survive? What will Elisa do next?
I felt like the book could have been a standalone.
The plot started to wind down as if it was headed to the end of Elisa’s story. I didn't have many questions left. (Except this one: 'Why did everyone have to die?') I was expecting the ending. (Even though I know this was a trilogy.)
The last two paragraphs denied it. The last two paragraphs created the need for a sequel. Without them, this would have been a great standalone. I honestly would have preferred this book as a standalone. I don’t need more series to read. Overall, it wasn't that bad. Elisa's character change was great. It was the thing I liked the most about this book. The plot was boring at first, but it became better. The romance was a bit uncalled for.
It seemed rushed and sudden. The ending could have sealed the deal, but we had
to have a sequel. (Sigh…)
This book was pretty amazing. I had certain things I didn’t like, but those are a given for any book. Not bad, Rae Carson, not bad at all.

Rating:

4/5
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
victoria carter
http://larmstrong73.blogspot.com

I found the parallels to Christianity an interesting premise for the story, but it often felt like a cheap imitation.

I liked that the protagonist was not your standard, cliched princess. Though I found her eating disorder/food obsession to range from annoying to disturbing, I also thought it added a layer of authenticity to her character. I was happy when it faded to a soft background hum.

The violence and deaths of some key characters surprised me, because YA novels don't usually allow that element of reality, at least not until the very end. Some of those scenes were a little graphic for my taste.

But the thing that bothered me the most was the promotion of cheating. I don't believe in divorce, and I don't believe in justifying seeking out another relationship while you are married.

*spoilers*
I don't care that they didn't consummate the marriage yet, that he likely had a mistress before they married, or that they had spent very little time together before she was taken away. She pledged herself before God to this man for her life. If she wanted to seek an annulment or divorce based on grounds of his prior relationship, then fine, but she shouldn't be starting anything until that is settled. It ended up being a moot point anyway, because of how the storyline progressed, but it struck me forcibly that this kind of attitude promotes cheating and divorce, breaking up marriages and families. A young girl reading this book takes away that her feelings and love and happiness matter more than anything or anyone else, that she can't help how she feels, and that she should pursue someone she loves at any cost. Not only are all of these statements false, but they lead to destruction. These ideas are all too common in YA novels, but it was made worse by its strong association to the pseudo-christianity themes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
evaline
As I'm writing this review I noticed that this is the first time I'm at a loss for words about a book. I don't know where to begin about this novel except by listing the things I loved about it.

Character development was the best if not the strongest aspect of this novel. The main character Elisa goes from this insecure and unsure little girl to a powerful and strong woman. It was just truly amazing to see her change from someone who loathed themselves to someone who had pride in who they were. It's so difficult to find such powerful characterization in young adult literature, a book where the reader gets the opportunity to grow and change the main character.

The next best thing about this book was definitely the plot. It was fast paced and contained some really interesting elements including those related to the godstone. I did not expect so many complications to arise from such a small stone in Elisa's navel. By putting so much responsibility on the bearer of the stone, Carson created many diverse elements including the creation of the Inviernos. Even the world building is complex. There are so many different kingdoms and sects of people that the reader is introduced to these new cultures and manners of living. These different kingdoms clash and also work together when the time is necessary and I truly enjoyed that. No aspect of this story, more specifically the plot, proved to be boring. It was a page-turner that ultimately left me wanting more.

The only aspect of this book that I found boring was Alejandro's character. He was weak and proved to be somewhat of a coward until the very end. Although I think his character was necessary in forcing Elisa to become more confident in herself and her ability to rule, I was particularly annoyed every time I read a scene in which he was present.

Fair warning to all who read this series. Rae Carson shows no mercy and does not hold back from her ability to pick and choose who she wants too live and who she wants to die. I found myself getting extremely attached to characters only to lose them. I realize that it's all necessary for the advancement of the plot, but it was definitely unpredictable.

This book was absolutely mesmerizing and beautifully written. If you are interested in young adult fantasy I would definitely give this trilogy a try.

This review was posted on my website at[...]
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
raven emrys
The enigmatic nation of Invierne is menacing the borders of both its neighbours, vast Joya d'Arena and its former vassal state of Orovalle. The two kingdoms have allied together against this threat through a marriage pact, with King Alejandor wedding Princess Elisa of Orovalle. This simple alliance is strengthened by the fact that Elisa is the bearer, the wielder of the Godstone. For two thousand years the bearers have performed great acts of bravery and heroism against the forces of evil.

However, Elisa is no hero. Pampered and overweight, she doubts her holy mission. But the boiling deserts of Joya d'Arena will prove her testing ground as she struggle to unlock the secrets of the Godstone, and those of the bearers who came before her.

Fire and Thorns (published as The Girl of Fire and Thorns in the USA) has the whiff of the standard fantasy epic to it. It's the opening volume of a trilogy, it features a callow young protagonist who grows into their destiny as the book unfolds and it's set in a fictional world. That said, it does feature a (relatively) uncommon setting, influenced heavily by Moorish Spain, and there is no map (somewhat irritatingly, as the book does feature some fairly intricate geography which the vague descriptions in the book don't really help establish).

The book is told in the first person by Elisa, who makes for an engaging protagonist. Much has been made by readers about the fact that Elisa is overweight when the book begins and that the author raises the issues of body image and confidence issues and explores them in an interesting manner. This much is true, although there has also been criticism of the fact that as Elisa transforms from callow youth to badass warrior queen she also drops the weight, which seems to be suggesting that overweight people can't be confident and strong rulers in their own right. This is a slightly problematic issue, although I think it's more a reflection of the fact that the story takes our heroine across burning deserts and through thick jungles on months-long journeys where it is implausible she wouldn't get fitter (unlike a certain other author's character called Samwell Tarly, cough). Still, the author does manage to raise and explore the issue without overburdening the book with it.

Fire and Thorns is in YA territory. There is no overt sex or swearing, and the violence is somewhat mild, although several major characters are killed in a rather offhand manner. There is the threat of gushing romance, but it never really materialises (somewhat thankfully) as the war and action storylines take prominence. More disappointingly, there is some very solid set-up done for some promising political intrigue which never really materialises. The resolution of the political plot is in fact rather disappointingly pat and convenient. However, there are some solid twists in the magical storyline, as Elisa uncovers the history of the Godstones and discovers their true purpose.

Caron writes engagingly, making Fire and Thorns (***½) a fast, easy and, despite the aforementioned issues, enjoyable read. Those looking for something dark and gritty best look elsewhere, but for a lightweight, easy-to-read fantasy this is more entertaining than most. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
uma maheswari s
I, like many other reviewers, did find it rather tasteless that Elisa wasn't worth anything until she lost weight. This is not a book about a fat heroine who can do anything. This is a book about an ex-fat semi-heroine who, once she loses weight, people begin to listen to her, respect her, take direction from her. No one cares about her when she's fat and all she does it eat. We get it. The plot was different. A little weird as well. It didn't flow very well. Time and distance didn't really make sense. I found Elisa to be very annoying. But hey oh, no real love triangle! Win. I feel like every idea Elisa came up with, just worked out perfectly! Very tidy. Too tidy. And the deaths were kind of...not necessary and without much explanation. Like "Oh I'm done with you. Umm...you die. Yay!" The book was alright. I'll probably read the second one, since I've already got it on hold at the library. We'll see what happens.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
anne cupero
I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns but it was just okay for me. I originally rated it 4 stars but after thinking about it a little more I changed it to a 3. This is one of those books that I feel could have been epic but there was just some things I didn’t like all that much.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns follows Elisa in a society of magic with Hispanic elements. This book had a ton of diversity to it so I thought that was interesting and different for YA! 16 year old Elisa is a princess, and her father marries her off for political reasons. Elisa is destined to do great things because she is one of the bearers of the Godstone, which is rare and only happens every 100 years or so (it may be more I’m not sure). But unlike her sister, she has insecurities and flaws that she has to work through. She is overweight (she loves pastries!), and she is not good when it comes to dealing with political matters. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is kind of a coming of age story because Elisa has to find her place in the world when she travels to the new kingdom after getting secretly married.

The book has a lot of religious elements to it. Elisa was praying a lot throughout the book, and there is a ton of talk about God and destiny. I didn’t mind it much because it wasn’t trying to sway opinions or anything, but it is a strong part of the plot though. While I liked how Elisa wasn’t your typical cookie cutter YA main character, I think that there was way too much emphasis put on food. I felt like every few pages she was either eating something or just thinking about food. It seemed like it going to be something really different but I ended up getting tired of reading about her relationship with food. That and I was not feeling this Godstone placed literally in the belly button story.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is definitely not my favorite YA fantasy book, I thought it was just okay. It held my interest enough to want to know what was going to happen, but I was just feeling pretty meh about it until the last bit. I have to say Elisa’s character goes through some major character development by the end which is a huge plus! After walking through the desert for weeks, she loses a lot of weight and it turns her character around. I think I’d pick up book two in the series just for this reason. I think if you love fantasy and don’t mind a character starting off very weak and insecure, but by the end they have completely changed into a stronger character then this one is for you. Personally, I enjoy reading about characters who are strong from the beginning.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary richardson
Oh, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, how I have loved thee.

What makes this book just so different from anything else I have ever read is the religious aspect. Elisa’s whole life centers on her being the bearer of the Godstone – a stone that appeared in her navel from a ray of light on her name day. Now, this all might sound a little strange, but believe me when I tell you that the way Elisa’s religion and status as bearer weaves its way through this story is truly remarkable. From the history of Godstone bearers to different forms of her religion, Carson masterfully created a believable and well thought out religion on which Elisa’s society was built.

And that brings us to Elisa. There’s something so wonderful about how Carson jumps right into the insecure mind of our main character, Elisa, from the very first page of this book. At the start, we know that Elisa is a young and coddled princess, but she grows tremendously by the end of the book. Elisa is so different from main characters I’ve read in other books in a way that I could actually relate to her more. Elisa loves to eat, and I am not using the word loves lightly. Moreover, she’s fat. The fact that Elisa is fat actually drives a lot of her character in the beginning of the story. Elisa worrying about her weight and what a cute guy thinks of her appearance is so normal for a 16-year-old girl, and it made me love her so much more. One of my favorite lines:
If my gown isn’t going to fit anyway, I might as well soothe my pounding head and rumbling stomach with a warm pastry.
A girl after my own heart – couldn’t have said it better myself.

Of course, weight is not the only thing driving Elisa – there’s also the Godstone, and how she must fulfill her act of service to God as a chosen bearer. Throughout The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa struggles with her faith and how everyone thinks they know what God’s will is while she remains utterly clueless. Elisa truly evolves through her search to figure out what she is meant to do, allowing her to learn how to act on her own and building her confidence.

Don’t call my name, don’t call my name… Alejandrooooooo. Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out my system, onto the lovely king to whom Elisa is married at the beginning of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. There really isn’t much to say about Alejandro’s personality: he’s indecisive, weak, and shady, but also quite friendly at the same time. His relationship with Elisa isn’t much – in the beginning, he tells her he wants to be friends, but he is largely absent, barely giving Elisa the time of day. At the same time, the way he conducts himself allows Elisa to grow into her role as Queen. Because Alejandro is indecisive, Elisa learns a bit about leading, and because he pays no attention to her, Elisa learns that what he thinks of her doesn’t really matter in the long run – she must do what she needs to do in order to rule and fulfill her act of service.

Now we have the guy who actually cares about Elisa: Humbeurto. From the moment we meet Humbeurto, we see him caring for Elisa and protecting her. The only downfall about Humbeurto, for me, was that we only really see him as a person who revolves around Elisa. We know he’d do anything for Elisa and all that, but there isn’t a lot of any of his other motivations (besides revenge). However, the fact that Humbeurto loves Elisa to such an extent and that he defends her not only to physical harm, but also to her doubts, allows Elisa to feel powerful.

Cosmé, on the other hand, works against Elisa for much of the book. Cosmé constantly looks down on Elisa, belittling her. Despite the way she antagonizes Elisa, the two become friends. Cosmé’s nagging at Elisa becomes motivation for Elisa to work harder and prove herself. I was really surprised by how much I grew to like Cosmé. If someone had told me I would like her by the end when I first met her in the book, I would have laughed. Hysterically. But Cosmé becomes so much more than Elisa’s hand maiden who she doesn’t trust – she becomes someone Elisa can rely on, someone she trusts whole-heartedly.

Another interesting character is Ximena, who is largely a mystery to both Elisa and the reader throughout The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Ximena is Elisa’s nurse and the closest thing Elisa has ever had to a mother. Ximena will do anything for what she believes is best for Elisa or Elisa’s protection. Ximena is so devoted to Elisa; their bond, so sweet.

Of course, there’s the matter of a war and crazy Inviernos out to take over Joya d’Arena. The Inviernos are crazy. I know if I was Elisa, I would be terribly frightened by them, but she stands her ground. How Carson describes the battle scenes is wonderful, adding drama and suspense and making the reader anxious to know the outcome.

Overall, I truly loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It’s original premise and wonderful character building truly pulled me in and made this an unforgettable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mathew sic
This story is told in first person narrative through the eyes of the chosen one, Elisa, who is not your typical beautiful princess. She's sixteen, overweight, and suffers some typical and atypical teenage troubles. While the story itself isn't really the kind of story I would like, I was intrigued by this different take on a heroine, but it is also a clear coming of age/growing up/self-acceptance kind of tale. Carson did a good job showing the changes taking place in Elisa over the length of the story, sad as some of it was. Aside from the heroine being atypical, the setting is not as Tolkien name inspired but Spanish (I think). I can see this book appealing primarily to teens, but I am interested to see how Elisa now grows further.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laurie wolfe
Having recently read several books in which beauty is given as the key to popularity and, ultimately, success, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, with its rather imperfect female lead, was a welcome and refreshing read. Obese and unfit princess Elisa is chosen as bearer of the Godstone; something that happens only once every century. After her politically arranged marriage to king Alejandro of Joya d'Arena, she finds herself involved in far more than just being the queen of a country on the brink of war.

Set in a fantasy world full of magic and prophecy, this book is a compelling, comfortably-paced story. Although it is full of adventure, lots of action and suspense, and some heartrending tragedy, the true magic of this book is in the characters and their interactions.

The main character, Elisa, is ordinary enough for most young girls to identify with. She is overweight, loves her food and comforts, and she is extremely unfit. Her intelligence and studious nature, however, are her main redeeming qualities. Besides her cleverness, she is loyal, brave, adaptable, and will do whatever it takes to save her people.

Other well fleshed out characters include Cosmé with her complex personality and ability to play multiple roles, as well as Rosario, the crown prince of Joya d'Arena. The clever yet always heartwarming way in which Elisa interacts with everybody who crosses her path, brings a profoundly humane element to this book. Although there is a lot of potential for romance, it is kept in the background of the actual story.

Despite the black magic, barbarism, human sacrifice and tragedy in this book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a clean, relaxing read with a lot of wisdom about having faith in oneself. (Ellen Fritz)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
parnia
Full review on Reader's Dialogue: [...]

This book was recommended to me because I love Robin McKinley's Damar novels. And I immediately saw why. The two series are very similar, though each one has its own unique voice and style. It starts with a girl who thinks she's worthless and winds up being the most important person in the world. Along the way, there's kidnapping, royal marriages, intrigue, budding romance, stark loyalty, friendship, loss...

Elisa is so compelling right from the start, even as she's being obnoxiously insecure and finding comfort in food. I absolutely loved the food aspect, by the way. Because Elisa turns to food so often, there's a ton of mention of food throughout the book, and I loved the inventiveness as some foods were recognizable and some were completely novel and delightfully exotic (I'll pass on the rat soup, though, which apparently Elisa will too!). Her insecurities actually become the point of entry for us to identify with her, and the way the king treats her leaves us as confused as she is. She of course thinks there's a deeper reason for the king marrying her than her beauty, of which she assumes she has none, but when he appears to love her, she begins to tentatively hope. And though the king is far from a bad person, I couldn't help hating him a little as he was so blind to Elisa as a person needing love and acted kind in a way that cut deep.

The Godstone that rests in Elisa's navel is just as confusing. She thinks she gets help and responses from God, but she doubts it also, and she hates it at times for allowing her friends to die when she prays and it sends warmth as if it's accepting her prayer. Her relationship with the Godstone is central to the story, of course, and is essential to her growth.

Humberto is possibly the only person who doesn't act ambiguously. Elisa doesn't trust him at first, but I loved every scene that he was in, because he has such a quiet strength and is such a perfect gentleman. I sort of fell in love with him. Which makes what happens so much harder, of course, and I really hope Elisa finds a way out of it in the next book - like in the first few pages, maybe, please? Though I know that's not really possible.

But the main part of Elisa's journey is discovering her own worth and rising to the challenge presented to her, and I think her realization at the end of the book about the connection between her being chosen and her choosing to act is so heartwarming. And I can't wait to find out how it all plays out further...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marnanel
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a beautiful, bittersweet, and refreshing fantasy novel. I found the plot, world, and characters to be far from cliche. The story was bold and I could tell that the author, Rae Carson, didn’t shy away from doing what the story needed. I only give five stars to books that keep me guessing and wow me with the ending and Girl of Fire and Thorns definitely did that. It had a great story arc and a nice, satisfying ending. The setting was beautiful. It was like someone put the languages of Spanish and French in a jar and mixed it up for the naming things and then set it all in a beautiful Middle Eastern location.

The plot had lots of intrigue. I had a tons of questions, lots of theories, but no obvious answers. Just the way I like it. As soon as I had a few theories of what I thought was going to happen, the plot would go in a new, interesting direction and I would, of course, be totally wrong. It’s just so much fun to read a book like that! More young adult novels should have a love story like this one. I found it to be realistic. There was no obvious love interest or instant chemistry. The pacing of the events in the novel were perfect. It never felt rushed or dragged to me.

Elisa was a unique main character. She deals with sexism, a forced marriage, being judged because she is overweight, and being hunted because she is the “chosen one”. She goes through quite the emotional and physical transformation because of the difficult and sad things that she experiences. Elisa was such an appealing main character because I could see her potential and I couldn’t wait to see if she ever realized it.

A theme throughout the book was faith and religion. One of Elisa’s strengths is her faith in God and in herself. I liked how the author showed that religion can bring strength to people, can be used to manipulate others, and can be twisted to fit people’s own ideas of how the world should be. It was thought provoking to me on how religion is viewed and used in our own lives.

Overall, it was intriguing, beautiful, unpredictable fantasy novel with a beautiful setting and a main character that I was rooting for.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cody w
I have been conflicted throughout the reading of this book. The concept of the "Godstone" just doesn't feel right to me. It is a little bit creepy. How exactly does God implant these stones? Why are a bunch of them lying around? How did they get out of the bodies of the other bearers? Contemplation leads to some very nasty visual images. I couldn't decide if this book was supposed to be a "spiritual" novel or a fantasy novel, or exactly what? Elisa prays and is also interested in sorcery? Is there a magical jackpot hidden somewhere that rewards faithfulness? While I am confused, I am also intrigued. I am not really a fan of faith based novels. In fact, I don't read them. But the mystery/adventure/romance kept me interested in this book. I am going to read the next book in the series today. I am hopeful Elisa's character is further developed(this book leaves me with the image of a frightened, self-deprecating, boy crazy girl, trying to learn to be an adult) and that the interaction between religious belief and magic becomes more evident.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jaci ms darcy reads
Grade: 95%
Rating: ★★★★★

I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and very different. Though, the entire time I read this book, a little voice inside me screamed: JOAN OF ARC! I absolutely love the history of Joan of Arc (a Catholic Saint). Joan believed she heard the voices of Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine tell her how to follow God's plan and in the process helped the French win many battles in the Hundred Years War (Very much like Elisa's Godstone in The Girl of Fire and Thorns). She was later captured by the English and heavily interrogated with insane questions that all tried to prove she was a witch hearing demons rather than the Angels she swore she heard. In the end of this tragic story, she was burned at the stake for her beliefs. Which makes me wonder if at the end of this trilogy young Elisa dies in some form.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tamim zahrani
To be honest, initially, there really wasn’t much about The Girl of Fire and Thorns that appealed to me. The cover was blah. The premise didn’t really seem like something I would be interested in. I had determined that I was just going to skip this book until I started hearing all this buzz about Rae Carson as an author. The last time I had paid attention to buzz concerning an author, Rainbow Rowell, I was pleasantly surprised and then proceeded to read everything I could get my hands on that she has written. I was hoping this would be the same sort of situation and I actually think it is!

I’m incredibly picky when it comes to fantasy. I don’t want to read about elves or fairies or other make-believe creatures. (Magic being the one exception.) I also despise hundreds of pages of world building. Please just let me fill in the blanks with my own imagination. I’m very hesitant when picking up a book that is very clearly fantasy and I tend to go in with a slightly bad attitude. However, when it is done well, fantasy can be the perfect escape from the mundane of everyday living. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a great example of this.

While reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns the reader is taken on quite the adventure and somewhere along the way you may discover that you have become quite invested in the story and the characters. This was the kind of book that I made time to read every single day and I was actually sad to see it end. That is not to say that this is the best book I have ever read. I do think The Girl of Fire and Thorns has its flaws and there were some things that really drove me crazy.

The first thing that drove me crazy and is still kind of driving me crazy? Where does this story take place?! A bunch of Spanish words and phrases are used throughout the novel and various plants common to Central America are featured so for the majority of the novel I assumed it was somewhere in Central America. I don’t know that for certain though. It kind of drives me crazy when a story takes place in a world that is so similar to our own, yet I can’t quite figure out where the place actually is in our world.

I was also slightly irritated by how many characters there were who just weren’t important. I like to know everything about every character I read about and I’m just not a fan of filler characters who seem to have very little background. There were a few characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns who seemed to blend with the other characters. Also, while we are on the subject of characters why did the love story element have to go the way that it did? I’m a little bit crushed.

I’m also annoyed that so little was revealed concerning the magic and the godstones. These are central elements of the story and I just expected to learn much more than I did. I guess it is good Fire and Thorns is a series. Perhaps I will learn more as I go along. I will definitely read the rest of this series.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jordon salbato
Elisa is a fat royal princess who seems to not get along with her sister at all and who stays at home with her nurse and eats her pain away. She is told she has to marry and as the obedient princess she is, she obeys. She also holds what is known as the "God Stone" within her bellybutton (like a treasure troll). This stone allows the bearer, who is always rare and comes every so often, to live out an important act of service in some way. Everyone seems so disappointed in her though. She doesn't seem like what a bearer should appear to be. God has set into motion an act for her life and she thinks perhaps serving the king she is to marry might be part of that, though maybe not. She is intrigued by him, until events happen that cause her to become fearless. The way Elisa's character is built throughout this is so well done. The characters are great and the story was so unique, but at the same time perhaps because I was listening to it piece by piece while I quilted, rather than read as I normally do, I perhaps didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. Definitely glad I heard it and I will either read or listen to the rest of the series in time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
purvi
"Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness." Elisa is an unlikely heroine - she is not remarkably beautiful, is not Barbie doll slim, but she is well read, intelligent, and stronger than she gives herself credit to be. As the bearer of the Godstone, Elisa has a higher purpose that has yet to reveal itself. When circumstances change, she realizes that her Godstone may just be the thing to save them all. A quick read, The Girl of Fire and Thorns had some great ideas and a strong underlying plot. The part that really bugged me is the fact that Elisa is the chosen one, yet it does not seem that anyone is in much of a hurry to ready her for her unseen task. The lack of training and the prophecy kept secret seemed foolhardy and unrealistic. However, Elisa is a well defined character with a great combination of strength, intelligence, and humility. For this character alone, I will definitely be reading the next book in the series. As Elisa gets older, I am curious to see whether her new found maturity will be a help or a hindrance.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
fiona callaghan
Originally posted 8/24 at Melissa's Bookshelf.

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.

But overall, I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kelsea
I tend to have a hard time reviewing books that I enjoyed. I can go on and on about why a book just wasn't the right fit for me, but when I'm faced with trying to express my love for a great story, I tend to come up short.

Such is the case with The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I'd heard great things about this book, but for whatever reason, I just wasn't that interested in reading it. But then I really got into a high fantasy mood, checked my shelves, and realized this one had been sitting there for quite some time.

Y'all, this book is awesome! It's not just the characters or the plot or the pacing or any one thing; it's them all put together. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since this book has been nominated (and won) so many great awards. I won't ever doubt Rae Carson again.

Firstly, I'd like to express my love for Elisa. This girl is BA, and not in the usual way. If you're unfamiliar with the book, it's important to note that Elisa is, well...overweight. She overeats because she's depressed, because she feels useless, and because she's bored. But as she's thrown into terrible situations and she must rise to the occasion, her weight shrinks as her courage grows. I loved watching the physical change as it mirrored the internal one. And even in the end, homegirl loves food. :)

I also really liked the worldbuilding. I'm guessing the world Rae Carson created was based on Spain or some other Spanish-speaking culture, as most of the names are of Spanish origin and the Lengua Classica, one of their languages, is a derivative of Spanish (or maybe Portuguese?). This was a lot different, considering so many high fantasy novels take after Tolkien and others, and are based on British, Norse, or Celtic folklore. I loved seeing something different!

In terms of the actual plot, I thought it built really well. The beginning is more focused on Elisa and her internal conflicts, but Carson manages to hold our interest until she hits the real action about 1/3 of the way through. And honestly, I thought Carson was just as good at character development and personal conflict as she was at action scenes, maybe even better.

There's very little romance in this book. And what is here is bittersweet. Because I've heard some things about book 2, The Crown of Embers, I know that Hector will become a love interest. And umm...I APPROVE! I love him! But you know, I also sorta loved the king, Alejandro. I liked that he was afraid, that he had such a tangible flaw that you don't usually see in guys in fiction. (At least, not if you want them to be at all redeemable.) He was a character that sometimes you really didn't like but then other times sort of admired. I thought he was one of the more complex characters, and for that, I enjoyed reading about him.

I don't really have much else to say, as there are already a ton of reviews for this book. I'd just like to add my voice to the myriad of others who are saying: READ THIS BOOK! It really is great, and if you enjoy fantasy, you should totally add this to your TBR list!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
beth fisher
This book did not read like a debut novel. It was a really neat read! The premise was very unique and very well-executed. The plot and pacing kept me interested in the story the entire book, and I couldn't wait to find out how it ended. There were a couple of surprises at the end, and I loved how summarily Carson dismisses a main character. No fooling around, just bam! and it's over!

I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns from the very first page. I identified with Elisa and her emotional eating and I really felt for her. I liked the way Carson addressed this issue, as well as her treatment of Elisa's self-esteem.

I do so love a love triangle and this book had a great one. I'm a sucker for forbidden love; therefore, I really enjoyed this part of the story. I admired Elisa for the adult way she handled her relationship with both of her love interests. I especially liked Elisa's character growth.

The one problem I had with The Girl of Fire and Thorns, though, was that I didn't know what was going on for a while. I was kind of confused for about the first half of the book. I actually went online to check that this was the first of the series and not a later book in the series, because Carson jumps right in to the story with very little explanation. I had no idea what a Godstone was and was left in the dark as to all of the details of the story. I figured it out as I read though, which motivated me to keep reading even though the book was a long one for YA.

Overall, I enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns and am looking forward to the next book in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mohammd
I really liked this book. I picked it up yesterday afternoon and found myself drawn into the world that Carson developed for us. I'm the type of reader, where, if the book pulls me in straightaway and I keep thumbing through the pages, then I'm going to enjoy the read. But if I'm not completely pulled into that world, where my real life surroundings dissipate, then it just doesn't work for me.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns definitely pulled me in, despite the fact that I didn't like Elisa (our protagonist) at first. I felt for her, I did, but I don't think she really tried hard enough to be worthy of being the Chosen One... at first. We are introduced to a girl who feels inferior to her beautiful, knowledgeable, and well-versed sister. The two share a strained relationship and Elisa, although she bears the Godstone (which is only bestowed on one person every century) would rather stuff her face with food when the going got tough.

She is forced to marry King Alejandro of another kingdom for alliance purposes, and she prays that he is fat and ugly, just to make herself feel better. Instead, he is the most handsome man she's ever seen.

Elisa's life changes drastically upon reaching her new kingdom, and Alejandro asks her to keep their marriage a secret, introducing her as the princess, and an honored guest. I think this bothers Elisa, even though Alejandro has already told her he wishes them to be friends. I liked Alejandro's character at first, and then not so much after that. I understand his wish for friendship with Elisa. I'm glad Carson didn't delude us into thinking they would fall in love instantaneously. However, as the King, Alejandro is weak and fearful. As a father, he is neglectful. Elisa recognizes that as do others, which is why her counsel is sought during a Quorum meeting and why she takes so strongly to little prince Rosario.

The biggest thing I liked about this book, is that we really get to see Elisa change. From the moment she sets out for her new kingdom, she is slowly transforming into a different person due to key events. By the end of the book, Elisa is no longer a weak character, but she becomes strong and as Hector, captain of the King's Guard, says "she is full of steel". She definitely becomes a strong female protagonist who will fight for her kingdom and her friends. Again, Elisa doesn't just change on her own, but rather it is a slow build up, and I like that.

As for the other characters, I am excited to see more of Hector in the second book. He didn't play a huge role in this one, but he proved to be a friend that Elisa needed because he trusted and believed in her. Ximena, her nurse maid, is also wonderful to her. She understands Elisa and is her solace throughout the beginning of the novel.

I know a lot of people didn't ever warm up to Cosmé's character, but I did. We first met her as the Condesa Ariña's lady in waiting. Ariña, evil witch that she is, sends Cosmé to spy on Elisa, but it backfires as Elisa requests her as her lady in waiting permanently. Cosmé is icy and unfriendly, but she has her reasons.Cosmé finds out that Elisa carries the Godstone, which sets another series of events into motion. Through those events, Elisa meets Cosmé's brother Humberto. Humberto is instantly kind to her and she ends up falling for him, despite the fact she knows they cannot be together.

I think Carson also handed the faith and religious aspect quite well. It wasn't overdone to me and I thought it fit perfectly with the story.

This review was difficult for me to write because there were so many elements in this story and I don't want to give anything away for those who have not read it.

Overall, I like these historical/fantasy books. I loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and I liked Cayla Kluver's Legacy trilogy.

I have Crown of Embers waiting for me, so I will start that sometime soon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
christy everett
I adored it. I think the top two things I didn't like was that there was too much emphasis on god and praying for my taste, and a character I enjoyed doesn't make it. Those are more personal opinions though, so feel free to take them with a grain of salt.

I understand the religious basis for the story, I really do. It adds a certain amount of intrigue and conflict with the whole whose-side-does-god-support thing. It's simply that I am a non-believer(I spent years studying science, and so the scientist in me demands proof and logical thinking), and therefore so much faith and prayer is a little grating to me. Just seems like there is an underlying message here that belief and prayer will fix all your problems and fill you with purpose, and I don't necessarily agree with that. It's my opinion, and you certainly don't have to agree with me, I don't judge, lol. The fact that this book is clearly fantasy and fictional makes it all a little easier to swallow.

Speaking of it being Fantasy... it's so very refreshing to see a powerful and strong female heroine. Fantasy is usually dominated by male leads, and so I really enjoyed having the tables turned here. There IS still quite a bit of emphasis put on Elisa's weight, and how she is somehow more valuable after roaming the desert caused her to slim down and become more attractive. While that is complete crap, it is also a very minor thing, so I'll try not to nit pick on it anymore.

As for the character dying, well, I'm sure it has it's purpose. I also read an interview with the author where she implied that this particular character was only a love interest because of Stalkholm Syndrome. Now there is some food for thought!

I will say that I'm very intrigued to see where this series goes, and can't wait to pick up the second book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
caeser pink
3-3.5 stars This was an interesting read and I am curious how the series plays out.

A girl chosen in infancy by God to leave a mark on the world, to serve a purpose. At age 16, Elisa still doesn't know what exactly God had in mind for her. This is her story, finding herself, her purpose, and her people. The flow is very steady, the writing good/simplistic, the characters appealing...I only wish we could have delved more into the relationships and character development, I feel like we skim the surface of so much. Elisa seems more trusting and more forgiving than what I would imagine (especially given her sisters warning,) I would think the events that unfold would make her leary of trusting people, but maybe it's her purity and godliness that counterbalances that?

YA read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bruce martin
Five Stars

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a wonderful novel written by Rae Carson; it has a clear storyline, is enjoyable to read, and is most definitely special.

The book tells the tale of Elisa, princess of a country called Orovalle. Elisa doesn't consider herself remarkable in any way and struggles with her weight in the beginning of the story. However, a stone in her navel called the Godstone proves that she was destined for greatness; the bearers of stones such as these have throughout history been admired and respected, and some of them have accomplished amazing tasks. But being a bearer of the Godstone comes with a price; Elisa is constantly hunted by those willing to kill her for it. When Elisa marries King Alejandro of the neighboring country of Joya d'Arena, she expects to have a safe life there. However, after a few weeks of peace, Elisa is kidnapped by one of the servants who attends to her, Cosme, and brought across the vast desert of Joya d'Arena to see the suffering of those living on its outskirts and how they are fighting a losing battle against dark sorcerers (anigami) from the icy land of Invierne.

Upon seeing the determination of Cosme's people to ward off the anigami, Elisa must choose between going back to the life of ignorance designed for her with Alejandro, who doesn't truly love her, and helping Cosme and her group of desert nomads, including the courageous Humberto (who she believes may have feelings for her).

I think that other kids would definitely enjoy this story; it is full of engrossing suspense and mystery. Furthermore, Elisa is a believable heroine who it is easy to root for. Plus, The Girl of Fire and Thorns paints the picture of a place similar enough to the real world so that it doesn't come across as confusing but different enough that it allows the reader to imagine scenes not possible in real life. My favorite part of this novel was when Elisa was kidnapped by Cosme and Humberto. This is because her kidnapping introduces a substance crucial later in the story, duerma leaf, which smells like cinnamon and can knock someone out in small doses.

It also is the turning point of The Girl of Fire and Thorns and has a monumental amount of tension and uncertainty surrounding it. I believe that this novel is special because it shows the value of bravery and finding yourself through describing Elisa's journey and her transformation from being an unsure follower to living as a clever, confident, and brave leader. I would definitely give this book five out of five stars. It was an intriguing read that left me wanting to learn more about Elisa and her companions. Furthermore, like any exceptional story, it provided me with an escape from reality until its very last page. In a nutshell, I would highly recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns; it has a page-turning plot and a strong main character.

Review by Vivian C., age 14, Orange County Mensa
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lili dias
The story starts with our heroine's arranged and political marriage to King Alejandro. At the age of 16, princess Elisa has been honored from birth to be the "bearer" for her generation. The bearer is the person who only once every 100 years is blessed with a godstone on their naming day and are destined for greatness. When you first meet Elisa, greatness seems incredibly far fetched. Instead you meet a heroine who appears to have been molly coddled her entire life and is to be blunt a selfish gluttonous princess who has never had to do anything she didn't want to in her entire life. Life changes dramatically for Elisa after some extreme changes in circumstances and along with toughing things out for the first time in her life she discovers her purpose to help save her people from magical enemies.

I'm not sure I was really a fan of Elisa though I know many bloggers have hailed her as a likeable heroine. I found things a little too predictable with her growth. After whinging about her weight and frumpiness for the first half of the novel, she then managed to have the fortitude to tough things out in the desert without complaint and get fit and slim with what appeared to be virtually no effort on her part. I also didn't like that she seemed to fall in love with her captor at one point and instead of feeling fear towards him upon first meeting she mooned over his eyes, this just isn't realistic in my books! Small complaints aside, Elisa does grow dramatically throughout the course of the story and she really does step up and become a strong honourable heroine by the end of this book and I look forward to seeing how she goes in the remainder of the series.

The actual story was really fantastic, the plot moves at a fast but manageble pace and there is lots of fantastic action scenes to keep the reader intrigued the entire way through. There were some references to me that came a hairs breadth away from religion and christianity but it managed to only make me uncomfortable briefly and for the whole I could enjoy the novel irrespective of my religious beliefs. The story is wrapped up brilliantly and left just enough teasers for book 2 which I now can't wait to get my hands on!

This is a great fantasy novel for people that just don't have the time to read adult high fantasy due to the page count. While it isn't the best one I've read recently, it still deserves a look in and I'm extra impressed considering its a debut author!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sean jenan
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is exactly what we need more of in YA literature - actual high fantasy. If you're a fan of books by Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore, this is a book you're going to enjoy! The world-building and characterization both work together to make this a story I was loath to finish.

Elisha is chosen. Chosen for what, she doesn't know and can't imagine. She watches her older sister who is much more poised and beautiful than she and wonders what she could possibly have to offer the world. She is overweight and awkward in all almost every possible way you can think of. She is married off to a king from another country and is then plunged into a confusing new world made of violence and intrigue. Then she is forcibly taken away and loses what little familiarity she'd gained in her new surroundings. She quickly learns that sometimes you have to go out and find your destiny instead of waiting for it to come to you.

So, Elisha is a pretty awesome heroine. When the book begins, basically all she has going for her is intelligence. She has no self-confidence, is extremely overweight and overwhelmingly awkward in social situations. As the book progresses, she undergoes a pretty extreme transformation both physically and mentally. I love that her imperfections are delved into instead of being brushed aside - Rae Carson knows the power of a human heroine. The changes she undergoes are totally legit by the way - she comes into herself little by little as circumstances force her to do so. There is a little romance, but not much. I've got a hunch about where that road will take us next though, so I think there might be quite a bit more of that in future books.

As far as the world-building goes, I was pretty impressed. The world is on the brink of war and the intricacies of which countries are on which side, who the power players are, etc. is all handled very well. No annoying information overload - just enough bits and pieces to easily pick things up. Elisha travels around quite a bit, so we're introduced to different areas one at a time.

Another thing, which made me love the book even more, is the ending. There is one. No annoying massive cliffhanger or weird abrupt closing - events actually wrap up and I felt some closure. This is despite the fact that the book is the first of a trilogy! I mean, there was a lot going on in this book so of course there are plenty of things that can be picked up with the next book (and plenty of things I still want to know), but the main conflict of this book is handled. So awesome.

Anyway, I am a fantasy junkie and this book definitely stands out as a fantastic read. I highly recommend it! Also, don't you guys love the new cover? The old one with the girl in the dress was very paranormal romancey - this one fits the book's actual genre so much better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cameron scott
Today is the day of my wedding. It is also my sixteenth birthday.
-The Girl of Fire and Thorns

That quote right there captivated me right from the beginning. This book is the story of Elisa, the sixteen-year-old girl who is chosen by God to fulfill a great destiny. From the first pages, we realize that Elisa has this huge internal conflict with herself. She's questioning herself as to why God would choose her the fat, dark, princess. I took a liking to Elisa right away, because of the fact that she was so... wounded. I wanted to pick her up and hug her right away. I also realize how amazing her character growth was. Elisa grows from fragile child to beautiful and mature woman right before our eyes.

Other than Elisa, there were wonderful characters that you couldn't help but like. I especially loved Rosario, Hector and Cosmé.

I enjoyed the overall plot of this book. I liked how there wasn't only one villain or only one good guy. It was nice seeing that not everything was black and white in this book. I also enjoyed the pacing. At first it seemed to drag on, but after a while I could see how it was building up to something more.

Also, I loved the romance!

It was so endearing, and never got in the way of the actual story. There were no stupid make-out scenes while the world was crumbling all around them, and there was no stupid fixation on the other person, to the point of forgetting what this book was all about.

I enjoyed the love interest most of all, because he was just so adorable towards Elisa. He always tried to protect her, and he stood up for her, but always letting her be herself. He loved her regardless of who she was and what she looked like.

"You [Elisa] are the bravest person I know. And smart. And..." He shifts his feet. "And beautiful."
-The Girl of Fire and Thorns

An element of this book that may be controversial for many people could be the underlying religious theme. And I will be honest, I don't usually like religion in the books I read, but this book was so different from the typical "preach instead of teach" book. It doesn't conform to one religion; hell, it even doesn't say that much about religion. What it does talk about it one's general purpose in life, and the faith that you must have in yourself to achieve it. The book states that everyone is chosen for a reason, and our purpose is much more than it seems. This book teaches us to find the power deep within ourselves.

I didn't need faith in God so much as I needed faith in myself.
-The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Overall, I recommend this book if you're looking for a book with great character development, swoony romance, and a read along the likes of Graceling and Fire. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
miriam
I think I kind of love this book. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be just an average high fantasy quest kind of book, with a little bit of cheesy message thrown in at the end. Let's just say I was very wrong. This was a powerful, thought-provoking high fantasy quest with an intricate, magical plot, and a beautiful not cheesy massage woven throughout the whole storyline.

The plot, while starting off slowly, begins to grow into something full of excitement and suspense. The pacing is perfectly balanced. It's never rushed, but there's always a subtle hint of urgency behind it. It was practically impossible to put down! The writing was rich and powerful. The narrator's voice was very present and set the tone for the whole book. It was descriptive, without being overly detailed. It flowed smoothly and clearly, making for a fully engrossing story.

Usually I don't like any religious elements in my books because they come across as forced, unrealistic, and overly-preachy. But this was different. It felt real and personal to Elisa. The history and culture in the story was heavily influenced by God, but it felt...natural, not weird. I loved seeing how Elisa's faith played a role in her overall character, especially with her connection to the Godstone, and being the Chosen One.

Elisa was such a striking main character, who goes through an amazing metamorphosis over the course of this novel. She begins as an troubled overweight princess who has a heavy duty put on her shoulders. She is weak and insecure; not the kind of heroine you'd look up to. But when her circumstances drastically change, she's pushed beyond her boundaries into territory she never knew she could cross, growing her into a stronger, more confident woman with every step taken, and every page turned.

This is a book anyone could easily fall in love with. It has a marvelous setting, real characters, and excellent prose, which all together create an unforgettable story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer scacchi
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is exactly what we need more of in YA literature - actual high fantasy. If you're a fan of books by Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore, this is a book you're going to enjoy! The world-building and characterization both work together to make this a story I was loath to finish.

Elisha is chosen. Chosen for what, she doesn't know and can't imagine. She watches her older sister who is much more poised and beautiful than she and wonders what she could possibly have to offer the world. She is overweight and awkward in all almost every possible way you can think of. She is married off to a king from another country and is then plunged into a confusing new world made of violence and intrigue. Then she is forcibly taken away and loses what little familiarity she'd gained in her new surroundings. She quickly learns that sometimes you have to go out and find your destiny instead of waiting for it to come to you.

So, Elisha is a pretty awesome heroine. When the book begins, basically all she has going for her is intelligence. She has no self-confidence, is extremely overweight and overwhelmingly awkward in social situations. As the book progresses, she undergoes a pretty extreme transformation both physically and mentally. I love that her imperfections are delved into instead of being brushed aside - Rae Carson knows the power of a human heroine. The changes she undergoes are totally legit by the way - she comes into herself little by little as circumstances force her to do so. There is a little romance, but not much. I've got a hunch about where that road will take us next though, so I think there might be quite a bit more of that in future books.

As far as the world-building goes, I was pretty impressed. The world is on the brink of war and the intricacies of which countries are on which side, who the power players are, etc. is all handled very well. No annoying information overload - just enough bits and pieces to easily pick things up. Elisha travels around quite a bit, so we're introduced to different areas one at a time.

Another thing, which made me love the book even more, is the ending. There is one. No annoying massive cliffhanger or weird abrupt closing - events actually wrap up and I felt some closure. This is despite the fact that the book is the first of a trilogy! I mean, there was a lot going on in this book so of course there are plenty of things that can be picked up with the next book (and plenty of things I still want to know), but the main conflict of this book is handled. So awesome.

Anyway, I am a fantasy junkie and this book definitely stands out as a fantastic read. I highly recommend it! Also, don't you guys love the new cover? The old one with the girl in the dress was very paranormal romancey - this one fits the book's actual genre so much better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah ensor
Actual review: 4.5 stars

Well, I should start off by saying that I could NOT stop reading this book. Literally. I started it LAST NIGHT, stayed up until 1:30 AM and then opened my eyes before 9 to keep reading it. I just had to know what happened. I do enjoy guessing what is going to happen as I read, and sadly with most books I'm hardly ever actually surprised. Not here! I was convinced the book was going to end with some kind of sappy, love-triangle ending as a lot of books seem to these days, but I was wrong. It was very refreshing.

The characters here were no great shakes, except for the main character Elisa. Talk about refreshing. She starts off as a fat, pampered, ignorant child-but not spoiled. She becomes pretty kick butt by the end, but she takes a journey to get there that is believable. Few authors dare to do this these days, and the ones who do rarely do it well. I felt like I could sit down and chat with Elisa, because she was just so REAL.

Granted, Elisa and the book did fall into one YA cliché that makes me sigh. So often in YA books these days, there is no visible growth when the main character falls in love. It is just instant love at first sight, BAM. Does it make the book move along, sure. But it's fairly ridiculous and it annoys me when it happens. At least here, Carson makes an obvious attempt to discern why Elisa feels the way she, and there isn't an instant lovey-dovey scene anywhere. Still a little too quick for my taste (and a little too quick for a certain event near the end of the book to have the impact it ought to) but better done then I've seen lately.

The world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns was also great. In places - especially in the beginning - I felt like I wasn't getting enough information to form a clear picture with, but enough information came out as the book went on for me to grasp generalities. The book was clearly setting up for a sequel, so it's entirely possible the world wasn't completely explained for just that purpose. Either way, it worked out well enough. The book flowed quickly and easily.

I read ridiculously fast first time through, and sometimes after that I won't reread a book, but I certainly want to revisit this one! Overall, I would certainly recommend this book to fans of fantasy YA fiction. It's different, it's believable and it's interesting. Four and a half stars from me!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bigreddsp
Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle, has been divinely chosen to be the bearer of the Godstone. Every one hundred years a new bearer is chosen to carry God's mark and to perform an act of pre-ordained Service. The younger of two princesses, Elisa feels anything but remarkable, however. Living in the shadow of her older sister, the sister who is skilled in matters of state, adept at court politics, regal, confident and not to mention a paragon of physical beauty, Elisa is the exact opposite of her sister. Physically large and plagued by feelings of inadequacy, she is unsure how she is supposed to fulfill her role as the Chosen One.

On her sixteenth birthday Elisa suddenly finds herself wife to the kind, yet distant King Alejandro de Vega of Joya d' Arena who desperately hopes that the bearer of the Godstone will preserve his war-threatened country. Uprooted from her home, struggling to find her place in her husband's household, ill-equipped to deal with the maneuverings of the royal court and ill-informed as to what her calling truly means Elisa determines to take charge of her destiny and learn what it means to be God's chosen. As she accepts her role as the Godstone, she becomes the target of the enemy's dark magic, the hope of her people and the love of a revolutionary. Will she be able to discover her purpose as the bearer before she loses all that she loves?

What made this book so lovely was simply, Elisa. From her physical description alone, she was a refreshing character from the YA norm. Not willowy and slender, not exotic and petite, but a girl of large physique, one with voluptuous curves. Carson has given this genre something it sorely needs, a "real" girl. Specifically, one that doesn't wear a size 2; a girl that women of all ages, shapes and sizes can easily relate to. Elisa is very conscious of her weight, and though she at times is keenly aware of and embarrassed by her physical "shortcomings" in the eyes of others, she grows into an ownership of who she is and what she looks like that's really beautiful to watch.

In addition to Elisa's outward physical uniqueness, her internal growth, her maturity as a character and her journey toward the woman she's meant to become make this book such a page-turner. When we first meet Elisa, she feels inadequate, that perhaps God has made a mistake in choosing her for His task - whatever that might be. In regard to her place in Orovalle, she feels somewhat less than, like the second-best daughter since she fails to measure up to her sister's successes, skills and physical beauty. In her new home of Joya d' Arena, she feels useless, hidden, ashamed of, floundering with no real purpose and she's discovering that she seems to know less about her role as the bearer than everyone else. Through a series of events Elisa comes to the realization that she needs to start taking charge of her life and making her own decisions. As the war with Invierne looms closer she becomes a leader, utilizing her intuitive and analytical skills in the war effort, cultivating the ability to make the tough decisions that are required of a ruler. She is an excellent judge of character, is proficient at reading people and situations, and above all she is devout in her faith as she tries to discern her purpose in God's larger plan. Carson has created a beautiful and compelling character in Elisa, a empathetic character that I connected deeply with and that, for me, cemented it as an instant favorite.

If you couldn't tell by now, this book deals largely with a religious theme though I wouldn't call this book religious in nature by any means. It is a fantasy, but not what I would consider high fantasy. The fantastic elements are rather mild, with enough sprinkled throughout the book to distinguish it as being not of our world. The historical tone of the book is what I would imagine 16th-17th century Spain to be like. The religion in the book, while strongly reminiscent of Catholicism, is never described in great detail. The rules and workings are vague, but you get the sense that Elisa's God is a caring and somewhat personal deity. As a Christian myself, I did appreciate the very respectful way that Carson handled the religious aspect. When crafting the kind of story that deals with divine destiny, and especially when in reference to "Big G" God, it's easy and almost expected that God will be portrayed as a remote, uncaring puppet master of fate, but she managed to steer clear of those waters and ended up combining divine purpose and free will in an interesting way.

Themes and characters aside, the story it self was very easy to get swept up in. Despite whatever else was going on in the story, at the forefront was the fact that war was brewing against this terrifyingly large army of Invierne who conspired with dark magic in an attempt to destroy everything Elisa holds dear. And somehow against this evil horde, she is supposed to become the savior of her people. There is intrigue, betrayal, journeys, unexpected twists, daring escapes and romance as Carson slowly builds up the suspense surrounding the inevitable final clash in which Elisa will either falter or prevail before the forces of darkness.

Overall, do yourself a gigantic favor and read this book. It's an enthralling and romantic coming-of-age fantasy that will sweep you up and hold you captive until the very last page.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
izabela
I had no idea what to expect from this story. A chosen one, a handsome king, an intriguing revolutionary, sounds familiar, right? Well, not in this case. I loved this book. I loved that the author took all these familiar elements and put them together in an incredibly unfamiliar way. I mean, when has a YA book ever ended the way this story ended? I can't think of any.

Elisa is a wonderful main character, likable even with her many flaws. She starts out so soft and sheltered, overweight, and naive. But she has an incredible mind and a strong will that take her far. She surprises everyone, including herself, regarding what she can do and how well she can do it. It was also so refreshing to read about an overweight girl who doesn't obsess about her weight. She just accepts it as a part of who she is.

She ends up making lifestyle changes that impact her weight, but only because she decides she wants more from life. Not because she's jealous of what other women look like. The jealousy is there, of course, but it doesn't define her. So very refreshing. Her transformation is all about who she is as a person. She becomes a reluctant leader, one who embraces her own power, and I love that she has such a strategizing mind. And yet, she never becomes supergirl. She retains many flaws and faults which she does her best to overcome, but her world doesn't come to an end if she can't. I absolutely loved her.

The pacing is quick, all the characters are interesting, and the mystery surrounding Elisa's 'chosen' status unfolds beautifully. And what happens to the love interest is so shocking! I am very curious to see where this story is going next.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of was between Cosme and Elisa toward the end. Specifically, I'd like to see exactly why Cosme disliked Elisa so much in the beginning. Their relationship progressed beautifully and realistically, and I just wanted it to come full circle. But still, it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

The religious aspects were handled well. God is a central part of the story, but in an atypical way. There are two groups who interpret God's will in different ways, not unlike some of today's religious groups, and both think they are right. So I am very curious how this will pan out. The next book, Crown of Embers, is due to come out fall of 2012, and I'll definitely be reading it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
wulanekay
It's very hard to get my thoughts in check regarding this one. Because of this, I think I'm going to switch things up and give you a simple yay or nay list. I want to explain the aspects I did like and the aspects I didn't like in the novel so that you can better understand my thoughts. To put it all in the average organized review would be really messy because I loved this book, but despite it's amazingness it has a lot of flaws.

Things I Liked

1. Elisa's Flaws
Elisa was overweight. That's all there is to it. I don't think I've ever come across an overweight main character before, and oddly enough, I loved it. I love flawed characters because it gives them a hint of humanity in an otherwise perfect world. While Elisa's plights didn't gain much sympathy from me because she still had it all despite her obesity, her journey to inadvertently bettering her life and assuming her leadership position when she was previously meek and scared was great.

2. Carson's Brutality
It breaks my heart that Carson was brutal in this one, but she truly was. She killed off a lot of people--some of which we really didn't want killed off. I can't name names, but while I was excited to see some gone I was truly heartbroken to see others. With that being said, I think the mourning of some important characters lasted a single day and then they were nearly forgotten. I did not like that.

3. Hector
Once Elisa follows Alejandro to his country, Hector was the only welcoming one of her. I greatly enjoyed his characterization because he was just a nice guy. He was knowledgeable, he was kind, he was strong and I loved him as a secondary character. As a loyal friend to King Alejandro and Captain of His Guard, he knows a lot about everything. While he is not a love interest in this book, I'm greatly hoping he is in book two. He was such a great character and was very complex. I loved him as a person.

4. The World-Building and Political Intrigue
It's complex and unique, though typically what you would expect of a high fantasy. The world is on the brink of war, there are lots of hide-outs and complicated lands to traverse while others have fortified walls. There are political alliances that are made and then broken and countries doing their best to avoid all of the bloodshed. This led to some really interesting political intrigue that kept me somewhat on my toes, but became really predictable near the end as the battles began to climax.

5. The Hint of Sorcery
While Elisa has not explored it much and there wasn't much sorcery until the end of the novel, I love magic and I'm hoping this plot point is further explored in book two.

Things I Didn't Like

1. Alejandro
Alejandro is the King that is mentioned above in the synopsis--the handsome worldly king whose country is in turmoil. I did not like him and I viewed him not only as a weak ruler and a weak man, but a weak character because there was nothing to like about him. He was very fake. He had a mistress openly despite his marriage. He was almost ashamed of this marriage. He ignored his wonderful little son, Rosario, and didn't know how to properly lead the biggest country in this book into battle. He was shallow and only cared about how someone looked physically and couldn't even recognize his own wife after several months spent apart. Alejandro had no redeeming qualities and fell into the stereotypically handsome-guy-is-stupid role. He redeemed himself somewhat near the end, though.

2. The Basis of Religion In This Story
Religion is not truly a basis, but considering the fact that Elisa has some type of Godstone gifted to her by God, there's a lot of praying and mention of Him. And I mean a lot. While I adjusted to it, it annoyed me somewhat in the beginning. This isn't a book that is trying to force religion down your throat, but because of the mythology religion is incredibly important. So while I eventually found it fascinating, I can understand how many can find it frustrating just as I did in the very beginning. So, as fascinating as the concept of someone being chosen every 100 years by God and having a stone put into them through a beam of life to fulfill a service to Him was fascinating, I think I would enjoy it more if there was less of a need for religion.

3. Important Characters Being Forgotten
This goes hand in hand with number two on the "things that I liked" list. Some major characters who perished were forgotten after a single day of mourning, but what I found to be even more odd was the lack of importance placed upon Elisa's elder sister and Father. They were a big deal in the beginning and they had all of two letter correspondences for about 95% of the novel. They were mentioned in passing! I don't understand it all. Characters were put on the back-burner and left there often.

4. Carson's Obsessed with Teeth
I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but almost every time we met a new character Carson went out of her way to mention their teeth somehow. Surprise surprise, most people had white teeth. Who would have known?! This is something that grated on my nerves. This world was on the brink of a war and there was a lot of death and all Elisa noticed at times were people's teeth.

All in all, I recommend this book to people who enjoy high fantasy novels with truly unique mythology and a strong main character that undergoes great growth. However, if religion is bothersome to you, this may not be the book for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leigh voss
Sooooo.....I REALLY REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK! Before reading this, I went on a romance novel binge. I probably read at least six romance novels. (I was at the beach...don't judge :P) After that, I was craving to read a book with a strong kick-ass heroine. I was so tired of reading about damsel-in-distress-I'm-so-weak women. So picked this from my goodreads TBR list....and read....and read....and didn't stop.
Elisa, the protagonist, is a princess who carries the godstone, a gift from God to the people of Earth to defend them against dark magic. Elisa's possessing of the godstone has put her in constant danger since she was a little girl. Of course, she never knew about the danger; her family kept her sheltered. When her father marries her off to a King from a far away land, everything changes.
Elisa is a fantastic character. She starts off incredibly insecure, fat, and depressed. She is fat because she eats when upset or stressed. This is partly why she is very insecure. She is, however, incredibly smart. Over the course of the book, Elisa changes. Some of these changes come at a great cost to her. But she perseveres. She starts out weak, and by the end of the book, she's so much stronger. What I liked most about Elisa was that she was so relatable. She was nowhere near perfect, but was a character that many teenaged girls can look up to. Hell, I'd like to be like her.
Girl of Fire and Thorns is really hard to review without giving spoilers. This book does have romance in it, although you'll be in for lots of surprises. Every time I started to predict what would happen next or how the book would end, Ms. Carson would go "Yeaaaah no" and throw in a huge twist. Girl of Fire and Thorns was nothing short of gripping and epic. It did involve religion, but it didn't feel overwhelming.
If you like epic stories with a strong, relatable, kick-ass heroine than you will LOVE this awesome historical fantasy book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nicole janeen jones
I liked this book way more than I thought I would. The first chapter introduced me to a princess, corsets, an arranged marriage to a foreign (and handsome) king, and a mysterious jewel lodged in the belly of the main character. I was -- deep sigh -- both tired (of princess/royalty stories) and skeptical (A jewel in her belly? O-kay...). Thankfully, I was blown away by the depth and richness of Elisa's story.

First off, this book carries many concepts I haven't read much of in YA (or in general): the main character is overweight, there are deep religious roots in place, and the world is inspired by Hispanic culture and language. I have to applaud Carson for not only tackling all of these concepts in one novel, but doing a damn good job of it!

Elisa's weight/size is a problem that feels real, and it affects much of her life. I saw one review complaning that Elisa's weight had too much focus throughout the story, but I disagree. The way that her size hindered her abilities, influenced the reactions and opinions of others, and sometimes bolstered her effect toward someone was so real. But even more telling was the way that it affected Elisa internally. Her disordered eating, her self destructive behavior, and her emotional state because of her weight was something that I could relate to. Due to this, Elisa felt so believable to me.

The religious aspect was also quite interesting to me. In this novel, God feels real because the Godstone inside Elisa's belly actually responds to her prayers. Elisa knows God is real because of her deep, intimate connection. In many stories, religion is used as a method of corruption for the people, and there is some of that in this tale, too. It was so delicately handled by Carson, though, that I was impressed. Each person or group believes they are doing "God's will," even though their plan differs from others, and Elisa is deeply aware of this. She has her own struggles with faith, doubts, religious studies, and her duty as a Godstone-bearer.

What I liked best about this book is that there are so many layers and each one feels rich, like one of those gourmet mousse cakes I used to make in pastry school. Elisa goes through so many transformations and they all feel relevant, important, and so darn real. She's also probably one of the most conscientious main characters I've gotten to know in a YA novel, and I very much appreciated her thoughtfulness.

I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for something different, and something with depth and character, or to anyone who just wants to read a good story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dalal morya
So, I almost bought this book about a week after it came out on my Nook, but for some reason I didn't; I got something else. And ever since then it's been at my bookstore, under the high fantasy sign . . . looking at me. I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it, I really wanted to, but sometimes things just get pushed back, I guess. But I wish I'd read it sooner, because it's a pretty awesome novel.

First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed Rae Carson's writing. It's very descriptive and easy to read. It's always so easy for me to get absorbed in something where the author beautifully describes castles and magic and things like that.

Elisa was probably my favorite part of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. She starts off as a very quiet girl with a LOT of insecurities about herself, despite being the "chosen" one. Even though she knows she has this important task to do in the future, she still feels very unworthy of completing it. Personally, I would be afraid of having this stone, too, because most of the bearers apparently don't live very long lives. Most of them die tragically. She is also overweight for the first third or so of the book, and I appreciated that she wasn't a gorgeous, blonde princess with no flaws. Not that there's anything wrong with people like that, it just made Elisa easier to connect to.

As time goes on, Elisa is sort of forced to step repeatedly out of her comfort zone, but her friends give her strength, and by the middle of the novel, she is not the same girl from the beginning. By the end, she changes so much that she could be a totally different person. My favorite kind of main character is the kind that grows throughout the story.

She was also pretty dang smart for the situations that she was put in, and she was very easy to root for. I have to say that I was very surprised with how the romance in this novel played out. Shocked, even. I was expecting a love triangle or something, but, no, not really. I can't say anything about romances without spoilers, but . . . jeez.

The world builing was very nicely done. I could picture the castles, the desert, the jungle and the towns quite nicely. The only thing that prevents me from giving this five stars is that I wasn't as absorbed in it it as I was with other books I give this rating, too. Also, I'm trying to stop handing out five stars like candy.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was an awesome book I'd recommend to people who like high fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brandi
You may remember Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorns making my list of four series that are wrapping up this year that I've been saving to devour in long gulps. As fortune would have it, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was thrown out as a potential YAcker title for April, and of course received my vote. I was so happy to have an excuse spurring me to read these books, particularly if I would have a place to discuss them. I was slow to start, however, and in my dawdling I became quite nervous. See, several YAckers had already read it and not been much impressed, and several more in the process of reading were quite annoyed by certain things. I began recalling in my mind the complaints I'd heard about Elisa, about the religion, and I questioned whether I would enjoy Carson's work as much as I'd initially predicted. I needn't have worried. I was immediately sucked into Carson's world, I was behind Elisa from the start, and I found the presence of faith in this book to be both intelligent and beautiful.

Admittedly, The Girl of Fire and Thorns falls into one of the fantasy tropes I've come to dread and avoid: the chosen one. However, Carson very carefully formed Elisa in a deprecating way that allowed her journey from uncertainty to leadership to be organic rather than predetermined. The most obvious way that she does so is through Elisa's weight issues-which is also one of the most divisive issues I've seen from those reacting to this book. When the story starts Elisa is heavy. Weight is a constant issue and struggle for her as one who has clearly turned to eating for comfort. To me, Elisa's constant awareness of her body is so real. Yes, it can get frustrating after a time to see her whining about her weight as she stuffs pastry down her throat, but it's also understandable. When you are overweight, it is a big deal. Especially if you are a teen, and I can imagine even more so if you're a teen placed in the spotlight as royalty and someone who is constantly judged on appearance with more meticulous observation than a `normal' young woman. The physical changes Elisa undergoes throughout also made sense to me in the context of the story, and I also don't see them as necessarily extreme as I'd expected.

Weight aside (though again, yay for a non-stereotypical female lead), what mattered to me most when seeking a connection with Elisa were her other characteristics. From the get-go I saw her as in possession of a level head and an inner strength, bearing a compassion and instinctive understanding of others that goes beyond her station as a Princess. Living in the shadow of her sister's strengths, her country's forced ignorance, and her husband's reluctance to action, it was so easy to see how Elisa's meager confidence would crumble as often as it would remain firm. Seeing her growth throughout The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a pleasure-it worked so masterfully because the obvious foundation was there, Elisa only needed the right situation and experiences to build upon. Indeed, I felt all of Carson's major characters were multifaceted and well developed, leading us and Elisa to change our perceptions as we got to know them.

The other main complaint I've heard in reaction to The Girl of Fire and Thorns is that it is too religious. I, however, saw the religion and the world and so deeply intertwined that they were insepperable, and this was its beauty. I have always had a certain taste for mythologies, whether of our world or those created by others. I love fantasies where the gods play an active roll, and in Carson's case, the mythology is everything. Perhaps readers were made uncomfortable by a monotheistic religion because it drew parallels more easily to major religions (namely Catholicism) in our own world? In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I felt Carson played adeptly with the idea of faith, and power of belief-how it can drive humanity to do both horrible and great things, how people will always interpret the will of God, but will rarely truly understand. The religious atmosphere worked hand in hand with the Spanish influence of the world building to construct a world that was both unique and wonderfully real.

Carson's writing is so natural, it is easy to be caught up and swept away in Elisa's story. Told in the first person present tense, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is powerfully intimate and immediate, fluid in a way that makes it easy to discount the difficulty of writing well in this format. However, there were also some hiccups with the writing that kept me from really falling head over heels. When I realized that Carson wasn't afraid to kill off characters, I initially cheered, but by the story's end I became worried. I fear that Carson is using convenient ways of ousting conflict when she writes herself into a corner that would be tricky to extricate oneself from otherwise. In terms of the climax, I found it to be simultaneously poetic and fitting, but absolutely silly. I also felt the last two or three pages of the book really brought it down for me-it became too blatant in its message, spelling things out rather than letting the reader understand Elisa's growth on their own. Sadly, I also have to admit that I am also not at all a fan of the cover art for this series-the gems with the model's faces just push it over the edge into embarrassingly cheesy for me.

When all is added up in the end, there is certainly much more that I loved of The Girl of Fire and Thorns than not. It is a book that is solely Elisa's, setting up for a series that can branch greater stories, connections, and romance, but only after she has become who she must be. It is a story of survival, war, and faith-and you must enjoy these core tenants to appreciate this book. A promising start to a fantasy series, and hopefully, a fantastic career.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
denise
This book was totally unlike any other fantasy I've ever read, both in characters and in plot. I'll talk about characters first.

First, Elisa was not beautiful (and not in that "she doesn't think she's beautiful but guys keep falling all over themselves when she appears" kind of way). Second, she was not highly skilled. She bore the Godstone, but she had absolutely no idea why or what to do with it. And third, she had a steep learning curve. She didn't find herself to have a mysteriously strong aptitude for any sort of noticeable skill. Basically, what she had was a connection to God that she didn't understand, decent intelligence, and a desire to do the right thing so she could fulfill her service. That was pretty much it. It was refreshing to see a fantasy protagonist with no major advantages over the other characters (save the Godstone, but again, she spent most of the book being utterly flummoxed by it).

Then there was the plot. It had a decidedly religious and philosophical slant, which I wasn't really expecting going into this book. It didn't preach any specific religion (that I am aware of anyway), but the overall themes of God and prayer and faith in an overarching purpose that is bigger than any of us can understand were huge. I found this totally different than other fantasy I've read, and although this wasn't by any means a preachy or religious book, I liked the way it tackled the complex issues of religion and faith and trying to understand the will of God. It did it within the world of fantasy and magic, so I don't think it would turn off non-religious readers, but for me, I enjoyed a fantasy book that both fulfilled my need for magic and adventure, in addition to making me really think and question.

Of course, this book is not all religion and philosophy, not by a long shot. Elisa goes through a HUGE transformation, both physically and mentally, throughout the course of the book. The adventure is sweeping, the world-building highly unique and interesting, and the danger is palpable. Rae Carson was not afraid to put her characters in tough and terrible situations, and that gave the book a gravity that kept me fully engaged.

There were a couple downsides to the book. A couple of the characters I was never able to fully warm to, and it seemed like I was supposed to. I thought Elisa's development was one of the most realistic hero journeys I've ever read, but it almost came at the expense of the other characters' development. There's one exception to that, and it was actually a pretty secondary character, but I loved him in the brief time I got to know him. However, he disappeared for the entire middle of the book, and doesn't reappear until the final act. So that was somewhat disappointing. I hope we see a lot more of him in the sequel, Crown of Embers (which releases September 18, 2012).

I did find the climax a tiny bit hard to swallow. I don't want to spoil anything, so let's just say that I was expecting it to be...more difficult. After the way everything is set up, it feels like it should have been more difficult. But one big thing happens, and then everything else is just...over. Seems like it should have been messier than that.

But, as I said, that was just a tiny complaint.

Overall, Girl of Fire and Thorns (which, if made into an acronym, is "GOFAT," which seems like kind of a subliminal encouragement Elisa, who is rather portly at the start of the book) was a refreshing and highly engaging fantasy, with a unique and interesting world, a complex plot, and a fantastic main character.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ben howard
I didn't fall head over heels in love with The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I did zip right through it (it's over 400 pages, but it felt much shorter). Elisa starts out as a very depressed girl, but I saw many redeeming qualities in her. She was smart and applied her intelligence to learning about military tactics, people, politics, and the history of her faith. I loved seeing her put these skills into action.

Part one is slower and more focused on the day-to-day events of Elisa's life in court. I loved the small triumphs Elisa scored in part one and the subtle alliances she was forging based on the strength of her personality. I thought the character development was well done in this part. Part two is significantly more fast-paced and action-oriented. It was exciting with battles, struggles, strategies, and pretty decent antagonists. If you're bored with part one, try to stick it out until part two.

Elisa narrates The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so the world is presented from her perspective. This was an interesting way to establish the world and religion because Elisa has been raised with an extremely censored and narrow understanding of the world that slowly changes as the book progresses. This easily could have made her an obnoxious character to read, but Elisa is an intelligent girl and so she quickly absorbs and considers the new information like the scholar she is. I liked seeing the history unfold this way--first establishing the world, and then turning it on its head. Elisa's drive to seek out and understand the history and purpose of the godstone was mirrored by my own interest to delve into this facet of the story.

The religion of the world does play a significant role in the story and things like prayer and god's plan do get a lot of page time. Though the religion is entirely fictional, I'm sure allusions can be drawn to real religions. I don't want to draw those connections (been there, done that, wrote the paper) and I just want to be entertained now so I didn't try to read between the lines. The religious aspects can be easily read as fantasy world building and the faith, culture, and history of those fantasy peoples. I didn't find it preachy.

There are two love interests in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but this is not a love triangle. The first potential suitor is Elisa's husband, and he's pretty much a jerk. The second potential love interest might appeal to teens, but to me (very much not a teen anymore) he was very, very young. He was sweet, but I'd have to give him the, "I like you like a younger brother" line. His personality also wasn't developed enough to make me have any strong feelings about him.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns ends well enough as a standalone, but it is clear there is more to come. There are many more secrets still left to uncover about the godstone, and while the battle is over, the war still looms. I do plan on reading the sequel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin s
I'm a fantasy fan. No secret. I grew up devouring book after book by Tamora Pierce in particular, so I was especially excited to see that she had a blurb on the front of my ARC copy. "Engrossing," she said.

Oh, Tamora. I AGREE.

The protagonist, Elisa, seems a bit of a hopeless case. She wallows in her self-pity and feelings of inadequacy as the bearer of the Godstone. Why did God pick her? she wonders. Surely she isn't good enough.

But there's a fire in Elisa that she doesn't see at first. Yes, she drowns her sorrows in too many pastries (haven't we all been there?) but when confronted with duty and danger, Elisa rises again and again to meet the challenges, until her character is so developed and confident that I wanted to pump my fist in the air and whoop for her. Yes, Elisa! Go, girl.

The land that Elisa lives in comes alive: The desert, the government details, the religion, language, food (do not read when hungry!), the clothing... it is clear that Rae Carson was careful with her world-building. I felt like I had fallen into the war and landscape of Joya d'Arena at times. Terrifying as it was (their enemies do not mess around), I didn't want to come out.

Every time I thought I knew where this story was going, I was wrong. I have never enjoyed being incorrect so much in my life.

Rating: 5/5. I couldn't believe it when I found that Rae Carson was a debut author. I felt like saying: "Go ahead. Pull the other one." Because the Girl of Fire and Thorns is absolutely masterfully crafted.

- See more at: [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrew haskins
You know those books that compel you to keep reading despite everything else you have going on in life?

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was like that for me.

I mean, I started reading during lunch at work, and I ended up eating more slowly so that I could read more. And then I went home and pretended to accomplish normal things, like making dinner and doing dishes. And then I sat down at my computer, thinking I'd just read another chapter... and I didn't stop until I was finished, well past my bedtime.

Wow.

So in the interest of not getting all fangirly-incoherent, here's a lovely, five-point list of what makes THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS one of my favorite fantasy books... ever. (And a spectacularly standout debut novel!)

PROPHECY A-GO-GO

Prophesies are scary things. First of all, there's the whole self-fulfillment idea, and then there's the whole possibility of epic failure. Talk about pressure!

Princess Elisa of Orovalle is the bearer of the Godstone. People start religions about her prophecy, which states that once in a century, God chooses a bearer (basically, a jewel appears in their belly button as an infant (not kidding)), and thus, they're destined to do something great. Vague and intimidating much?

Personally, I love reading about the push-pull of a person wrestling with destiny, and how that struggle changes them. (Is that sadistic?) This prophecy is extra-troublesome because it's so vague that Elisa has absolutely no idea what her great act of service might be -- but it's revered enough that just possessing the Godstone puts her life in danger from people who might want to take it from (read: cut it out of) her. Eek!

CHARACTER

Lets get the much-talked-about thing out of the way: Elisa is an overweight princess. Though I was happy to see an overweight protag, I did get a little annoyed with her constantly hating on her body in the beginning. I found it very realistic, though, how her self-image affected her arranged marriage to King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena, the event that begins the novel.

On the other hand, when (due to some dangerous adventures) she loses a bit of weight and becomes more fit, I was soooo happy to see that the girl still loved her food. I mean, she's a total foodie and appreciates a well-made meal, whether she's overweight or just delightfully curvy. Heck, yes.

And there's so much more to her than her body type: she's witty, brave, intelligent, and much stronger than she often realizes. Throughout the book, her character transformation into a woman of conviction and action was awesome to read.

Aside from that: I love love love Rae Carson's characters --- whether friend or enemy or frenemy, they're multifaceted and flawed and ever-changing, basically everything you hope and dream for characters to be. Even side characters surprised me delightfully with their depth and angles.

I have to admit, I started reading the book and automatically pegged the characters, "Ok this one's the enemy, this one's the love interest, this one's the surrogate mother figure..." and I was wrong. Or right only for a short time. Halfway through the book, I stopped making assumptions.

And I'll be brief for the last three:

WORLDBUILDING

Loved it, believed it, and could totally picture it. The countries, traditions, religions, food, clothing -- it's my favorite kind of historical fantasy. I want to explore more of it! And the political conflicts felt very authentic and nuanced.

TOUGH STUFF AND GENERAL BAD*SSERY

Death: There's a solid amount of it. Some of it was expected (there's a war going on, after all), and some was totally shocking. Rae Carson didn't coddle Elisa. The Godstone is a dangerous thing to possess, so bad things happen to Elisa and those around her.

On the upside, she becomes a total bad*ss and a true hero via combating all that danger. It's awesome to witness the development, and it's a totally natural one, because she had a bad*ss inside her from the get-go.

And though the book starts out with things happening to Elisa, she quickly becomes a proactive heroine, which is excellent.

TRILOGY GOODNESS

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS could easily be a stand-alone, which I just love. (No big cliffhanger!) But Carson set up the end so that we can see that Elisa will have plenty of trials ahead and that her life as a queen and Godstone-bearer will take many new twists and turns. And because she is made of awesome, I can't wait to see what adventures she embarks on next.

[...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danja
Before I read this book I had heard great things about it, and I was really looking forward to reading it. When I started it, I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it. It started off kind of slow, but after you read it you realize that it was really necessary because you do need the background and the time to get to know Elisa so you can fully appreciate what she goes through later in the book, and how much she truly changes. Elisa started off as a pampered, spoiled, grossly overweight 16 year old princess who is most happy when she is blending into the background. She doesn't like to draw attention to herself because of her size, and because she feels totally inadequate next to her older sister, who is skinny and beautiful, and her father, the king, who seems to ignore her most of the time. Unfortunately, that is going to change because she is entering into an arranged marriage with the king of another province, Alejandro, and will become queen to his people, and stepmother to his young son. She uses food to self-medicate, and seems to stuff herself every chance that she gets. The only thing that she considers special about herself is the fact that she has a Godstone in her belly button, which she received on her naming day when she was about a week old. The Godstone is only given to a person once every 100 years, and that person is said to be destined for greatness. Elisa is a very devout girl and has a special relationship with God because of this, and I really liked that about her. I will state right here that this book has a lot of religion in it, and if you don't like that, you may not like this book. I thought it was integral to the storyline, and I think that if people give it a try, they may be surprised.

After Elisa has been in Alejandro's palace for about a month, she is kidnapped by some people who want to use her, and her Godstone, to end a war that has been going on for a while. She is forced out of her life of luxury and pampering and is taken across the desert with little food and lots of exercise, and she finds within herself a strength that she never dreamed she would ever have.

When I read a book one of the most important aspects for me is whether or not there was any character growth. If the character doesn't grow and change throughout the book, I usually don't enjoy it very much. I can honestly say that one of the reasons I found myself loving this book as much as I did was because of the personal growth of Elisa. This book is the definition of character growth!! Elisa changes from a pampered child bride into a strong leader and queen from the first page to the last. And she isn't the only one to grow. The supporting characters were so well written that they were just as important to the story as Elisa was. Rae Carson is so good at describing all of her characters that you feel like you know them, and you definitely become invested in every single one of them. They behave in a very realistic manner, even when they are being petulant and sarcastic!

I loved this book so much that I literally stayed up half the night because I couldn't put it down! Even when I thought the beginning was a bit slow I couldn't stop reading it! Once the action picks up, it really doesn't stop. You think you have things figured out and you know where the story is going when Ms. Carson throws you a curveball, and then you're even more intrigued! Every time I said, "I'm just going to read to the end of this section and then I'm going to bed," I couldn't do it because something would happen that had me on the edge of my seat and I had to read to the next section, and then the next, and then the next! I totally blame Ms. Carson for my being tired today, but the book is such a satisfying read that I would do it all over again! The end of the book was such a whirlwind and I thought it was just the perfect ending for this story.

In summary, I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story and I am SO happy that I got the chance to read it :D
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sandyland81
I really enjoyed this book. A lot. I wanted to throw it across the room twice. It broke my heart on more than one occasion but it made Elisa stronger for it. The Show-And-Tell factor (as I've seen others call it) bothers me. As a reader, you don't want to be told how someone is, like her husband King Alejandro, you want to be able to "see" it. Telling me he's not brave is so much different than showing me he isn't brave. From reading other reviews I see that this is the biggest complaint from this book and I definitely agree. I mean, reading a book is all about us imagining it not being told everything, you know?

The story was amazing. I had trouble putting it down because I was so interested in what was going to happen next. I loved the characters just as much. She definitely had no problem creating an intriguing plot line or characters to make the story flow better. What also blew my mind was here you have this young character, Elisa, who was wedded off to another Kingdom with no say in the matter. What makes the situation worse she's been living in the shadow of her older sister. Her sister you can see as a leader and a great one as that. Elisa is just a normal 16 year old girl (well as normal as one can be for being a princess) and thrown into this world she never imagined herself. Yet, she's never done anything spectualar or rememberable, as her sister has but she was chosen by God for a greater good. Many times she questions his judgement but the growth you see Elisa endure throughout this novel is remarkable. You look at her in the first chapter and then turn around to look at her in the final chapter, you'd never expect its the same, young Elisa. If she's grown this much in just the first installment, who knows what we'll see from her in the next.

I'm not a religious person so at first I thought I would get annoyed with the religious factor of this story, but it never once bothered me. It's not like the author is trying to push a religion on you (which I've seen in other books) but its just another factor to the story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
arizonagirl
This is a beautifully written first novel by Rae Carson. It is reminiscent of a younger, more toned down storytelling type such as Jacqueline Carey is known for in her Kushiel series. The language is so vivid and imaginative. I can picture every single thing that is happening in the book, like a little movie playing out in my head.

"Beside me, Ximena's gray bun has come loose and her hair swings below her shoulders."

I am immediately intrigued by this gem that is somehow located in Elisa's bellybutton area. But I am guessing that is the point! It's very interesting how it reacts to Elisa's emotions and actions with heat and cold, almost as if it is a living creature, yet hard as stone.

I think Elisa, the main character and heroine of this novel, is one of my favourite female characters in a long time. She is not perfect. She is not the ultimate slender and stunningly beautiful lead that is most often seen. She is "lumpy" and "awkward" and "clumsy", and she is much more likely for readers to be able to understand. Her sister is the family favourite and as such Elisa is often ignored and pushed aside, invisible.

One of my favourite things about this book is that not only is Elisa described as an overweight girl, but it's not just pointed out once in the beginning of the novel and then never mentioned again, hoping the reader will forget she isn't perfect. It's brought up over and over again throughout the whole story, without being too obvious. It is noted in her actions, and in the way the people around her perceive her and react to her. It is amazingly woven in.

"I feel so slow as I run toward my husband, my belly and breasts bouncing painfully with each step."

As the story progress and certain things occur it is interesting how the author even works in some fluctuations in her weight, eating style and overall appearance and character as her life forces her down different paths. She experiences amazing growth throughout the story and ultimately works toward and deserves the strong role her character is placed in. And it's not just Elisa, all characters get equal treatment from the author with vivid descriptions and depth of emotion and overall character development. Every character is their own person who exists and struggles with their own stories, emotions and experiences their own growth.

There is enough action in this story to keep even the most overactive boys sitting eagerly on the edge of their seat. Add to that all the mystery, intrigue and politics and you have the making of a great novel!

Some parts of the story are highly predictable and therefore take the shock and awe out of what takes place. Also, many of the areas I found lacking flow and very jolting to the reader, hopping from one part of the story to another without any kind of warning pause or break. There are also some minor editing issues with missing words, incorrect words and spelling errors which jolt the reader from their reading flow, but as this is an ARC it is to be expected.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kevtm
The writing is excellent (even though I don't like present tense). The characters are likeable and interesting. The world-building is unique. It feels like a European culture in a Central American setting. I also think the faith/religion aspect is really well done. It's not preachy, yet it's integral to the plot. There's adventure, love, politics, and--miracle of miracles--the correct use of comma splices (only 2 or 3 in the whole book, used for impact, with short sentences of similar structure). Bravo, Carson!

I'm not sure I like the way the author deals with the self-proclaimed "fat girl" issues and changes, but that's very subjective. I think the author misses some opportunities in one abrupt death scene. Elisa, the main character, also overcomes her underconfidence perhaps a bit too quickly.

Despite these subjective issues, the book is rich and interesting and well written. Plus, it actually ends. I like a series to consist of stand-alone stories that build on each other, instead of having cliffhanger endings. This fit the bill: I'm satisfied, and don't HAVE to read more, but I WANT to. The perfect balance.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gloria
An enthralling debut! Rae Carson's beautiful story telling is memorizing, enticing and completely addicting. Once I started reading this enchanting story I couldn't stop. Her world building is vividly detailed, her characters well written and realistically portrayed and her storyline is engrossing. The Girl of Fire & Thorns is a fabulous blend of fantasy, adventure, love, friendship, magic, war and so much more.

I don't even know where to begin my review. There are so many things that I loved about this book and I was totally blown away with it. Really this book is a complete package of awesomeness. Everything about this book drew me in and made me feel like I was apart of the story, and I credit that to Rae's writing talent. Rae drew me in emotionally and mentally, because she's not afraid to test her characters. She gives them grief, heartache, love, terror, confusion, pain, doubt, and she's not afraid to make them hurt and suffer. Through that, I was able to relate to them more and see the changes and the growth the characters make through out the story. For me, Elisa was the character who stole the show.

Elisa is an amazingly, well written character. I love that I was able to relate to her and feel the emotions she felt. I admire her and her strength and courage she has through out the story. I know I'm being vague on certain events that shape her character and who she becomes, but I really don't want to spoil her story for anyone. Elisa is a true heroine! Her character arc is one of the best ones I've read this year. Can I just say that I love that Rae created a character who isn't the skinny, drop dead gorgeous girl. Not saying Elisa isn't beautiful, but I love that despite everything going on around her, deep down she's really just a normal girl who isn't worried about her waste line and enjoys eating a delicious pasty every now and then.

With the rich mythology, history and well done religious undertones, Rae was able to introduce a great cast of secondary characters. Some characters I loved, some I despised, some shocked me and I liked the like Elisa, Rae kept me on my toes with trying to figure out who's a friend and who's the enemy. I enjoyed the twists that are thrown into the story, and romance that's present through out. Really I should say love that's through out the story, because there's varies element of love that are touched on with a couple different guys. One of the relationships that I adored was the love and respect that Elisa and Alejandro have for each other. I won't say anymore about them other than their relationship is really unique and I enjoyed watching how it blossomed.

This is one of those books that never gave me a moment to sit back and wonder what the heck was going on. It's constantly moving and I felt like I was watching a movie with the way everything unfolded. The storyline is well paced, full of action and it held my attention the entire time. It's one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to re-read it, and I'm still thinking about it long after I've read it. It's definitely a WOW book for me and one I highly recommend picking up. I am so thrilled to know this is only the first book in what I think will be a very popular trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky simpson
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley(dot)com. This was a spectacular book, a really phenomenal fantasy read. I was drawn into the story right away and enjoyed practically every moment of it. This is the first book in a planned trilogy.

Elisa is the Chosen One, she bears the God Stone in her navel. She is also the youngest daughter and is pampered, kind but a bit lazy and overweight. When her marriage to a King of the neighboring kingdom is planned, she doesn't know what to expect. She doesn't want to rule and she doesn't want to love her husband; but she wants to finally live up to her title as the Chosen One and wants her husband to love her. When Elisa is kidnapped shortly after arriving in the new kingdom everything she knows changes. She will embark on a forced quest to find what it really means to be the Chosen One.

The world in this book is a desert world, which was fun to read about. You don't see many fantasy books set in the desert. The world is intricate and well built and I really enjoyed it.

Elisa is an inspiring character. In the beginning she is kind and smart, but lazy and untried. She changes so much over the course of the book, her struggle to become something more really captured my attention and my heart. The fact that she partakes in this struggle even knowing that most of the Chosen Ones fail and die, just made her all the more courageous. Elisa's attitude is awesome; she never despairs and always makes the best of what she is given.

All of the side characters are so well done, they are all so well filled out and have complex lives of their own. I wished we could have spent a bit more time getting to know them all and hopefully we will in future books.

The descriptions are wonderful, making the world and the characters easy to picture. The action scenes incredibly well done and the pacing perfect. I was impressed at the breadth of the story and at how well the main story line is tied up in this book, but still eager to see what Elisa does next.

There were a couple things about this book that bothered me. Firstly I wasn't a big fan of Elisa's husband, the King. After all Elisa went through I just wanted so much more for her than this King. It's not that he was evil or even mean, he just wasn't enough for her. I am hoping in future books they will grow more as a couple and her husband will be able to learn from his weaknesses.

Secondly religion and God are extremely prominent in this book. I am not saying this is good or bad; although I am not usually a fan of books that rely heavily on religion as a plot device. Religion was the driving factor for a lot of the characters' decisions. Just something to mention. The religion was actually a necessary component of this world and really seemed to be story driven (some of this story seems a bit based on the Crusades); it's not like the author was trying to lecture readers or force religion on readers. But it was definitely there, Elisa's main form of combating her opponents in by praying and there is a ton of it in this book.

Overall this was just a fantastic adventure fantasy of sorts. There was political intrigue, a wonderful world, action, adventure, romance, and a coming of age tale that will capture every-one's heart. If you are a fantasy fan you have to read this book. I adored it and cannot wait to read what the next book has in store for Elisa.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren bern
Elisa is the second princess of Orovalle, and has always felt inferior to her beautiful, intelligent, and politically capable older sister. But surprisingly, it's Elisa who is arranged to be married to the young king of the great country of Joya d'Arena, a situation Elisa is quite unprepared for. She may be bookish and religious rather than imperious and confident, but Elisa does have one thing that her sister does not: the Godstone. Given to her on her naming day and destining her for a great act of service, the Godstone leads Elisa on a journey full of danger, love, and surprising outcomes that she never could have foreseen.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a magnificent fantasy debut, and it's hard to say which is more spectacular: the setting, or heroine Elisa. Carson's world is so vibrant and three-dimensional, with wonderful descriptions of the food, decoration, language, mannerisms, and lifestyles of the people of Orovalle and those from all over Joya d'Arena. Everything has a wonderful Spanish influence that makes this tale unique and authentic. These lands also have their own religion, a bit akin to Christianity, which ties in with the Godstone Elisa carries and is a prominent part of the story. Elisa herself is a lovely character to observe as she starts off her adventure an insecure, plump girl uncertain about her future and her place in Joya d'Arena. She combats those feelings with pastries and self-deprecating humor, unsure of how to act despite her intelligence. Circumstances beyond her control rip her from comfortable surroundings a second time, and this time Elisa is forced to face her unwanted future and duties, beginning a transformation into the powerful, incisive leader that was lurking beneath her surface the entire time. Elisa's mistakes and doubt about her destiny as the bearer of the Godstone are quite similar to the doubts we all face in life, making her a very sympathetic character, and all the more likable when she triumphs over her own indecision and the real enemies she faces.

There are also many different and interesting supporting characters in this book that make Elisa's journey complicated and rather entertaining: Cosme and Humberto, enemies who aren't at all what they first appear to be, Alejandro, Elisa's husband who is a stranger to her, and Lord Hector, guard and surprising ally to Elisa in her new foreign home. Their presence complicates and lightens the story in different manners, and each one teaches Elisa important lessons about life and being a leader. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a beautiful and impeccably written novel, with heart, suspense, action, betrayal, and triumph--all of the makings of a truly epic fantasy.

Cover Comments: I really love this cover! I like how the blue stone is on the cover, like the Godstone, and how it shows the girl's reflection, and the magical feel to the images surrounding the stone. Also, the font for the title is just awesome. This is a beautiful cover!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
galmurphy
Wow. Just...wow. I really, really love high fantasy. I just said in a recent post that it's probably my second favorite genre. I just don't read it often because it's a little time consuming (but so worth it) and there just doesn't seem to be that many awesome high fantasy YA's. Until now. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is utterly amazing from page 1. Sometimes it's hard to get your bearings in the beginning of a fantasy, what with being introduced to so much world building and information. That's wasn't the case with this book. The use of foreign words took a few pages to get used to, but after that there was no looking back.

The element that made this book so completely compelling was Elisa. She was an incredible character from the very beginning, but she had no idea of all these things she was capable of. It took getting her away from all of the comforts in her life for her to start really understanding who she is. The development from Elisa in the beginning of the book to Elisa in the middle of the book (not to mention the end!) is astounding. This is some of the best character development I have ever read. Plus, is she completely loveable and relateable. She has 'flaws' that you don't find in YA often but need to be in YA so much more. She is very intelligent. I love that she made decisions that weren't always good for the individual but for the greater good. Sometimes I lose patience with characters that won't make tough decisions because someone might get hurt. Really, I just loved Elisa. She was everything I adore in a protagonist.

This book is epic. I don't like using that word because it's way overused, but that's the only way to explain it. By the time you get to the end of the book you feel like you have been on all these journeys with the characters. It's exhausting , and unbelievable, but really incredible. I'm amazed at how much story is in this book and how every single second of it was great. The plot, the Godstones, the world building was remarkable and spot on. Rae Carson is not afraid to do painful things to keep the story going, I absolutely love that. Carson has created something kind of magical with this debut. All of you must read it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
karen boyce
"The Girl of Fire and Thorns" is a young adult fantasy novel. It's written in first person, present tense, and it's a quick read. It's the first book in a series, and this book did wrap up the main plot lines by the end.

In some ways, the story wasn't very realistic. For example, she only knows military strategy from books, yet seasoned warriors take her (good) advice on strategy. And no one told her that her life was in danger or why she was being married away as, apparently, they thought she'd be safer if she didn't know about it. Yet these aspects worked together to create an Elisa that had no confidence in herself since no one else did, yet she saw glimpses of what she could be when people obeyed her war orders.

Though considered "magic" related, the Godstone didn't actually do much beyond give her a small amount of protection against the enemy. (It does more in the second book.) Everyone in the world apparently worships the same god--called God, but it's a fantasy deity--yet they have different ideas about what this god's will is and how the chosen one is to be used. This is a source of much of the conflict in the story.

I liked that Elisa decided to stop "being useless" and do whatever she could to make a difference, even if it was something small. She learned a lot about being a leader. (Unfortunately, in the second book, she reverted back to being passive and useless again. *sigh*)

Elisa falls in love very easily with any guy that gives her kind attention, but the men that she likes don't tend to last long since she constantly went from one dangerous situation into another. The main reason I was interested in the next book was curiosity if her next love interest--one of the few really intriguing characters--manages to survive that book.

The book was exciting with suspense from relationship tensions, physical danger, and discovering more about the Godstone and the different people groups in this world. The characters and cultures were interesting and varied.

There was no sex. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable fantasy novel
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
aura
I was intrigued by the idea of this book, and there were parts I really enjoyed, but some parts were less interesting. First of all, I didn't like that there was so much emphasis on weight. It almost seemed like the biggest character change was that Elisa lost some weight. <spoiler>Admittedly, she did change in other ways, too, by becoming the leader of the Maleficio and trusting her worth. But she isn't really given much credit for this, since mostly she did these things because she prayed and God acted through her godstone.

In terms of the romantic subplot, I don't really like that she's still stuck with the weakling king, who didn't even recognize her when she got back. Elisa's real romantic interest got killed, which is totally fine, and I can see that Carson is trying to create some kind of relationship between Elisa and the guard, but I'm not sure that I really buy it. </spoiler>

I was annoyed that the only driving force in the action was prayer and god. There is a place for that sort of thing in fantasy, but it seemed like the only reason Elisa was able to be a hero was because she was destined for it because god said so, and that just doesn't make for a strong character or a strong story, in my opinion. I would have liked to have seen her decide something without god prompting her to do it first. She should know something is right because she KNOWS it, not just because the stone is hot or cold or god told her so.

I think this was a promising story and not terrible writing, but there were too many weaknesses in character development for a higher rating. I might read the next book in the series, and I might not, since my feelings are pretty lukewarm about it in general.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shanley
The Girl of Fire and Thorns continually surprised me. When I first started reading the book, I did not know what to expect. Then Elisa had an arranged, and I thought the story would be about how her and her Husband got to know each other. The story turned out to be much less about them as a couple and much more about Elisa.

I liked this so much more! I wanted so badly to like Elisa's husband (the King) but I just didn't. He was weak and he really bugged me. I really disliked how his attitude towards Elisa abruptly changed at the end of the book. Without giving too much away, Elisa went through a number of "changes" throughout the book. All different kind of changes really, but I especially disliked the King's reaction to the new Elisa.

I loved Elisa the whole time! I thought she was a great heroine. very strong, even when she didn't think she was, and smart. I love smart girls.

There were so many things in this book that I did not see coming. The Girl of Fire and Thorns certainly knows how to keep you on your toes and hold your attention! I loved it!

There were so many men in Elisa's life. I liked all of them except the king. Now, I have no idea if I am alone in this thought or not- but I would really like to see more of Hector in the next book!! ;) A lot more actually. hehe

This book was so unique and action packed, and most importantly beautifully written. I enjoyed watching the story unfold in such a fluid way. The words just leap off the page and surround you.

There is a lot of religion in the book, so if that bugs you this book might not be for you. But I really urge readers to pick it up and give it a chance. I think you will love it just as much as I did. (I don't normally read books where religion is a prominent theme, for reference.)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a great read!

<...>
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen healey
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is magical, inspirational and just simply amazing. I read this book last year and fell in love with the writing. This is Rae's debut novel and I am completely captivated from page one. The story is extremely engrossing, I stayed up all night to finish this book. Honestly, just not one thing I would change about it. Le sigh.

Princess Elisa is a wonderful character. She doesn't think much of herself at first, but slowly her character evolves. She is strong and beautiful and her character's development is the best part of the story. Elisa overcomes many obstacles that she never thought possible. And I must say, I love that she is pleasantly plump. So many main characters in young adult books aren't described with any meat on their bones. Or maybe they are and I can't think of any. Regardless... Loved.

Really, this is a fabulous adventure story. It just felt so... magical. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is full of complex characters that keep your head in the story. And the plot is so driven- always with captivating action or dialogue. The world building is also so intricately woven that it vividly popped off the pages.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns isn't a quick read at 432 pages, but you'll zip through it because it is brilliant and quickly paced. I adore this novel, loved it. If you're a fan of young adult fantasy adventures, I highly recommend this one. It is a beautiful story!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jackie ryan
I don't even know where to start with this book. It was fabulous, and at the same time it kind of made me pull away a bit and ask, "What?"

Elisa is the chosen one. She literally has a Godstone in her navel. This stone is almost like a link to God, and it directs her in some of her more challenging moments. The Godstone means that she has been chosen to do something amazing! But she has no idea what, and she doesn't know if her task will ever be completed. Many of the Chosen don't live long enough to complete their tasks.

On her 16th birthday, Elisa marries a kind and handsome man who is the king of a neighboring country. When they reach his kingdom a few weeks later (with much trial and hardship), Elisa soon learns he means to introduce her merely as a "guest" and wishes to keep their marriage a secret. A marriage that was nothing but a contract for more troops in a war that is fast approaching.

And thus begins an epic tale of a girl who must overcome her self-doubts and find the courage to save a nation. And yes, I mean epic.

I read this book a month ago, and I can still see the story in my head. It was that good. The author does an amazing job of giving the reader enough detail so that we can see what's going on, but not so much that I'm flipping the pages looking for dialogue.

Elisa is the kind of character that grows naturally, and yet she still has her self-doubts and lack of confidence, even though she's slaying the dragon. Hypothetically speaking. I thought she was so real, she could have been the girl next door instead of the girl of fire and thorns....:)

Battles and war are always a little difficult for me to follow because there is always so much history shoved into a tiny little space. However, with The Girl of Fire and Thorns, the war history was only a tiny bit tiresome, so that's pretty good.

I sometimes had a hard time figuring out who was the bad guy and who really was good. There were a few times I thought a good guy was about to betray Elisa, and he never did. That's a little confusing as a reader. I like a surprise, but I don't want to be constantly on guard for something that never happens.

This is a very, very sweet love story as well. And that was one of my most favorite and least favorite parts of the book. I won't say more because it will give away too much.

This was a clean book with battle violence. If you're like me, you'll be heavily invested emotionally. This is apparently a trilogy, and you can bet your bottle rocket I'll be reading the other books in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary helen
Imagine if you were the Chosen One... but had no idea what you were destined to do, and had no discernible skills. Such a girl is at the heart of "Fire and Thorns," a richly textured fantasy about a seemingly ordinary princess who is destined to be involved in much, much more. Rae Carson obviously put a lot of love into her fantasy world, as well as a heroine who defies most of the "princess" tropes.

Once every century, a child is marked with the divine Godstone, showing that they are destined to serve God somehow. Princess Elisa is its newest bearer.

And because of a treaty, she is reluctantly married to beautiful, kind King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena. But her new homeland is a strange, not-very-welcoming place, especially since the marriage is being kept secret for mysterious reasons. There are plenty of backstabbers, rivals and even a brewing war with Invierne.

And in Joya d'Arena, Elisa soon discovers religious truths about the Godstone that nobody in her country would tell her. But when a band of revolutionaries kidnaps her, she finds herself fighting Invierne's animagi -- and a terrible magic that uses Godstones and blood. Now Elisa must not only save herself, but her new country as well.

Sorcery, religion, politics, ancient texts and a legendary jewel that channels God's will -- nobody can accuse Rae Carson of writing a book without plot. In fact, "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" is dense with brewing events that eventually explode into battle, with colorful, richly descriptive prose ("robes as white as quartz").

Carson also came up with a thoroughly likeable, unstereotypical princess. Elisa is a chubby, shy, studious girl at the story's beginning, self-conscious about her weight and intimidated by her sister and Alejandro. While she grows in confidence and strength, she never stops feeling like a real person who gets embarrassed and awkward.

And the world Carson comes up with is pretty fascinating as well. It seems to be based on Spanish and Middle-Eastern cultures, complete with a sort of pseudo-Catholicism that features heavily in the plot. It's not preachy, but Carson isn't afraid to tackle the tough questions of God's will, destiny and religious divisions, with no easy answers served up.

"Fire and Thorns" is filled with rich fantasy cultures and sensual writing, but the real draw here is Elisa herself. And it leaves you wishing to know what happens to her next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stefanie
This review is going to be so hard to not give any spoilers! When a book is this beautiful, and the characters and storyline are so uniquely amazing, I just want to share it.

I've read a lot of books that have broken my heart, but The Girl of Fire and Thorns left me literally torn and brokenhearted. Rea Carson ripped my heart out of my chest, tore it to pieces, and didn't put it back together. Rea Carson is an astonishingly gifted writer, and oh, you can believe I will be waiting eagerly with hopes of her mending my heart in the next book in the Fire and Thorns series. It's just that awesome.

I loved Elisa. The way her character grows from a sixteen-year-old girl, who only cares about how much food she eats, to a beautiful, strong, leader, and independent women in mind, body, and spirit--It's definitely true that Elisa's life suffering does build character. Her father weds her to a king who doesn't love her, and what she has to endure with being king Alejandro's wife is more than I could take. I wanted to do bodying damage to this guy. And when Elisa meets Humberto (truly fell in love with him) a gorgeous guy who is courageous, protective, and loves Elisa, Humberto wants Elisa for who she is as a person, and not because she is the bearer of the Godstone. Just when Humberto figures out a way that they can end Elisa's marriage to the king and be together, the unforgivable happens. I thought I was misreading Rea Carson words. There was no way this could be happening, and I will leave you with that cliffhanger. There is another character that I loved, Lord Hector. He's the king's personal guard. Hector is one who doesn't trust easily. I got a feeling about him and Elisa, but I will have to wait and see how this comes together in the next book. I highly recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns as a must read, this book is filled with action, romance, and heartbreak, just have the Kleenex ready .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
goodnessneverfails
The Girl of Fire and Thorns completely blew me away. Strong character development, a suspenseful and thrilling plot and wonderful world-building combined to make a story I fell in love with.

At first, Elisa was not an easy character to love; she was a young and naive girl, content with being sheltered from court politics and current affairs in order to study the history of other Godstone bearers in the hopes of being better prepared for her destiny of service. Self-conscious of her bulging figure and terrified of the unknown, she was quite self-deprecating. She turned to food for comfort, especially when she realized her new husband was merely humouring her while secretly coveting another. But after being forced to move a month's journey from her homeland, after being taken into captivity by a group of people determined for her to be their saviour, and then choosing to rise above it all, Elisa became a heroine to be proud of. Her growth was staggering in measure, but gradual in nature considering it spans months of trials and tribulations, of heartache and pain. By the end of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa was eager to offer counsel, eager to jump into a leadership role, decisive in the face of her husband's indecisiveness and more terrified then ever, yet finally unafraid to act.

The secondary characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns were just that - secondary - but their importance to the plot and Elisa's maturity were irrefutable. She was able to realize her initial feelings for Alejandro were childish, after her experiences with Humberto. She learned that Hector's coldness was his attempt to mask his feelings, after her experiences with Cosme. She was only able to piece together the history of the Godstones because of the various priests who helped provide different parts of the puzzle. She was forced to grow up because those around her expected nothing less. Each character brought something to the table that Elisa needed - whether it was moral support, an encouraging smile or a kick in the ass. While none of them truly stood out in a specific or memorable fashion, I did find myself growing fond of many of them. And without each one of them, I can't imagine the plot having flowed nearly as smoothly.

And what a plot it was! Deception, betrayal, lies, secrets, action, suspense, romance - The Girl of Fire and Thorns had it all! I was completely captivated from the first page, thanks to Carson's attention to detail. I was on sensory overload with sights, sounds - even tastes! - brought to life through Elisa's experiences. The religious mythos that Carson created was layered and complex, adding a depth and richness that I found addictive. Even the pacing was phenomenal - starting off slow, and gradually building into a crescendo of twists and turns that left me breathless!

If you haven't already figured it out, I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns! My expectations of a chubby girl spouting off religious propaganda were blown out of the water as I was lucky enough to experience such a unique and intriguing religious mythos through an intelligent and confident heroine.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alisa miller
I'm definitely going to be in the minority with this one and will most likely get virtually stoned for this review. I just don't understand what happened with me and this book, it was like one of those fast moving relationships where everything happens too fast at the beginning and you're really enjoying it and having fun, but then all of a sudden everything slows down and you just know that it's just not going anywhere for you.

At first I was mesmerized by it, I loved that the main character was chunky and not some gorgeous blonde that everyone fell in love with. The world building and the detailed descriptions were wonderful and kept me really interested in this fantasy world. I couldn't wait to see what would happen with Elisa and to get the explanation for the Godstone. I was really loving it and couldn't put it down, but shortly after things begin to change for Elisa and she embarks on a new journey with new characters I started to wonder where this was all going? To me there was just way too much planning going on and not a lot of doing, there was constant traveling and I started to get a little bit bored with it. I loved the world, how detailed Rae Carson was with everything and how passionate she was about it but the pacing was really slow for me.

I started to lose interest and kept putting it down and started reading other books at the same time which I never do when I'm really into a novel. Also the romance between Elisa and her new "love interest" happened way too fast for me, it was just too sudden that I didn't even see it coming until they were already "in love". I tried really hard with this one because I really like fantasy and it had been highly recommended. I really loved about half of the novel, to me it was something fresh and different but for some reason the second half of the novel just didn't really grab my attention until closer to the end, which I was glad to see that it didn't have a horrific cliffhanger. I'm willing to try the sequel since I liked the originality of the story and the world has already been established, maybe the second one will be a bit more fast paced for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jerolyn
I put off reading this for a long, long time. But a month or so ago, I saw that it was being offered as an ebook for cheap, so I figured, "Why not?" I started it, and absolutely could not put it down. I was fascinated by the lore of the Godstone, Elisa's journey, and the world Carson created. I had a small freak out, after a big incident, when I thought I might have to stop reading, but I persisted and ended up adoring the book entirely.

I've always been a fan of high fantasy, of world's created solely from an author's imagination, where things not of this world are accepted as more commonplace. Some authors try to write high fantasy for a young adult audience, but somehow fail. This is not one of those cases. The nations, people, and locations of The Girl of Fire and Thorns are fascinating and exotic in their own way. I loved seeing them all through Elisa's eyes as they're opened to a new world and a new outlook on life.

Elisa was one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. Most heroines in young adult fiction perceive themselves as being unattractive or undesirable when they really are not in any way. Elisa is a lazy princess, one who sits about the castle eating truffles (I don't think she actually ate truffles, but you get the idea), and therefore her body reflects that. She feels useless, and kind of is, except she knows she is meant for some kind of purpose. She doesn't know how she's going to accomplish it, and she fears she won't be able to. As she explores the country of her husband, she finds herself becoming someone she feels could actually accomplish her purpose, mentally and physically. I loved watching her transformation and learning along with her.

The plot and pacing are fantastic as well. I found myself completely engrossed time and time again. Not only could I not get the characters and world out of my head, I couldn't stop wondering what was going to happen next and knew if I kept reading just a teensy bit more I'd find another scene to love. Even after I finished the book, I wanted more. I wanted more of the world. I wanted more of Elisa, her family, and friends. I wanted more of her story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jan paul
*****SPOILERS. READ AT OWN RISK.******

I bought The Girl of Fire and Thorns in hardback, which I rarely do, so I was crossing my fingers that it would be good and not a waste of 19 dollars.

Thank goodness it wasn't.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It was an intriguing high fantasy novel that left me wanting more. I will definitely buy the sequel when it comes out.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about Elisa, the younger of two princesses, who has never been anything special. She bears the Godstone, which marks someone for a grand destiny, and she can't understand why God chose her. Only after she marries the king Alejandro does she realize what destiny God has in store for her.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a refreshing protagonist. Elisa was an interesting character. She truly went through major changes through the book. She began the novel overweight, shy, and self-doubting. By the end of the novel, she had become much more confident i herself. It was nice to see some real character development, which I feel some YA books have been lacking. I also like that Elisa wasn't constantly kicking butt. It seems that in YA books, there's either a weak, helpless protagonist or there's a warrior maiden who is just so tought to the point it's annoying. Elisa was a strong character, but she wasn't constantly kicking butt or anything. She was a flawed character and occasionally annoying, but it made her all the more realisitic.

The other characters in the novel were also well-developed. I really liked Humberto, the dashing revolutionary and his sister Cosme, who was bitter and sometimes unlikable, but you came to understand why she was the way she was. I liked little Rosario and Ximena and Hector and Alejandro. Rae Carson created both an interesting protagonist and interesting secondary characters to back her up.

The worldbuilding of the novel was well-done. I loved how it was Hispanic-based. It was a unique change from all the Ye Olde Medieval Tymes settings that have been prominent in YA fantasy. The world was a nice change and I feel like we really got to understand the culture and landscape of this world.

Carson throws in a major twist at the end, which is shocking, but it worked for the book.

I also liked that Carson showed some true grit to war. Two major characters die, but it didn't feel forced or unnecessarily gratuitous. It worked for the novel. However, I was sad that one character died. That particular character was one of my favorites.

My two complains are that: 1) The beginning of the book is slow-moving. There are exciting bits, but overall, most of Part 1 of the book is slow-going. 2) I wish there had been a more defined antagonist. We know that the animagus are evil as a whole, but we never really got one main bad guy (or at least not that I remember. I haven't read the book in a while, please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Overall, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is an interesting, fresh new high fantasy novel that I enjoyed. Recommended.

More reviews at my blog: Random Musings of a Critical Critic (dot blogspot dot com)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
len edgerly
GUYS. If you love fantasy, you NEED to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I mean, it's good. Really, really good.

There's a ton of world-building in the beginning of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which for some people I guess might have been slow but...that's the beauty of fantasy, people. It's a whole new world! Rae Carson's descriptions and settings were all sorts of awesome and I could picture the desert and the forest and castle and this world she was building so clearly while reading.

Elisa. What an awesome protagonist. She's whiny and spoiled and she eats a ton and she's ignorant and then she grows and learns and kicks serious ass. And uhm, Alejandro. And Humberto! And Cosme and - seriously, there were some all around awesome characters in this book.

And it BROKE MY HEART. Rae Carson, you BROKE ME. Didn't see it coming. ANY OF IT.

There's a lot of religion and God in this book but it's (duh) not like our religion and our God because there are GODSTONES which sort of blew my mind and made me want to hold my bellybutton because it sounded super freaky and uncomfortable. Which, you won't understand until YOU READ IT. The overall storyline of The Girl of Fire and Thorns was pretty epic and well-thought out and very fantasyish and I can't wait to read book two.

Honestly, guys, I'm not sure what else to say. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a very epic start to an epic new fantasy series. If Rae Carson keeps it up, she's surely on her way to becoming one of my favourite authors ever. If you're a fan of fantasy and adventure and awesomely descriptive settings, definitely check out The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessie
I was extremely skeptical of starting this book and I put it off choosing other books to read instead. A girl with a gem in her naval... uhm... yeah. I wasn't sure were that could possibly lead.

Everyone 100 years, a child is born and given a Godstone, they become the bearer and they follow the will of God. This time it is Elisa, the princess of Oravella. She is a chubby princess who is strongly sheltered and protected from the world more than she realizes. She is married off to a king shes never met before her wedding day and is sent to live in his Kingdom away from everything and everyone she knows. That is where her journey begins.

And holy moly was it a journey! Rae Carson has a way with words that just pulls you in and doesnt let you go. It blew my mind! The way the book is detailed allows for you to see the story unfold in your minds eye without becoming to overbearing. Elisa goes from a weak, fat sixteen year old to someone she never imagined she could be. Watching her grow and see her make the decisions she has makes you like a proud mother hen.

This book had it all, you smiled, you even laughed a little. You def had your eyes race across the page to be able to take in more of the story! All the characters were very well developed. You were able to get to know the characters and they werent there just for the story background. They all had a story to tell and everyone had their chance to be heard.

My heart broke for her in this story for so many reasons and all I could wish for is a happy ending for her. I wont give anything away. Sigh.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alice andersen
Although as some reviews have mentioned, the beginning starts out a bit slowly, I actually enjoyed the pacing. One of this book's many strengths, in my opinion, is when it slows down to develop character and settings. Establishing the sister relationship early on, and carrying it throughout the book to delineate Elisa's transformation, was one of the best parts, in my opinion. In these moments, Elisa felt very real to me. I hope in future books we get to see more of her father and Alodia, because I wanted to see more of the family relationship, now that Elisa's perspective has changed.

So, again, pacing. The pacing in this book defined both its strongest and weakest parts. I found the beginning and ending captivating for different reasons. It was some of the middle I couldn't connect as well with. Specifically, the refugee/Malficio camp. The journey to there felt odd--a month passed with barely any fanfare, a paragraph at most, and Elisa arrived with almost no resistance whatsoever. I wanted to see more of the resentment we saw in Cosmé. Instead, everyone is kind of faceless, and I don't care about them as I would have liked to. Even the main band felt underdeveloped--Cosmé was fleshed out, but the rest...even Humberto left room to be desired. My main impressions of him were that he was kind and good at fishing. It's not that I didn't care about him as a character, but I wanted more from him. He was lacking the dimensionality that was given to Elisa in the beginning.

One of the most interesting of these characters was Jacían, who was in most of the scenes and yet always seemed to remain in the background. At one point Elisa even comments that she doesn't know him at all--and then, still doesn't attempt to. So...what's he doing in the story? Many of these characters feel like they're just names, filling functional roles off an outline. It's in these scenes that I felt the author's presence in the writing, and I couldn't stay in the story as I would have liked to. And I also started thinking about the ramifications of being born with a jewel for a belly button (the author always uses 'naval,' since that obviously sounds much less silly). (Oh, not to be too specific, but was the visual image of the spinning amulet in the last scene kind of hilarious to anyone else?)

As I said, though, it was only in these scenes that I was pulled away from the story. And it was due to a number of things, I think--awkward, rushed pacing, lack of characterization, and a scattered, underdeveloped setting. Elisa's sudden strength, as well, did not feel earned. Up until that point, I had been relishing the subtle hints that she was growing--she was comparing herself to her sister less, relying on herself more, and facing more of her problems rather than hiding behind food. But then, her assumption of becoming a leader of people she has spent mere days with felt abrupt, to say the least. As I mentioned earlier, I thought there should have been more resistance--godstone or not. Strangely, I didn't mind Elisa's dependence on food for dealing with her problems in the beginning, but I did mind her taking charge here so early on.

But the last third or so of the book was as on-track and well-developed as the beginning/first third of the book. It might not have been the most surprising turn of events (except for one event I definitely did not see coming)--and the last few pages wrapped everything up a bit too neatly--but it was entertaining, and reminded me of the characters I liked spending time with. Hector, for one, is really growing on me, and I look forward to learning more about Ximena.

Also, I really enjoyed Carson's writing style, which are mostly rooted in setting. Probably another reason I didn't enjoy the desert scenes as much, which I never really saw as clearly as the rest. When the pacing was right, there was a beautiful simplicity to the writing, and a freshness to the imagery that made me want to linger in this world. I lost it there for a bit, but I'm glad I found it again in the end.

I'm curious to see where the author goes with the next two books in this trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
keight
Garnering comparisons to Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce as well as rave reviews throughout the blogosphere, I was very excited to dive into this book as I hoped for a fast read in an atmospheric world with an outstanding main character.

Unfortunately the beginning was very slow with a main character who is very convinced of her unremarkable personality and who left me convinced of same. Still she is a princess with a gem in her belly button, having been chosen for a mysterious duty, as have others in previous centuries according to an ancient prophecy. The jewel marks her as the hope for many but also puts her in danger as she learns when she embarks on a new life, secretly married to a king of a neighboring country.

When Elisa arrives, she is comfortably ensconced but unfulfilled as some scheme against her, openly and secretly. After a frightening event, she is pushed far beyond her limits and begins to dig deep into her inner resources to discover great strength and to save her people.

Actually once that event occurred, the book became a lot more interesting to me because that's when Elisa finally starts doing stuff. I understand the need for setup and how those earlier scenes paid off later in the book. But Elisa was so passive and boring at the beginning. I guess it's hard for me to care when a character is so convinced of her worthlessness; I tend to start to agree. But thankfully she does start to kick butt, using her physical abilities, her brain, and her kind heart to help.

At the beginning the other characters interested me more but as Elisa, rightfully, overshadowed them, I didn't become any less interested in them. I became invested in most of them, shocked at some of their actions, and grieved by some of their goodbyes.

The other really fascinating element of this book is the focus on religion. Elisa comes from a very conservative, rigid variation while she marries a king whose country is a bit more liberal in their interpretations of texts for the same religion. Then there are their opponents who are considered barbaric but also seem to worship in a similar fashion. I loved the incorporation of religion and the importance of faith for Elisa and the other characters. I am also fascinated by interpretations and translations of the Bible so seeing some of the characters here engage in the same work with their sacred texts was delightful and really helped distinguish this book from some other fantasy.

Overall: A slow beginning that does pay off with lovely prose and exciting action. Not a cliffhanger but still leaves you eager for further adventures.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah kuiken
I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so much that I've been having a hard time coming up with the words to describe it. The story takes you on an epic journey, with high-stakes adventure, romance, suspense and magical elements. It's a strong beginning to a new high fantasy series and earns a spot with my favorite fantasy books by Maria V. Snyder and Kristin Cashore. The fearless storytelling and world building kept my interest and I felt like I was right in the center of the action with the protagonist Elisa.

Right away the story takes you on a journey, as Elisa leaves home to embark on a new life. The world building is set up skillfully well to show the sights, sounds, political landscape and culinary delights of Joya. The story has a leisurely pace at the beginning to give you the lay of the land before abruptly taking you out of your comfort zone and into a new direction. The visual descriptions of the setting are interesting and made the desert locales come alive. Also, there are religious undertones in the story that naturally work together with the Godstone and the idea of the prophecy to fulfill. I found the religious aspect to be non-intrusive and added dimension to Elisa's story.

Though the story has very successful fantasy elements, the characterization is also well done. There are several supporting characters that add interest to the story. As the book progresses, Elisa gets stronger inside and out and people begin to respond more favorably to her. However, there are a handful of characters that can see Elisa's value from the very beginning and help to build her self-esteem. It's interesting to view Elisa's interactions with those around her and to see her confidence grow.

The fantasy, adventure, and smart, strong and unconventional heroine made for an interesting and exciting read that kept my interest throughout. There are surprises and the feeling that anything can happen to these characters that kept me on my toes. I also liked the message behind the story. This is the first book of a trilogy, but the book has a satisfying conclusion on it's own while leaving Elisa's path open to new opportunities. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Crown of Embers, due out in October 2012.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eugene wainwright
On the pedestal of outstanding young adult fantasy with brave heroines, I have only ever placed two: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley and the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. That is, until now. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson has arrived to take its rightful place on that pedestal.

Every hundred years, a Bearer is born - one who is prophesied to perform an act of heroism that will affect generations to come. 16-year-old Elisa, the younger princess of Orovalle, is such a chosen one. However, despite having been reared for this great destiny, Elisa doesn't feel she has greatness in her. She feels ill-suited as a princess or a warrior, unlike her much more accomplished and beautiful older sister, Alodia. Elisa finds refuge instead in her scholarly studies and the comfort of food. Her sheltered childhood changes the day she becomes the secret wife of the ruler of a neighboring kingdom as part of a treaty. Upon leaving her father's home, Elisa suddenly finds herself in dangerous and deadly situations, forcing her to find out what it really means to be the chosen Bearer and if she will rise to her destiny or run from it.

Much of what pleases me about The Girl of Fire and Thorns has to do with Elisa. Her character grows from an insecure young woman who's had others dictate her fate her whole life to a leader who blazes through danger and betrayal with decisive, heroic action. The seeds of the self she will grow into are faint at the beginning but Elisa establishes herself as smart, astute, and a quick learner. Though she has divined all she can through study and spiritual practice, she still doesn't know how she will live up to being the Chosen one or what exactly is expected of her.

Elisa is a very relatable teen heroine. She has been painfully self-conscious about her weight and looks all her life, constantly comparing herself to her slim and perfect older sister. Her self-confidence plummets when she is humiliated in court for being fat. She tries to earn her handsome husband's love yet he neglects her. Rather than wallowing in self-pity however, Elisa puts her game face on and tries to make the best of her situation (with secret trips to the castle kitchen).

"I see my life in sudden clarity. The hush whenever I walked into a room. Glances exchanged between my tutor and my sister. Hand-guarded whispers. Reassuring platitudes delivered from behind worried countenances. I thought it was because the world holds me in contempt, because I am so unlike my sister. Because I am fat.

"This creepy, wormy feeling is humiliation. I've excelled as a student; noticing details, solving logic puzzles, memorizing information. It's the one thing I've taken pride in.

"But how easily I was fooled. A stupid, stupid child...

"'Why,' I whisper. 'Why keep this from me?'"

Just when I thought the story was going to be about day-to-day court intrigues and secret heartache, the plot took an unexpected and thrilling turn as Elisa is tested to her limits by being thrown in one terrible predicament after another - which she overcomes with cunning and courage. Suddenly, her weight and how her husband feels about her become unimportant in the face of an impending war with a seemingly indestructible enemy. How she discovers what she's capable of and what hidden powers she possesses, magical and otherwise, is a riveting yet bittersweet journey. She earns and pays the terrible price for fulfilling her destiny.

There is a romantic storyline but it doesn't overwhelm the story or Elisa. It grows slowly, out of friendship. I applaud the fact that the love interest accepts and loves her just the way she is; he is perceptive enough to see the steel and fire of Elisa's personality beneath the fat.

Almost every character is fully developed and had surprising depth and facets to them; like Elisa, not everyone is who he or she seems in the beginning.

The fantasy world created by Carson is curious and unlike what I've read in other fantasy novels; however, the place and character names, even the language(s) have a very Spanish flavor to them. There is a strong religious component central to the plot, as Elisa is a Bearer through God's will. Since one of the rituals involves a "Sacrament," Elisa spends a lot of time praying, and there are priests and nuns, I sensed a generic Catholic bent. Devoutness and faith are portrayed as Elisa's strengths and help her combat her enemies, although she does have some realistic moments of crisis in which she question's God's will and plan for her.

As for the writing, Carson gets it right on all counts, lacking mistakes such as tedious info-dumping and predictability that have ruined many a novel for me. It's so polished that I'd love to know who her editor is and hand out that person's name to every novelist with great potential but out-of-control execution. Or perhaps it's all Carson. Either way, the finished product should be a case study for young adult writers.

The magic burns and the unforgettable story pierces - I highly recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
colleen olechowski
This one was a bit slow to get started, but once it got going, I literally could NOT put it down. I think it's really interesting how the author used Spanish culture and language within this world of hers, which makes me wonder whether or not these countries were based on actual places within our own world, magical reality or not. Regardless, "The Girl of Fire & Thorns" is a wonderful new YA debut if you love fantasy, and it definitely has the potential to jump into the high fantasy subgenre.

I guess my one large problem with the book is that the first third is slow to get started, even with the first eventful scenes after Elisa's marriage. There was a bit more telling than showing up until that point (and I won't tell you which eventful scene I'm referring to, because it'd really spoil the first third of the book), but once it got started, it really took off. Once Elisa got to her new husband's home, she started to change for the better. In Act II, that's when things really kicked into high gear and I started looking at her as a real heroine for the book, connecting to her emotionally instead of not at all.

As for the magical reality part, the magic only really comes into play within the last...third, I guess you could say, of the book. The Godstone is only really talked about and explored in terms of lore (and in terms of what was kept from Elisa from birth) and history, and I did kind of have a problem with that. I wanted to know more sooner rather than having it play out as slowly as it did, but once things really got started, the pacing was so fast that I can see why Carson paced things with the magic/Godstone parts the way she did.

Regardless, this is a great new voice in YA fantasy, and as I said before, has the definite potential to climb into the high fantasy sub-genre. At the end of the book, all I wanted to do was to climb back into Elisa's world and go on adventures with her. Carson really used the multiple sub-arcs in her book to make Elisa grow as a character, which should be the main target for any author. You want your character to grow and change by the end of the book, whether it be for better or worse, and Carson really did a great job with this (slow start not withstanding). I would love to learn more about this world, however, and I hope that Carson delves more into that instead of just going into Elisa's journey of being queen in the next book.

So if you love fantasy, I think you guys will really love "The Girl of Fire and Thorns". I know I did. I can't wait for the next book, which is scheduled to be out sometime in 2012, and a third book in 2013. If you want something new and interesting, give "Girl of Fire and Thorns" a try. You definitely won't be disappointed.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
oh you
I often read books designated as Young Adult and think how they compare so well with general adult fiction. This novel struck me as being exactly right for the age group it is aimed toward: ages 12 and up, grades 7 and up. The level of writing is positioned just right so that it will be understood and enjoyed by young people in those categories. This world is unusual enough to entertain, the heroine is real enough to offer many tweens and teens a recognizable example, and the adventures experienced by Elisa seem believable.

The story centers around 16 year old Elisa who has very realistic issues of self love because she is overweight, but also because in her culture she is set apart as someone who will do a great thing. Her major issue is that she does not understand what this great thing will be. And nobody seems to be interested in enlightening her. Being married on her 16th birthday to a man she has never even seen before in order to cement a strategic alliance with a neighboring country doesn't exactly add to her feelings of self worth. Having a beautiful, slim, dynamic sister also heaps feelings of worthlessness on her. Ultimately Elisa has to use all she has learned in her years of study and her devotion to her God to enable her to learn from harsh experiences she sustains. People are not always what they seem to be. Situations are not always as they appear on the surface. All of these things and many more lead Elisa to become a much more mature woman by the end of this novel. Realistic types of events happen to characters in this book and they all come together to change Elisa from the young, immature girl we first meet.

I have to say here that I did not personally like this novel much at all. The story being told in first person is probably my least favorite style of novel to read. I found much of the novel to be uninteresting and especially the first of the three parts were so slow moving for me that the pacing fairly crawled. I had to strongly encourage myself to continue reading. After having said that, I do honestly believe that the target audience for this novel will approach it from an entirely different perspective and they will be much more likely to become emotionally invested in Elisa and her search to find what the Godstone in her navel means for her life. This is not truly a romance novel even though Elisa and King Alejandro de Vega marry early on. The novel is also not about God as he is known in our modern culture since this God is firmly placed in a fantasy world. There is no preaching, but religious fervor on the part of the heroine is a decided factor in her life. In summary I think the age range this book is aimed at will enjoy it enormously. This specific story is finalized in this first book, but it seems likely that further adventures await Elisa and the friends and enemies left surrounding her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul park
"The Girl of Fire and Thorns" was one of the absolute best books I have read in years. I really didn't know what this book was about and the decision to read this one was a pretty hasty one. I am so grateful that I read it almost as soon as it arrived. I was concerned at first because the language structure was a little different and there was references to places I didn't know (made up places) and words that seemed like they were maybe Spanish in origin (and I don't know Spanish). But I pressed onward and before too long I was hooked on the story and everything about the writing seemed perfect.

The book opens as Elisa turns sixteen and is being married to King Alejandra of Joy D'Arena, the country that neighbors her own father's realm. The two Kings arrange this marriage to unite the two countries. Alejandra especially needs Elisa's father's support for his forthcoming war against the Inviernos. Elisa is surprised to find her new husband quite handsome and charming and begins to be hopeful about their marriage. Until they arrive at her new home and she learns the King plans to keep their marriage a secret `for now'.

Elisa considers herself to be a lumpy thing and not very attractive. Although she loves to read and knows much about war, she doesn't give herself enough credit as a person. She compares herself to her older sister and believes she fails miserably. But Elisa is very special and if certain people knew her secret she would be in a lot of danger. For Elisa has a godstone in her navel. The godstone appeared as a gift from God on her naming day and only one person every century is gifted with it. It tells that God has a plan for Elisa. But Elisa knows not what God wants with heavy girl like her. She often questions whether God has made a mistake.

(Now I want to stop here and say that this isn't a preachy book. Its not a Christian book although certain themes come up in the novel. Basically whether you are Christian or not, this book should be enjoyable.)

When Elisa's secret gets out, she is kidnapped and thus begins the non-stop action in this book. I personally was invested after the first chapter or so, but if you can make it to her kidnapping, there is no way you will be able to tear yourself from the book. I don't want to give anything away about what happens from this point out because anything would be too much!

Just know that the characters are all delightful. The evil ones are really worth hating and the good ones you will root for. However people aren't always good or bad here and a lot of times you (along with Elisa) will not know who to trust. Elisa's character development from the start to finish of the book is phenomenal. She grows stronger in body, mind and spirit. The author makes some daring decisions and I know more than a few people were disappointed by a shocking event that happens later in the book. I wasn't happy about it happening at all but I can commend an author who is strong enough to tell the story the way it should be told even if it makes some readers unhappy. I laughed and cried with this book. I hurt for Elisa.

The story ends in a solid place. You could read this book and feel completely fulfilled by the story. But there are hints at more to come and if you are like me, you won't hardly be able to wait to see where Elisa's life takes her next.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shai
After reading the fantastic Seven Realms series of Cinda Chima, I was in the urge of reading more magical fantasy. I got this book from 2014 RT Convention in NOLA as a giveaway. It had been on my book shelf for quite some time. I finally got to reading it. Unfortunately, this book did not give the same experience I had with Seven Realms. The story evolved on divinity. I felt like the author was preaching. If I knew, I would have just read the Bible. Despite of my irritation, I was able to finish it. I hope the next remaining installments of this series is less evangelical, because I still want to find out the ending for I have become fond of some of the characters, such as Hector, Cosme’, and the young prince.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jonel
First 50 Pages: Initially, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was boring. I found the book interesting. The plot line grabbed me. The characters were well described and very relatable. But it was boring. I couldn't place my finger on why. I heard everyone loved this book so I decided stick with it.

Characters: Elisa is the main character. Through this story you watch this little girl grow into something amazing. The plot line extends through months. In the beginning of the story, Elisa starts as this chubby little teenage girl content with being sheltered and knowing nothing outside of her little bubble. She has a hard time socializing. She's daddy's girl in a very sheltered way. And everything terrifies her.

By the end of the book she grows to become a powerful and respectful queen. She is decisive, still afraid, but not afraid to act. She is understanding of her peoples' needs. The reader can sense how much she has grown.

There are a slew of other supporting characters along the way such as Cosme', Lord Hector, and Ximena. Despite their roll and constant attention, everyone else in the book does play more of a supportive roll. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a very first person focused book focusing on Elisa and her journeys and transformations.

My Review: I stated before that this book was initially boring. I couldn't place my finger on it though. The more I kept reading the more I wanted to see what happened next. I have that kind of curious personality. Once I become invested in something I have to finish it out. A movie or book has to be dreadful for me to not finish it. But this was different somehow. I was hooked but still found the book boring and it was a very odd feeling.

As Elisa's journey progressed and the plotline moved on I grew even more addicted, but I still found the book boring. I still couldn't place my finger on it. I began to realize how detailed everything was. Maybe it was the descriptions? But I decided I liked how visual everything was.

Elisa's journey took a twist with her second trip into the desert (don't want to give away too much). She began to mature. Her demeanor became stronger. The story grew more interesting and fuller. But there was still this certain something I didn't like.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns started to wrap up. The climax was almost at its peak. This book grew on me. I couldn't put it down. I usually read in the parking lot while my wife attends her classes. That is really the only time I get to read. I got down to the last chapter in this book and was tempted to make my wife wait a few more minutes until I finished the book. She won out of course. It is amazing how the wife always manages to do that. But I couldn't wait to read those last few pages.

And then I realized what was bugging me through the entire story. The writing style is very dry. Every description, although very descript, was bland. The writing was blunt. The entire story is I this and We that. The language just isn't very colorful. Usually I pinpoint this right away. This writing style turns me off quickly. But something about The Girl of Fire and Thorns just mesmerized me. I knew there was something off right from the start but I couldn't stop reading it. The story sucked me in like a bad habit.

I have to give kudos to the author though. The entire plot line is very full. I've read a lot of books lately where the story was good but thin. Characters are always introduced well and the protagonist and antagonist go at it a bit with some supporting characters pinched in for good taste. The story was always entertaining, but felt thin. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a single book. It managed to fit a story that spanned months feel very full. It was like a good Thanksgiving dinner; it wasn't overwhelming and very easy to digest but I came away stuffed. No loose ends were left dangling for the reader.

Final Thoughts: Yeah... Why not? I'll give this book my recommendation. I kid, I kid... (If you imagine that in a Russian accent it becomes more fun.)

In a more serious form of expression, I do recommend this book. I felt the writing style was bland and dry. To play devil's advocate against myself, that does make the book much easier for all age groups to read and not limit it to adults. Despite the bland writing style, the imagery used is well done and the book is engaging and entertaining.

I always ask myself, "Would this make a cool movie?" Imagine my reaction when I found out that The Hunger Games and Mortal Instruments were being made into movies. I will be the first one on Fandango for my tickets. Should The Girl of Fire and Thorns become a movie, I again shall be the first person reserving my tickets. I believe the full story, descriptive imagery, addicting story line, and character growth would make one heck of a movie that ranks up there with that of Lord of the Rings.

So yeah... Buy the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer scobee
After a rocky start, Rae Carson's debut novel, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, quickly grew into a YA fantasy tour de force, with an admirable complexity and characterization that makes it worthy of consideration from every high fantasy fan.

With the mysterious but mystical Godstone in her belly, Princess Lucero-Elisa has grown up knowing she has a special role to play, but she feels as far from a proper Godstone bearer as possible. Elisa is not beautiful or politically apt like her sister, and when she enters a political marriage with Alejandro, ruler of the neighboring kingdom, she's immediately in over her head at the political games and shocking revelations surrounding her heritage and destiny. And yet, as Elisa learns more about her new people, she begins to invest in their--and her own--well-being with a strength that she never knew she had in her.

Admittedly, approximately the first third of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was difficult for me to get into. I found it hard to connect with Elisa and her predicament of being the plain and passive princess who is supposed to have a big role.

The more I read, however, the more I respected--and then eventually loved--Elisa, her world, and the story. Elisa turned out to be a supremely capable protagonist of the highest caliber, who seemed to blossom with every page I eagerly absorbed. Her lifetime of dullness and dissatisfaction is what gives her clarity in her new role as a princess and Godstone-bearer that everyone looks to for inspiration and guidance. This is one heroine whose future, beyond the confines of this particular story, is quite clear: she will make a remarkable queen, mother, and wife, even if, happily, the first book in this trilogy leaves her future appealingly wide open.

At first I wasn't quite convinced that Carson's fantastical world was on par with those of fantasy masters such as Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley, but as THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS unfolded, I was happily proven wrong. Elisa's world is every bit as complex, logical, and entwined in tradition and lore as a fantasy world should be. As Elisa extends her horizons and understandings, so does the scope of the story and the fictional world.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is one of those rare few YA speculative fiction books published nowadays that proves that writing and world-building can still be complex and intriguing without being completely "overwhelmed" by an underwhelming romantic plotline. I wasn't sure at the beginning, but Rae Carson fully won me over, and I now eagerly await the next installment in Elisa's adventures!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lindsay timms
Very few are chosen to serve, to be the bearers of the Godstone. Even fewer know their purpose. But among those that do, many die while trying to fulfill their destiny.

Elisa wasn't sure why she was chosen. She wasn't the first-born, she wasn't beautiful or graceful, she knew little of the world outside her home and she had doubts.

With the enemy closing in, destroying everything that lies in their wake, and drawing on a magic hidden within the earth that makes them nearly unstoppable, as the bearer, Elisa is the only hope.

But at just sixteen and the secret bride of King Alejandro, Elisa doesn't know how to discover her purpose, defeat the enemy or become the leader her people so desperately need her to be.

Time is running out. And if she doesn't find answers soon, not only will she be likely to meet the same fate as many of the chosen before her, but the lives of her people and those she loves will be lost.

***

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is an epic adventure that takes readers along on a journey with Elisa as she transforms from the timid and pampered princess she had been all her life to the courageous leader she was destined to become.

This incredibly imaginative tale is action-packed, danger-filled and edge-of-your-seat exciting. Author Rae Carson has created a story that is set in an exotic land with sweeping deserts and faraway kingdoms, where sorcery and magic exist and where once every century someone is chosen to fulfill their destiny.

And Elisa is the chosen one. But before she can discover her true purpose, before she even really knows herself, she is married off to a King as part of an exchange that will benefit both their kingdoms.

While she may not be ready to be a Queen at just sixteen, the choice is not hers to make. And as she sets out on the first of many journeys ahead of her, she quickly learns that life outside the palace walls is fraught with danger and that the decisions she will be forced to make are far more significant than any she's had to make before. Decisions that will put her in harm's way, decisions that may cost many their lives, but decisions that will ultimately help her discover her purpose.

Elisa is a surprising but immensely likable heroine. At first she is sweet and smart and sympathetic, but as she gets thrust into her new and dangerous life and tries to uncover the reason she was chosen as a bearer, she becomes a strong, passionate and courageous leader who brings hope and a fighting spirit to her people.

She is also very real and relatable and is filled with doubts about her faith and insecurities about herself. She is not arrogant because she is the chosen one, a princess or the wife of a King. And she does not immediately transform into a heroine and a leader, but slowly grows into one.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a little bit of everything to captivate readers - the thrill of danger with a new enemy at every turn, a looming battle, several perilous journeys through deadly territories, dark magic, a band of rebels, an unlikely heroine, a handsome king and a love story. All leading up to a final confrontation which will determine whether Elisa is truly ready to accept her destiny and in which not everyone will survive.

This first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy is a must read for anyone who loves stories filled with adventure, stories of Kings and Queens, desert nomads, sorcery and magic, betrayal and hidden destiny.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kentoya garcia
If you're looking for a novel which completely changes your opinion of the main character as the story progresses, this is the one for you. Overweight, lazy and ugly, Elisa finds herself wedded to King Alejandro, a handsome man who surprisingly does not look at her in disgust. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about Elisa's journey to become a fierce, strong, fit and brave leader. The character development is executed wonderfully and the exaggerated negative characterisation of Elisa in the beginning only furthers the extreme transformation. On her dedication day as a baby, God's light washed over her and blessed her with a Godstone, a sign that she has been chosen by God to fulfil an important purpose. She must complete her service whether or not she realises she is doing it, even if she disagrees with the path laid out before her and even if she might not survive. Most die before accomplishing anything. It's all she can do to hope for a happy ending.

While the beginning was unique and interesting, it was a little hard to understand, with all of the strange names, locations and history. But soon enough, after the first few chapters, things just began to make sense and here's where the journey starts! Initially, it was very difficult for me to read about such a pathetic protagonist, and Elisa's transformation by the end of the book is absolutely amazing. When she gets kidnapped in the night, she loses weight and learns how to survive on her own. She also manages to lead a group of otherwise hopeless people to safety, with vicious enemies planning to destroy their villages. At times the novel was serious and sad, and at others it was lighthearted, fun and exciting. Elisa's adventures are fascinating and oh so interesting to read about! She's a genius!

One of the people who kidnapped Elisa was Humberto, a boy her age with the skills of someone much older. He sees Elisa for the strong person she is from the very beginning and falls in love with her, despite her marriage to King Alejandro. Carson positions us to favour this relationship, as it is healthy and full of honesty, rather than the passionless and false relationship between the King and Queen. Alejandro has a mistress - can you believe it? He isn't keen to tell others about his secret marriage either...tut tut. I must say, though, his son Rosario is the most adorable thing! You'll definitely fall in love with him.

The conclusion of The Girl of Fire and Thorns is perfect. Everything just falls into place and feels right - peaceful. I cannot wait for the sequel to see what Queen Elisa will do next! Now that she's come into herself and her powers, I'm sure she has many great adventures ahead of her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alexander fedorov
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, but overall the storyline is great, and I definitely look forward to the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
macon
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a pretty awesome book. And I gotta say, I had read a few of the reviews before reading and I was a little worried. Because of the religious undertones. But guess what? It didn't bother me in the least! There was a lot of God talk, but absolutely no talk of Christianity. It's very hard to explain, but the book wasn't about God in the Christian sense at all. They just believed in a God, period. And to be honest, the religion in the book was pretty cool. I thought it was interesting and I totally did not picture myself going there.

I also really enjoyed the atmosphere and imagery. I can't really say that I have ever read a book set in the desert before. And I didn't think it would be something that would interest me. Again, I was wrong. I thought the world-building and the descriptions were fantastic. The setting felt very real and I love how the author used it to her advantage. It really became a part of the story. I loved the scene set in the jungle where the royal caravan was attacked by the Perditos. Awesome imagery and action. I also really enjoyed when Elisa was captured by the Inviernos. Really fantastic and it almost played out like a movie in my head.

I really wish I could give The Girl of Fire and Thorns five stars, but I can't because once again, I felt a lack of emotional connection to the story. And I wish I could figure out why, but I just can't figure out where it went wrong. There was one event that happened where I was just shocked that the author went there. And if it had been written by one of my favorite authors, I would have been devastated. And I didn't even shed a tear. This is a problem for me. I need an emotional connection to my books. It is what pushes a great book into amazing territory. Ya know? Maybe it's just me. But the fact of the matter is, that even without the emotional connection, this was still a great book and a ton of fun to read.

I loved Elisa as a character. I like adored her. She was quirky, fun, normal, and very interesting. She was flawed and felt very real. But yet, she could not have been more likeable. She was a beautiful person inside and out and she totally made me want to root for her. I think this is going to be a series that just keeps getting better as we progress into the books. I don't know how many books there will be, but I definitely will continue. I can't wait to find out what happens next. Oh yeah, and the message that came with the story was great too. I cannot recommend it enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cindy halsey
I've been having an enormous amount of luck with choosing books this summer. Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson was another amazing novel, and now that I've finished, I can't wait to get my hands on its sequel.

Elisa isn't a conventional princess. Unlike her slender and elegant sister, she is chubby and prefers spending time with her nurse and her lady in waiting to attending court functions. She also bears the Godstone, a sacred jewel bestowed upon one person by God each century that seemingly connects her to a higher power and signals that she will commit a great act of service. At sixteen, she is suddenly and secretly married off to the young, widowed king of a neighboring kingdom. Her homeland and her new country are on the brink of war with invaders from the north, and Elisa may be the only one who can bring peace and safety to the ones she loves.

I loved Elisa so much. She is such a fabulously flawed character and someone readers can see bits of themselves in. When we first meet her, she's self-conscious, easily embarrassed, and almost painfully shy at times. By the time the book ends, she has evolved entirely into one of the strongest characters I've read in recent memory.

The plot is amazing and intricate, bouncing from serious to silly in a matter of pages, but never losing its elegant tone. The Godstone was extremely interesting, and I loved reading how it interacted with Elisa and learning more about what it is and what it does as she learns. The only thing that lost me a little bit was its location (mostly because the stone is lodged in Elisa's bellybutton, a body part that is entirely comical to me).

Seriously, though, this book has everything (I'm sorry if it seems like I say that about every book I read, I've just been reading a lot of good ones lately). It's full of adventure, action, battles, bloodshed, unrequited love, requited love, sorrow, joy, magic...and the list goes on and on. There are spies and betrayal and so many elements that keep you on your toes. Several times I though I'd guessed what was coming next, but it was never what I expected.

Fans of fantasy should definitely pick this one up. Carson created an amazing world that could very much be our own in a different time. Even if you don't usually like books about war and magic and love, give this one a shot anyway. The ending alone is worth it.

For more reviews, visit my blog at http://abbiereadsbooks.blogspot.com
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
afiyah
I'm not really sure how to write this review. Because I'm not the best reviewer in the world. And I know without starting my words won't do Rae's words justice. Like, at all. But hopefully that alone gives you some idea about the amazingness of The Girl of Fire and Thorns in itself.

The book is full of beautiful language, which moves the story forward at a pace quick enough to have you flipping pages at paper cut-inducing rates, but slow enough to let you really take it all in. The action is nonstop. Character growth is evident on almost every single page, and it's all interspersed with conflict on a both fluid AND jarring levels. (Trust me, fluid and jarring do too go together here. You'll see.)

So then, we're moving along at this already fabulous pace . . . and KA-POW. The end of Part I reaches out and sucker punches you. Trust me. Like the book even needed to get more exciting. But it does. By, like, a zillion percent.

My eyes looked like this : O.O

I can't say much more about that without giving anything away, but dayum.

I think I've said before, I'm not a huge setting description kind of person. But The Girl of Fire and Thorns converted me. Elisa travels all over the place. Sometimes willingly, others not. But there's not a step she takes in which I couldn't picture her location with complete precision. And I wanted more. Rae's words weave up and around you until you feel your feet taking Elisa's steps. Your eyes taking in Elisa's sights. I'm not sure I've ever read anything that's pulled me in this way. (Oh, and while we're on the topic of Elisa--you don't need to look any further for a strong female MC. She's brave and smart and just all around spectacular.)

Every single thing in The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a specific place and purpose. Not that you'll notice while reading, because the writing's so smooth . . . And the subplots. Oh, the subplots. They're threaded together so seamlessly you almost forget they're there. Almost. But afterward? You'll realize that each and every one of those things builds and builds and builds into something much BIGGER, with way more relevance than you'd ever expect.

And to that, I say: BOO-YAH. Well played, Rae Carson.

Well played.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darin
I have yet again underestimated a YA book. I think The Girl of Fire and Thorns could easily stand side by side famous epic fantasy/adventure books outside of the teen genre. YA has been hot for a long time now, and the main character is 16, so I get the choice, but it's so much more than the love and drama of a teenaged princess (not that I don't enjoy that sometimes as well).

This is just the best kind of transformative, coming of age saga. Elisa starts out as an insecure, confused, clueless, overweight, embarrassed, fearful, ignored, inconsequential princess who marries a king from across the desert in a political agreement between the two nations. But though Elisa has no apparent usefulness, she is special. She has been chosen by God for `Service' and is marked with a Godstone in her navel when she is an infant. Though I felt sorry for her in the beginning, I didn't really like her. But things start to take shape and you begin to see her strength in small ways at first. Just know that you'll love the intelligent, powerful person she becomes and the incredible journey she undertakes. She is my hero and I loved her by the end. I won't spoil things by telling you any more than that.

And don't let the religious angle throw you. I think a person of any faith and atheists alike could enjoy the book. Though the whole premise is based upon Elisa's Service to God and she prays constantly throughout the book, there isn't any specific dogma or it is a vague fictional religion perhaps. And, in fact, there is a theme of condemnation of religious persecution and dogma throughout and a focus on finding an individualized and personal relationship with spirituality/deity. And the intrigue, relationships and adventure are more important to the story than that aspect too.

There is subtle humor that counters the weighty themes of war and violence. The characters and world are well-developed and richly described and relationships slowly and intricately build. And thank you Rae Carson for writing a book in a series that can stand alone and has a proper conclusion. As I knew in advance I was reading the first book in a trilogy, and totally invested very early on, I was freaking out the last third of the book thinking I'd not have the ending I was awaiting. Not that I can't wait to pick up the next book to see what Elisa does next. Adults and teenagers both will have no trouble loving this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
paul laden
Normally, I jump to any fantasy books I have in hand first, and then move onto what's left in my reading pile. I love the fantasy genre! Yet, for some reason I held off reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns in favor of other things. When I actually sat down and started reading, I discovered Rae Carson delivered an intense, outstanding debut that chewed up my nerves and spat them out onto the ground with its thrilling, action-packed adventure-plot and awesome characters! It gave me a few disappointments, frustrated me, had me tearing a little, and mostly pushed me to the edge of my seat.

Obviously Carson did her homework, because the backstory, the history, the surroundings, all have an intricacy that shows that Carson knows her world well. The language she made up, the traditions, wow! It all felt very real and it was easy for me to become entrenched in the story and enjoy the world-building. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is very much unlike anything else I've ever read. I liked seeing all sides of the spectrum--the good guys' land, the bad guys', and the ones in between. It was incredibly fascinating, being in each of these totally different places!

Elisa is mostly kindhearted, really down on herself, at least at first, because she's chubby, but very likable. I think what made me like her the most, though, was the character growth I got to witness throughout the book. Elisa starts out as this shy girl with low self-esteem, dreaming about love, and turns into a... warrior. One who regains confidence, stops caring so much about how people look at her, and ultimately makes choices and promises that endear her to me. Finding herself to be desirable and wanted gave her new perspective, and it was rewarding to see her change. I loved that she turns into a hero, despite how she started out. Watching her fall in love was even better.

The romance element... I really liked, up until the last section of the book. I'm really mad at Carson for the direction she took this romance, but to say too much would give it away. In everything I read, the romance is the center of my attention. I tried not to let that be the case this time around, because it has so many other excellent aspects to focus on. The brewing war and anything battle-related I reveled in.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns serves up a gut-wrenching, deep plot based in an amazing fantasy world and delivers a beautiful message. I'm not one for preaching-type messages executed in books, but when it's done well and subtly so that I can make up my own mind and open up to it, I definitely don't mind. The Girl of Fire and Thorns, kinda like The River of Time series, is full of faith, love, sacrifice, and choice. Elisa, I clearly adored, because this isn't a book about her whining about being fat. It shows her growth from an ordinary, diffident young girl into a brave person willing to take action for what is right, even in the face of dire consequences, who triumphs against all odds. And the characters who love her because they see that she's wonderful, able, and beautiful I couldn't help but be smitten with.

This book holds an epic adventure, and my only warning is to take into account that one of the focal points is the war that's raging, and we all know how unpretty war is. There's blood and death, and Carson doesn't hold back. And the best things about this book is that it supersedes trend and goes beyond, and that the world-building is so strong, so vivid but info-dumps and tedious backstory is absent. No, Carson shows rather than tells and that's what made it so easy to get engrossed in her world. With a breathtaking heroine, wonderful, vigorous characters, and the engaging, thrilling plot (the romance doesn't hurt... oh, wait it does) The Girl of Fire and Thorns blew me away and I can't wait to find out where Carson is going to take Elisa's story next!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carley
My Thoughts: When I first heard of The Girl Of Fire and Thorns, I thought it sounded interesting, but not really my type of read.

I honestly didn't know if I would enjoy it.

We are introduced to Elisa who on her 16th birthday is moved to a new kingdom, in a new city, to become the wife of a king. Her father arranged a marriage for her to the King in exchange for sending the King troops to aid in the war against rebels.

The King doesn't really want Elisa, not in the wife kind of way. He suggests that they be "friends" and she help him with his war tactics. Elisa is a hefty girl and she feels like nobody can really take her seriously because first they see her image, and not her mind. At first it was hard for me to really like Elisa, but she did grow on me and I began to relate to her and even want her to be a stronger women. Elisa thought herself fat and others thought of her as a pig and lazy. Yes, she did enjoy her food but she was so much more than that.

Elisa gets kidnapped and starts to see things from another point of view.

One thing we can't forget is Elisa holds the mark of the Godstone, which comes only once every century. This is a high honor. Some people are enticed by it, while others want to kill her for it.

Even though Elisa doesn't have feelings for her husband, she does have feelings for another guy. This relationships develops quickly but nicely. I devoured the scenes between the two.

All the side characters are also amazing. Each one had such a distinguished personality and it was easy to know who was who. From her enemies to her allies, they were all magnificent characters.

By the end of the novel, I felt Elisa was a brave and honorable person, she is fit to be Queen. She looks at the bigger picture and doesn't give up.

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns was pretty good. I enjoyed it, even though it is something I usually do not read, and it is kind of long. It is kind of a historical type book, which I tend to stay away from. It's also fantasy.

Overall: Carson's writing is beautiful. The way things are described makes you really feel like you are there. I felt like I was experiencing Elisa's feelings and even in events such as the sandstorm, I felt like I was being covered in sand.

Cover: I don't know how I really feel about the cover. I don't love, but I don't hate it. It's alright.

What I'd Give It:4/5 Cupcakes

__________
Review Based On Hardcover Edition

Taken From Princess Bookie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura smith
Imagine if you were the Chosen One... but had no idea what you were destined to do, and had no discernible skills.

Such a girl is at the heart of "The Girl of Fire and Thorns," a richly textured fantasy about a seemingly ordinary princess who is destined to be involved in much, much more. Rae Carson obviously put a lot of love into her fantasy world, as well as a heroine who defies most of the "princess" tropes.

Once every century, a child is marked with the divine Godstone, showing that they are destined to serve God somehow. Princess Elisa is its newest bearer.

And because of a treaty, she is reluctantly married to beautiful, kind King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena. But her new homeland is a strange, not-very-welcoming place, especially since the marriage is being kept secret for mysterious reasons. There are plenty of backstabbers, rivals and even a brewing war with Invierne.

And in Joya d'Arena, Elisa soon discovers religious truths about the Godstone that nobody in her country would tell her. But when a band of revolutionaries kidnaps her, she finds herself fighting Invierne's animagi -- and a terrible magic that uses Godstones and blood. Now Elisa must not only save herself, but her new country as well.

Sorcery, religion, politics, ancient texts and a legendary jewel that channels God's will -- nobody can accuse Rae Carson of writing a book without plot. In fact, "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" is dense with brewing events that eventually explode into battle, with colorful, richly descriptive prose ("robes as white as quartz").

Carson also came up with a thoroughly likeable, unstereotypical princess. Elisa is a chubby, shy, studious girl at the story's beginning, self-conscious about her weight and intimidated by her sister and Alejandro. While she grows in confidence and strength, she never stops feeling like a real person who gets embarrassed and awkward.

And the world Carson comes up with is pretty fascinating as well. It seems to be based on Spanish and Middle-Eastern cultures, complete with a sort of pseudo-Catholicism that features heavily in the plot. It's not preachy, but Carson isn't afraid to tackle the tough questions of God's will, destiny and religious divisions.

"The Girl of Fire and Thorns" is filled with rich fantasy cultures and sensual writing, but the real draw here is Elisa herself. And it leaves you wishing to know what happens to her next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gabriel garcia
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: The Spanishesque world was the perfect backdrop for this debut, which mixes politics, romance, and religion into a deadly clash of magic and cultures.

Opening Sentence: Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.

The Review:

This epic fantasy does a really great job of creating cultures that relate to ours, but are in a world reliant on magic, faith, and secrets that is so unlike our own that the comparison is only tentative.

The world Princess Lucero-Elisa hastily marries into is far more complicated than her life in Orovalle, where she studies war and scripture while eating her favorite pastries. But she wasn't safe in Orovalle and Alejandro needed the troops her father can provide, so they get married. It isn't long before Elisa realizes there's another reason she's been whisked away so abruptly. This reason has something to do with the Godstone embedded in her naval.

It quickly becomes clear that information that could very well be the difference between her life and her martyrdom has been held form her for sixteen years. As the world around becomes more treacherous, both politically and emotionally, she turns to God for guidance. But God's signs are always ambiguous, and though her Godstone consigns her to Service, exactly what that entails is unknown. When Elisa's taken from her new home in Alejandro's palace across a desert to help aid a rebellion, she might finally have gotten where she needs to be.

The incoming war with Irviene is closer than Alejandro and his advisors can possibly know. The hill people fight as hard as they can to defend themselves, but with thousands of troops they are running out of hope. Elisa can't be anyone's savior. She can barely bring herself to look in the mirror. She's fat with no talent besides her knowledge of tactics, but she's quick to try and change people's perception of her. When she wants someone to stop thinking poorly about her, she works twice as hard. Through a variety of circumstances, she loses weight, as she sheds the pounds she also gains a confidence in herself. The real Elisa, who had been hidden behind years worth of self-deprecation and feelings of uselessness, begins to shine through. It isn't long before Elisa is ready to step up to the challenges God has put before her.

I know this book sounds super religious-and while there are priests and monasteries, it's really not that kind of book. It's not preaching anything, but instead adds another layer of conflict to the story and mythology of the Godstone. The Godstone comes once every century, when they're still a baby. Though being destined for a great Service is clear, what that means is always unknown and perhaps more obscure than they realize. Many of them, in fact, die during their Service, even more die before it is completed. Elisa needs to protect herself, a task that's too much for her inexperienced hands. Because if enemies find her, they won't hesitate to cut the Godstone out of her.

This world clashes magic with political intrigue, a well spun romance, and a coming-of-age story that places beauty in confidence and faith rather than good looks and charm. This book blew me away with its careful world building and beautiful prose. Elisa has a clever mind and a sense of humor, which makes her narration easy to read and adds another layer to her religious persona. I am dying to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy, Crown of Embers, because I absolutely love to see the way Elisa evolved from scared and incompetent to confident and take-charge. The writing was completely engrossing and I want it to be September already so I can have the sequel!

Notable Scene:

I step forward to take the boy's place, holding the roll tight against my breast. Father Nicandro's left hand cups the back of my neck and pulls my head down until we are forehead to forehead.

"Your Highness," he whispers. "What do you seek from God today?" With his other hand, the one that holds the rose, he reaches out and grasps the parchment between his middle and index fingers. With one quick, smooth motion, my message disappears into his voluminous sleeve, as if he is well practiced at intrigue.

He waits calmly for my answer. I give him the truth. "Wisdom," I whisper back. "I need so much more than I have."

The Fire and Thorns Series:

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns

2. The Crown of Embers

3. The Bitter Kingdom

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chris noessel
Princess Lucero-Elisa bears a Godstone, marking her predestined for service--but at sixteen she has achieved nothing, has no remarkable skills, and binge-eats to quell her feelings of inadequacy. Married to a foreign king with a country on the brink of war, Elisa must take control of her life in order to discover and fulfill her destiny. The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a staccato, artless first person narrative which is common in young adult literature and often makes me avoid the genre--but it also puts character actions at the forefront of the story and keeps the pace high; a blessing in disguise, as I almost gave up on the book a third of the way through and only its mindless readability kept me going. Unempowered, obese Elisa is a brutally depressing protagonist, not because she angsts but because her self-hatred is so believable, heightened by Carson's eye for physical nuance. Her self-realization shines in comparison and often is achieved in just the right way--self-reliance balanced by meaningful relationships, believably-paced character growth, and a dogged determination not to fall into the pitfalls of tired romantic tropes or overt fat-shaming; the non-white setting also shines, and the book's magic system is intriguing and unique--but Elisa's weight loss means that it's all damned by the connection between fat and miserable, non-fat and happy. That message leaves me with lingering misgivings and only a reserved recommendation. This isn't an easy book, and in many ways it shouldn't be: Elisa's growth is hard-won and comes at a price, and I appreciate that. But it's also soul-crushing and tainted, despite the best intentions, and it's hard to see past that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
olivia audoma
I really enjoyed this novel. It was an epic with a protagonist that grows and becomes a more rounded person. Those are my kind of novels. It reminded me of many other epic fiction, from Star Wars to Avatar: The Last Airbender. When I first started reading this novel, I hated all the names. They had unusual spellings and I could not remember who was who or what was what. By the end, the uniqueness of the naming added. It gave the feel of a whole new world.

Going into this novel, I was doubty on how the religious aspect would play out. I enjoyed where it went. The biggest thing that was weird to get to was the use of God and His, Him, etc. Although it is named the same as the Christian God, it is a completely fiction world with completely fiction religions. After finishing this novel, I want to know more about the religion.

I loved the way image and body was done. I really enjoy noncaucasian fantasy worlds. I am not certain, but I think all the characters from Elisa's kingdom/nation were dark skinned. They definitely all had black or dark hair. I did not realize dark hair redded in the sun. The Invierne were described as colorful because they had all shades of hair. The animagus were also portrayed well, with their catlike blue eyes and light skin and hair.

The relationships were dealt with perfectly.All the characters had enough depth for what they were needed for. I want to know more about the past bearers. I really liked the way their destinies may still be fulfilled long after their deaths. The past bearers reminded me of the past avatars in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I want MORE! There have been many books recently that once I have finished I discover a sequel is in the works and I deem it unnecessary. In this case, I want a sequel now!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carrie basas
At first it took me a little to get into the book. It was mostly for the names of characters and places. As I got into the book I immediately connected to the heroine. Throughout this trilogy she just kept getting better. I applaud the author for not letting the main heroine slip in character or seem inadequate in her role. At times I forgot she was even a teenager. There is no "woe is me" feeling, teen angst, or whining about does he love me or not and most importantly no stupidity in the main character. It is a different storyline to which I am thankful for. In its own way it is smartly written and a good book for young girls to see how young girls can be strong, smart and capable without being overly emotional.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andy smith
The main character Elisa is wonderfully created, the author made her real and powerful in terms of all she felt. There is a beauty about her belief, and there a sort of wonder- because in those moments of the book you see something amazing. They say no artist(author) can paint a picture of what exactly they are imagining, they can only guide the viewer(reader) to to the reader's own version powered by the reader's own imagination and depth of the scene. Some parts were theatrical but it does not really take away much of the book's goodness.

The plot line is not predictable, every action is in-character and there isnt any unbelievable (lack-of-logic) romantic decisions/scenes; do not mistake it for lack of love. The Inviernos(the antagonists) are painted well, and the differences well highlighted. Love, Loyalty and Belief this series has in spades.

Do read the Crown of embers and Bitter Kingdom
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
david abrams
Elisa is sixteen. On her sixteenth birthday she is given in marriage to the king of the neighboring kingdom. Elisa is the second born daughter of a king, as such she is used to make alliances.

Elisa's situation is unique. She is overshadowed by her older sister and lacks any self confidence what-so-ever. Elisa is a chubby girl and takes solace in food. (Unfortunately I can relate!) This is her form of self-medication when she is in a stressful situation

Her marriage is left unconsummated and the King doesn't recognize their marriage to his people. She is left floundering as to her place and the expectations of her station.

One thing she has that is very rare. On her naming day during the ceremony a blue stone was placed in her belly when there was a flash of light. It is called the Godstone, and only one bearer is chosen every 100 years. She has a destiny to fulfill but is left in the dark as to what God expects of her.

Once her secret is accidentally discovered, she is kidnapped and forced to march across the desert. This march is harsh and the food and water situation sparse. She is forced to overcome her sugar addiction.(Maybe I should spend a month walking in the dessert. ; Her body is transformed and she put in situations to give her confidence. She is able to rise to the occasions that present themselves. She experiences love and loss. She finds out who she can trust, and what a true friend is.

I liked the transformation that she undergoes. She is a young woman who craves affection and love from those around her to a compassionate woman who gives the love and affection and understands to receive you must first give. She finds her potential and rises to the trials placed before her.

I enjoyed this book, there is not content that I feel uncomfortable in recommending. I received a copy to review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elena minkina
***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***

Once every four generations, God chooses a bearer, a champion to stand for him in the world, that champion is marked by a living stone in their naval that appears on their naming day. The current bearer of the God Stone is Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza, the younger princess of Orovalle, an overweight sixteen year old who has no desire to be a leader. On her sixteenth birthday, she is married to Alejandro de Vega, the King of Joya d'Arena, a larger neighboring kingdom. Her first sight of him is as she walks down the aisle to his side, he's a stranger, and their marriage a part of a treaty concerning an upcoming war. Though on her arrival at Joya d'Arena she should become Queen she is instead announced as a special guest and asked to keep secret the fact that she is both the King's wife and the bearer of the God Stone. Instead of living as a queen she lives as an outsider, forced to watch as her distracted king parades his mistress around his court. She wonders if she'll always be on the outside the subject of court scorn because of her weight and disregarded by the all people from whom she craves love. All that changes when she is abducted by her new maid and a band of commoner rebels from the other side of the country. Though she's forced to earn their respect, to them she is a leader, not because she's a princess or a queen, but because she is the bearer of the God stone and they believe it is her destiny to save them from the enemy armies destroying their towns and their people. But can the fat girl on the sidelines be a leader? And if she tries will it really be God's will or will she be responsible for all of their deaths?

The first thing I'm going to say is this book belongs in a classroom and on a lesson plan, it is both a fantasy novel and an allegory to the world we live in and have lived in for centuries. For me to say that about a novel with so many religious references is a high compliment considering I define myself as agnostic, meaning I don't know what I believe when it comes to religion. The book both embraces religion and defines one the biggest, most terrifying problems with zealous belief. If you're a person who's bothered by talk of God, this isn't the book for you, but at the same time as I've just mentioned I'm not religious so I don't truly feel you have to be in order to thoroughly enjoy and receive the message behind the novel. Though I doubt it ever will be because of its religious connections and often violent scenes, it's a book that I think would benefit our educational system and the teens within it.

The book has many action packed scenes filled with edge of your seat excitement, however it's not written with a fast paced. The first person narrative was for me at first hard to get into, and in the first few chapters it was only a scene here and there and memories of all the great things I'd heard about the book that kept me reading. You've probably figured out by now that I'm a fan of a fast hook and a rollercoaster pace in a novel, mostly because if I read a book in more than one sitting then I really didn't care for it. I don't take a break in the middle of a real vacation, why would I take one in the middle of an imaginary one? With my style of reading, that style of writing appeals to me most. That's not to say that a slower paced novel will never appeal to me because some have, though the writer has to work harder to get that appeal from me than someone who's got me tearing through pages in a sentence or two. The slower pace of this novel is accentuated with vivid descriptions, decent world building and a deep understanding of the main character, her flaws, her insecurities and her strengths. Like I've mentioned before it's doused in religious references and you won't turn a page without seeing some sort of mention of those, however you can't get the message behind the story or truly understand a character who's chosen by God without those references. What I found to be truly intriguing one of the biggest draws of this story is that almost every cruelty and every action was explained away by the individual characters as their cruelty being God's will. The only character really taking action that seems so uncertain about God's will is the one who's supposed to know with certainty what God's will actually is. The fantasy society Carson creates in that way greatly mirrors our own with characters explaining away horrors by claiming God wanted them to do it. If there really is a God, who created every living being, I highly doubt he'd be encouraging war, genocide, terrorism or the millions of other horrors that have been done or attempted supposedly in his name. But then again considering I'm not religious I'm probably not the best source for an opinion there. But the last I heard, the great religious icon hadn't enchanted a billboard to tell us what he's thinking so I don't think anyone truly knows his will or has any right to blame their personal atrocities on their chosen religion. The religious scriptures in Carson's world though different from our own also bear similarities in that everyone interprets them differently, in a way that best suits their needs. The only character willing to stand up and say I don't know or I'm not sure is the one who is supposed to represent him in their world, the girl who holds the living God Stone. It's for this reason I think the somewhat religious novel will appeal to nonreligious readers as well, because while it encourages Christian beliefs it also points out the issues with organized religion and religious zealots. It shows that even religion is not flawless because it is not the divine who interpret it. Obviously since I've gone on about that a lot here, that aspect of the novel really appealed to me.

The biggest weakness of this novel was many, though not all, underdeveloped secondary characters and the pacing, especially in the beginning which drags at points. It's not until Eliza begins her journey to growth that this novel really settles in to a constantly interesting text with a little quicker pacing. However in my opinion its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Unlike other young adult novels with female leads, thus targeting more a female teen audience, it's not a romance novel. Eliza has interaction with two different men, but she doesn't get that soaring kiss and a happily romantic ever after that most young adult novels end with. Her life is hard and her experiences with love aren't that fulfilling, however they are realistic to the setting and plot Carson has created for her. The novel isn't about love, and despite the religious allegories and undertones, it's not about religion either, this a tale of a girl growing up and finding the strength to go from a wall flower to a leader. This is a story where the girl finds that woman inside her who is strong enough to meet her destiny head on. And even if it didn't have all of the other bonuses I've mentioned that alone would make this story one worth reading, one that I can guarantee you my daughter will read, probably very soon.

The book includes a full story arc, though does hint at the end that future adventures for Eliza might occur it doesn't need a sequel. One thing I will say is that it wraps up rather quickly once the climax and culminating moment for the character is completed and I would have liked a little bit more of what happens now, though I'm sure we'll see more of that in the coming sequel.

The main character of this novel is in my opinion truly unique. She's not the most sought after girl in school or incredibly thin when this novel opens. She's from all accounts extremely overweight and has the type of personality who seeks food to soothe life's pains. She knows she's fat and doesn't really see any attractive features about her. She's more average than most of your young adult leading characters in this manner. At first I thought maybe this was the character's own perception of herself, at least as far as weight was concerned because most sixteen year old girls think they're fat, I know I did and boy I wish I was the same size now that I was at sixteen. But as the story progresses there's evidence that her self perception is actually quite accurate in the beginning. First it's shown when the young prince tells her she's fat since he's too young to understand censorship. Then later when she's gone through so many physical hardships that the weight starts to come off, there's mention of the loose skin around her legs which you don't really see without some seriously dramatic weight loss. It's evidenced again when she returns to her proper place only to have her own husband not recognize her because of the difference weight makes in a person's appearance. This isn't a 125lb girl who thinks she's the good year blimp, this is a teenager with a serious weight problem because instead of having a person or healthy activity she can turn to in her difficult life, she has food and she admittedly eats until she's made herself sick at many points within the novel. She eats until she can't eat anymore because in her mind it's the only thing that will help with the pain. This is both heart rendering and realistic in that there are tons of people who do this. Almost everyone does it occasionally; I mean who hasn't mourned a break up with Ben & Jerry's? And like many teens because she has this really obvious physical flaw, she can't see past it to all of her better physical qualities or even her mental and emotional ones. Heck it's more than just like teens, it's like women and probably men too, though I wouldn't know that for sure. Because of her own self doubt she feels completely alone, and part of the reason she is alone is that she isolates herself by the way she interprets things people say to her. She doesn't suffer criticism well and any harsh words are enough for her to believe the person speaking hates her. The realism of this character, the way she thinks, acts and just is in general is something I'd honestly say is unparalleled. I mean how often do you find an overweight, overly sensitive and depressed hero? I know I've never read one before and I've read A LOT of books. Eliza is blind to her own worth and as she grows it's not because she wants to be a leader, or she's not afraid, it's because she's scared out of her wits and doing it anyway because she's smart enough to see that's what needs to be done. She's smart enough to doubt and think things through as well. And you and feel the very real fear, horror and doubt she experiences as she does those things. The remorse she feels about many things she's done is palpable. In the beginning of the book she might be a little hard to relate to not because she's not realistic, but because it's hard to feel anything for her other than pity, but the more this character grows the more you are drawn in, the more you feel like you've grown with her and are proud to know her, even if she is fictional. For a character to be that complete and to have that massive of an arc all her own I think is a tremendous accomplishment especially in a debut novel.

Overall I highly recommend this novel. Even if you're not one for religion, read it anyway. If you're like me and can't stand a story that doesn't hook you instantly, hang in there, it's worth it. This is one of those books people should take time to read and experience for themselves. The only thing negative I can say is I don't have a clue how Carson is possibly going to top her debut novel, but I'm anxious to find out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
abdullah
I had been really anticipating reading this book, not only because of all the rave reviews it has been receiving, but because I kept hearing comparisons to Kristin Cashore and Robin McKinley, who I LOVE. And I am happy to report that the rumors are true, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a great piece of epic fantasy complete with brave protagonist, amazing world building and an intricate plot.

First off, a rocking heroine. I adore the contradiction in the character of Elisa. On the one hand she is very insecure and unbelieving in herself, yet she also recognizes that she is chosen and destined for greatness. She is a devout believer in the power of the Godstone, yet she often questions God, and whether she will ever recognize her divine purpose let alone be able to achieve it. She is the perfect mixture of vulnerability and strength and I loved witnessing her growth into a courageous woman. She is brave, strong, loyal, intelligent, fierce, and driven.

In addition to Elisa, Rae Carson assembles an endearing cast of supporting characters. Alejandro, Elisa's handsome yet failingly indecisive husband; nursemaid Ximena, both loyal and loving, yet scarily fierce to her charge; Lord Hector who is courageous, faithful and trusting of both his king and queen; Cosmé, who is strong, brave, cynical and unyielding; and the sweet, caring and tragic Humberto. I was as fully invested in each of these characters as I was Elisa, and for me, that is something rare.

Now this book has garnered a lot of attention, much of it negative, in regards to it's strong religious tones as well as the subject of Elisa's weight and negative body image. I don't really have issue with this. Yes, Elisa is a very religious girl. The book centers around the fact that she has been chosen, by God, to achieve great things for her people during her lifetime. It seems that author Carson did her homework studying up on many of the worlds monotheistic religions, specifically Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Elisa, and the people of her world, are strong believers in fate and destiny as well as a belief in higher power and faith. I thought all of these ideas were vital to the story and written without being "preachy" at all.

As for Elisa's weight and the subsequent loss of it, I thought it seemed pretty realistic. She was overweight as she had always turned to food as a source of comfort and solace. Elisa was purposefully left in the dark by her family and caretakers regarding her role and duties as a "chosen one." She was always left out of court politics, knowing she would never be Queen of her own country; that would be her thin, cunning sister's office. I can imagine that being raised that way, choosing what and how much she ate was one of the few things she did have control over. And it's clearly painful for her. At the book's opening Elisa is not only mortified at the prospect of being married off to a man she doesn't know, but of what he will think of her when he sees her at their wedding as well as the wedding night. After she loses the weight, I thought the reactions of the people around her to this dramatic change in appearance to be pretty realistic. And can I just say that the scene in which she is reunited with Alejandro, where she discovers that her new appearance wields new control over him, I found to be a pretty significant moment for Elisa. She no longer feels inferior, she is empowered. It was a very "I am woman, hear me roar!" moment and I dug that!

A side note, I must gush about the beautiful names of places and people for a second. In many high fantasy books I've read I tend to get bogged down by the fictional names, especially when I can't even pronounce them. But that was so not the case with The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It was a total Latin love fest on my part! Alejandro, Lucero-Elisa, Rosario, de Vega, de Riqueza. Love, love, love it! (I recently started reading the Perfect Chemistry Series by Simone Elkeles, I blame her for this...)

The ending of the book leaves everything wide open for Elisa, and it's anyone's guess where Carson will take us in book two, but I for one, am ready for the ride!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars'
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ana trofin
I must say, I don't really read YA novels but if they're anything like this, I think I'm going to start reading them more. This one really took you on a journey to so many different lands. Not to mention, I've never seen a character grow as much as Elisa.

The story did move along rather quickly, however, it seemed dragged out in a few places. I know that seems odd and it doesn't sound right but for me that's what it felt like. I love the description of the areas that Elisa traveled to and from.

One thing that is the central theme to this story is God. I am the complete opposite of a religious person and usually reading about religion and God is not my thing but this book made it work. I suppose I should have realized that since the theme of the book is that Elisa is the chosen one to be the bearer of the Godstone.

This was different and exciting and sad and happy all at the same time. Elisa was shy and timid and fat. She's content to just let things go and to not make a fuss. After being kidnapped she comes into her own and really blossoms. She turns into an assertive, strong Queen. Deserving of her title.

What I loved most was that I couldn't even begin to predict what was going to happen to Elisa next. I was shocked and saddened by some of the events that happened and a little disappointed. It seems like we lost a lot of good characters that I would have loved to explore more.

What can I say though? I really enjoyed this novel. I want to know what Elisa is in for next. What's going to happen to her. There was a conclusion to this novel. So we were not left with a cliffhanger, luckily, but you know there's more in store for her and you just want to know what's next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
monisha leah
I have been on a real kick for Epic Fantasy lately. It seems more and more are coming out in young adult. I have seen this one around and picked it to read and couldn't put it down. Amazing book with Romance, treachery, kingdom saving, bravery, and finding oneself. All parts of a great epic fantasy.

Elisa is 16, never had much a life outside her palace, carries a Godstone, and finds herself being married off and hunted for her Godstone. In the course of being married off and getting to know her husband she is kidnapped and thrown into a world she never knew existed along with a prophecy that she is expected to fulfill. Elisa will need to find the courage and her true self to save her kingdoms and her family.

This book was very exciting for me. I love epic fantasies because of the journey the main character needs to go through and the discoveries made along the way. Elisa is a wonderful character, from the beginning I fell in love but I did notice among her qualities she had a great heart and was very loyal but she had not self worth. She believed herself to be nothing special, in fact she believed the Godstone she carried was a mistake and she would never be worth of it. Along the way of her journey she finds herself and she discovers she is much more than she ever thought, she is brave and she is smart. Her love for her people and her family take her to new boundaries.

The story was not all happy and fun. There were some very sad parts and I cried. There were parts I wish never had to happen and was angry for Elisa and saddened for her too. Elisa goes through many trials and endures much loss but she still pushes onward and after almost losing her faith, she finds that the faith is what keeps her going, Faith in her God, faith in her people, and faith in herself. Wonderful story and can't wait for the next installment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
skout
I was so excited about this book! Elisa sounded different than the usual protagonist and I'm glad it didn't disappointed me.

Elisa is sixteen years old and the chosen one. One day, when she was just newly born, a light surrounded her and now she has a jewel in her body, marking her as the chosen one. The chosen one is destined to fulfill a prophecy, but no one can see Elisa as the chosen one. She's just a young, fat and dumb princess.

I really liked Elisa. She starts as this shy and sometimes dumb girl but transforms into a strong and intelligent woman. It wasn't easy, and her journey is long and difficult, starting with her "secret" marriage and then being kidnapped.

Sometimes I thought the other characters asked too much from her. From the beginning it is kind of obvious nobody thinks she can fulfill the prophecy, but at the same time nobody helped her. They kept secrets from her, like what exactly does the prophecy says, or what are the dangers she has to face when the time comes.

But it works out because Elisa finally realizes she has to be strong and do things for herself to survive. Her journey is full of adventures and a sweet and very innocent romance, which left me surprised and kind of sad at the end.

They only thing that kept me from loving this book 100% was that I thought it was kind of ridiculous (and not at all realistic) the fact that she had a jewel in her belly, or that the jewel seemed to had a life of it own.

Overall, I really liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns and I can't wait for the sequel, The Crown of Embers. I enjoyed Elisa's adventures and I think she's a great example for young girls.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
moira
First Impression:
I have had this book on my shelf for a few months. Like most books, I have really been meaning to get around to it, but it just never felt like the right time. Then, almost if by fate, I came across a review talking about the main character and her weight issues. Honestly, I had no idea the MC was suppose to have weight issues, so my interest was piqued.

While Reading:
There has always been something about books like those of Tamora Pierce and Maria Synder that just click with me. The characters. The epicness of the tale. The richness and engrossing plot. And while I hoped to enjoy The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I never expected to find these qualities here.

Elisa has grown up knowing that she was special. As a baby, she was marked for greatness by the gemstone in her navel. This gemstone signifies that she is favored by God and will accomplish something spectacular. But having grown up in her older sisters shadow, Elisa isn't sure how she will ever live up to the expectations. When she is promised in marriage to a neighboring King, Elisa's life is about to change forever.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is essentially divided into two parts, with Elisa undergoing a massive transformation during the process. While I loved both versions of Elisa. (Minus all the weight mentions. It was EVERYWHERE! After a few pages of this, I really wanted to yell at the book that I got the point.) The "after" version was just made of so much more awesomeness. Elisa, the timid girl of the first half of the novel complete disappears. Transforming her into a heroine that I will always remember fondly. A strong, confident, take charge kind of heroine that I adore.

Final Verdict:
To say I adored this book is putting it mildly. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a completely surprising book from beginning to end. I loved Elisa and all her supporting characters. And the romance... wow. That went in a completely different direction than what I expected. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the exciting start to what I hope will be an amazing series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ronald toles
I'm really not sure what stopped me from reading this sooner. Which is sad, because hidden within the cover is a truly good book. It combined the elements of fantasy, magic, and even had a fairy tale feel too. Some of my favorite elements of a story as of late.

I actually loved the way Elisa is presented to us. She's the complete opposite of any princess heroine I've ever seen. I wondered how much of it was her own insecurities about herself, but I learned that she basically was a fat and unattractive princess (hey, it happens). I wondered how her life might have been different if she wasn't a chosen one. I liked how being seen this way has put a different sort of expectation on her. She doesn't behave the way you would think a princess should. But, she also can command a room when she wants to.

I thought the story of the chosen ones was really interesting. I would love to learn more about past chosen ones. I feel like we've barely touched the surface of this phenomenon. I was also really intrigued by the jewel that was placed in her navel when she was chosen (although, I do admit I thought what happens with it in the end was a little cheesy.) It seems to have a life of it's own and I liked how Elisa could detect moods, etc but what the jewel was doing at that moment.

The actions in this book is great. I really enjoyed the landscape we get to witness in the story. For as many location changes as we go through, it never feels like too much. And I felt I got an adequate understanding of the makeup of this make believe world. The characters cover a wide range of social hierarchy, which I think lends an interesting scope to the story. We learn so much for the king who can't defend his country to the poor who are struggling to keep their lands and lively hood safe. It's an impressive feet.

I probably would have given a 5 if the ending hadn't felt like a little bit of a letdown. I was expecting Elisa to have this awesome magical power within her to conquer the evil that was hunting her. And in away this did happen, just not in the way I had hoped. I'll live though, and will definitely continue on with the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
travis werklund
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a religious, young adult fantasy.

I found the writing style more "adult" in nature than most young adult books that I read. The action was slower; the themes were deeper and more thoughtful. I am not a fan of books written in first person, but it was well written.

One thing I really appreciated about the book was that love was shown as so much more than physical attraction. Love was portrayed as acceptance of a person (without needing them to change) and about putting their good above your own. The book was clean and fully appropriate for young adult readers and adult readers like myself who prefer a good, clean story.

I also appreciated the rich variety of characters; weak and strong, selfish and giving, protective and betraying.

NOTICE: The following contains spoilers about the direction of the themes, but not about the plot itself.

Religious Aspects:

Someone asked me if this book was Christian fantasy. It is not, though the author does occasionally draw from Biblical imagery.

The religious aspect of the book was the one area that I found disappointing. The main character is chosen by God as one in a long line of prophesied "bearers" whose life is destined for service to God on behalf of mankind. This God is clearly portrayed as having a plan that weaves throughout history on behalf of the people and yet, small nuances throughout the story seem to put Elisa in charge (in place of God) until near the end of the book she realizes that she "didn't need faith in God" as much as she needed faith in herself. Then just a paragraph later she goes on to say that God is not done with her yet.

Perhaps the author was trying to communicate that Elisa needed faith in herself as God's chosen; faith that she could be the woman that God intended her to be, but the fact that Elisa boldly and with pride lists all that she herself had accomplished indicates a dependence on self that is contradictory with true faith. So to me personally, the ending of the book was disappointing in Elisa's last minute turning from faith and trust in the God that she had been searching to understand and follow throughout the whole story toward a faith and trust in her own strength and accomplishment.

Body Issues:

One of the unique things about this book is that the main character is significantly overweight. I really appreciated how the author showed the value and worth of Elisa, despite the judgment she felt from others over her weight. I also appreciated how as Elisa's circumstances change, she changes, not to bend to what other people value (outward appearance), but because she discovered that food was a crutch that she didn't really need.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tina shull
In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, the starkly different realms come to life through Rae Carson's vivid descriptions. Both the language and the landscape are influenced by Spanish culture, with the sandstone walls of Brisadulce seeming to grow organically from the vast desert of Joya d'Arena. The Spanish phrases enrich the text without confusing readers, and the lilt and rhythm of the prose is mesmerizing. This world features a rich history, mythology and religion, with only the barest echoes of our own. The mythology of the Godstones is fascinating, a history reaching back for generations and usually boding ill for the bearer. Elisa has been kept in the dark for much of her life, and readers will delight in discovering the enigmatic powers of the Godstone, and the ominous fate of God's chosen, alongside the young heroine.

Though God and the Godstone are at the heart of this story, it is not a sermon. Carson takes a thoughtful and honest look at the religion of her world, drawing insightful parallels to our own. Every faction of the war believes they are doing "God's will," and what that means depends entirely on which side of the line they stand on. Elisa is honest about her own doubts and utter lack of understanding of this inscrutable God, despite being the bearer, which prevents her from seeming self-righteous and makes it easy to cheer for her success. Though she's a princess and a chosen one, she's utterly relatable -- just the sweet and sensitive girl-next-door.

This is truly Elisa's story, and her growth is the highlight of this epic tale. The secondary cast is large, and the characters are vibrant and unique, not mere plot devices but a network of confidantes and enemies, friends and family for Elisa to depend on, who carry her to the brink of destiny. It's clear from the start that Elisa has the potential for greatness, saving the life of a king even before her journey of self-discovery -- she need only recognize it. When the novel opens, she is very young, both in age (16) and in experience. She is timid and self-conscious, always treated like a child by her father and sister, afraid to make her own choices or face her fate.

As she is drawn into the thick of high-flying schemes and dangerous war games, readers see Elisa grow into a strong leader, a just ruler, and an insightful counselor. Though she has love interests, they are by no means vital to Elisa's growth-- a refreshing change of pace from heroines whose development depends solely on her relationship with a male lead. She still has her doubts from time to time, and certainly isn't trained as a warrior (how many princesses are?), but she uses her sharp wits and careful study to take charge in times of crisis. By the end of the novel, Elisa has accrued quite a few awe-inspiring adventures, and earned the respect of both herself and the people around her. She is resourceful and self-reliant, comfortable in her own skin and prepared to confront her destiny.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns contains more than a few surprising twists -- not all of them pleasant. Carson is not afraid to hit readers where it hurts, and that directness is admirable in a market replete with happily-ever-afters. This is not a fairy tale, though it is fantasy. This is a tale of war and magic, love and loss, struggles for power and -- most of all -- the joys and heartaches of growing up.

~Review from [...]
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jiten thakkar
I had heard of The Girl of Fire and Thorns before I ordered it, and I knew it was YA, but I didn't realize it was a fantasy book. In general, I'm not a big fantasy reader and I also don't read that much YA, so this book was a bit out of my comfort zone. Elisa is the second daughter of a king. She is overweight and lacks self-confidence, even though she was selected at a very young age to bear the godstone - a stone that is embedded in her belly button and indicates that she is destined to perform a great service to her world, assuming that she isn't killed before she is able to complete her service. Bearers are chosen once every hundred years and many are lost to history. They don't complete their service, die young, and no one knows what their service was supposed to be. Elisa has no idea of what hers will be either. She feels unworthy, but still wants to be ready, and is dedicated to the ideal of completing her service. She is intelligent and devout, she just lacks any faith in herself.

Over time, Elisa is tested in many ways, and is forced to grow up and use her strengths and skills to overcome adversity and perform her act of service. I enjoyed the descriptions of this world. The various physical landscapes - the desert, the hills, the jungle, the city - were all well-described and I was able to form a good impression of them. There is some magic in this world, but the book is a fantasy, not a paranormal. The magic elements are muted and are wrapped up in the religious beliefs of the people. The book was an interesting and an engaging read and I liked the author's writing style.

One thing I wasn't wild about was the POV which was 1st person present tense. It was well done, but it's not my favorite. My other problem with the book was that I found it pretty unrealistic that this young 16 YO girl who has no self-confidence and has never challenged herself to do much of anything, could suddenly be transformed into a strong, confident heroine who ends up saving her world. It could happen, but the time period in which her transformation takes place was too short for me and I didn't feel that she started off strong enough to make this believable. I find this is common in YA books, and it is one reason I don't usually read them. So, while I did enjoy the writing and the story, I probably won't continue on with this series. It had an open ending, but it was satisfying enough that it could be read as a stand-alone. I'm very happy that it did not end on a cliff-hanger as I hate those.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary claire hoffman
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a beautiful coming of age story with a main character that goes from self-pitying to being determined and resilient, trying to find her place in this captivating world.

I read the Girl of Fire and Thorns because it came highly recommended. However, after reading just a bit, I almost didn't finish it because I wasn't sure I was going to like it. You see, Elisa is the self-pitying, no confidence type of girl. Constantly bashing her body (she's overweight) yet doing nothing about it. Actually what really bothered me was the fact that she was fat because that was how she dealt with her problems. Something I can't relate too. For me, instead of complaining about it, do something about it. Don't get me wrong, I've had those days where I starts bashing on myself, but I'm a naturally happy person and I'm alright with how I look. Instead of complaining about it, I'll work hard to change it and make myself feel better. Now, that's just me. However, I can see how many girls would relate to Elisa, but for me, it was a bit hard at first.

She also didn't see how important she was. You see, she is the carrier of the Godstone, a stone that is in her naval (creepy, I know) placed there by God which is pretty important by most other people's standards. However, she herself thinks it is pointless and that she is not the right person to carry it. Start the constant complaints. Again, not my cup of tea, but I wanted to see where it went.

However, don't let what I said earlier stop you, because I came to love her! Although she may think she isn't important as the carrier of the Godstone, there are many that realize her importance. Heck, one man even kidnaps her because he thinks she'll be his people's saviour. And on this journey (that she eventually willingly goes on) she learns about herself and how important she is.

After this point, I grew to love Elisa. On her journey she became a strong woman that learned that if something bugged her, she had to change it instead of complaining about it. However, what made her relatable and understandable was the fact that this change wasn't instantaneous. Many things over the course of her journey started to slowly change her and give her confidence. She will never be as skinny as some of the other women, but she can get to a weight that she'll be happy with. She is also incredibly intelligent and strategic, something that was ignored in her home because she was the second daughter. However, she comes to learn to use her intelligence which helps her a great deal throughout the story (You go girl!!).

Each person in the story changed Elisa in some way. There were many good people in this story that loved Elisa even when she didn't love herself. Her first love interest helped her so much. Although I wasn't in love with him, I grew to care for him. He was amazingly sweet and loved Elisa for who she was which in turn helped her realize just how important she was.

However, I want Hector. He may not be in the book that much, but there's just something about him. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for him ;)

Plot and Pacing and Worldbuilding:

Although this book starts out slow, it comes to a steady pace after a while. Not to fast, not to slow. Just perfect so that I felt like I was on this journey with her. The plot, while not constantly exciting with a ton of battles and fighting (which is normally how I like my books), it was still engaging. So if I like battles and action, why did I still give it 4 stars? Because all of the stuff that did happen, all those little battles helped Elisa come to love herself which is something I'll always be happy about. Go self-confidence!!

The world building was excellent! I felt like I was there with the characters. She didn't go into too much detail, but just enough so that you could feel like you were actually going on the journey with Elisa.

Now, there is one thing that really creeped me out throughout the story. The Godstone...what?! In her naval?! I don't think that's exactly....normal. Lets just say this creeped me out quite a bit, specially at the end! It just sounded painful! And is this a religious book? Yes and no. While it make many references to God (Godstone), its not a specific religion. Connections can be made, but its not necessary. This religion is the religion of this fictitious world.

Don't expect a happy ending. And for me, I loved it. Nobody's life is perfect and I don't like when author's make it that way. In order for it to be realistic, there's gotta be death and sadness. Now, the story isn't over, and its not like it's a depressing ending or anything. Its just not a perfect one either. Elisa goes through hard times, but she pulls through anyway. I can't wait to join Elisa again on her continuing journey of self-discovery.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hadil
In the wake of literary phenomenons Harry Potter and Twilight, there's been an explosion of SciFi/Fantasy fiction targeted at YA audiences. The kid in me, who grew up in a time when the Narnia books, "The Giver" and "The Hobbit" were about the extent of the readily available options, would have been thrilled with the feast of options available today. But my more discerning adult eyes see the onslaught of new titles as more of a glut in the market. There's so much exploitative, market-tested-to-death formulaic schlock that it's hard for the truly worthy titles to rise to the top of the pack.

The reward for wading through is that you occasionally find a book like "The Girl of Fire and Thorns." It's a remarkable debut novel, one that pulled the rug out from under me a number of times. A lot of the elements will be familiar, but they're not the usual building blocks for YA fantasy. The world is not your typical Ye Olde English medieval realm; instead it's a desert world with a very strong Mediterranean flavor in the culture portrayed. The religion, essential to the story, is not Catholicism (or even Christianity) but it has a strong Catholic character. Influences as disparate as "Dune", "The Moon Is Down" and "Lawrence of Arabia" as well as the usual fantasy cues. It's all woven together seamlessly into a world that operates with internal logic. Nothing felt tacked on or arbitrary.

But more importantly, it's story about the development of and individual, not the chronicle of a relationship. Elisa, the protagonist and narrator, ends the book very different from the person she was at the start. The handsome men she encounters help shape the person she becomes, but they never dictate who she becomes. Elisa makes up her own mind, always operates of her own agency -- even when all the decisions seem to have been made for her. She undergoes a dramatic transformation over the course of the story, but Carson is careful to weave in aspects of her from the beginning that make us believe she would be a leader you'd want to follow. She has a keen strategic mind, she's empathetic but firm, and she doesn't shy away from violence when necessary. And the violence, when it comes, is far less romanticized than the tales of chivalry and gallantry we've used to from fantasy. There's an unyielding pragmatic streak to the storytelling from beginning to end; by puncturing the fantasy with a sliver of realism, my suspension of disbelief was reinforced even more.

And unlike so many first books of a preordained trilogy, this one has a satisfying beginning, middle and end. The transition from Part I to Part II and the transition from Part II to Part III both shift the story into a different gear entirely. Carson's prose style is clean and transparent. I read the book from beginning to end today and was never once distracted by gnarly grammar or awkward phrasing. The secondary characters were all well-defined. None of them seem to exist simply to fufill a plot function.

Yes, this is definitely one of the good ones.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennie bologna
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a truly fabulous coming-of-age story. Elisa is married off to a foreigner on her sixteenth birthday, whisked off to a new land, and then hidden away as a secret. She can't reveal her Godstone and she can't reveal her marriage. Not the best start to a whole new life! She feels even more alone and worthless than she did in her home. What she doesn't realize is why it is so important to hide...and what could happen when her secrets are uncovered.

Elisa was such a dynamic character and I absolutely fell in love with her. At the beginning of the novel, we area introduced to a fifteen-almost-sixteen year old girl who is preparing for her out-of-the-blue wedding. She is clearly uncomfortable in her own skin. She's been chosen for some great act of Service, but she feels like it must have been a mistake. How can she ever be as successful as her beautiful older sister? How could anyone ever fall in love with an overweight, less-than-perfect naive Princess? Her lack of confidence is fed by the secretive nature of her marriage and the multitude of secrets that she is forced to keep when she arrives in her new husband's country. Elisa was such a fabulous character because you literally watch her grown up and come into her own. She is forced to embark on this harrowing journey and along the way she transforms into a strong young woman. She experiences the joy of first love and the pain of death that war brings.

The world and cast of characters that Rae Carson has presented in this book left me longing for more. The world is phenomenally and intelligently crafted. Carson's descriptions of the landscape gave me a real sense of the world without becoming cumbersome. In addition, her characters were understated but well-developed. We learn about them through Elisa's eyes and for me, that worked here. When characters were successful, I cheered, and when bad things happened to good people, I got upset (VERY upset in some cases).

The religious overtones of this novel took me by surprise. Not in a bad way--I just didn't expect it. I am sure that some people will find this to be a negative for the book, but I thought that it helped develop Elisa's character. It becomes the one trait that she holds on to throughout her transformation. It also never specifies that the god she is praying to is the Christian God. Since this is a fantasy novel, I think that point is definitely open to interpretation and best left to personal imaginations/beliefs.

My overall sense about this book is that it is the start to a fabulous trilogy that I cannot wait to devour. I must also applaud Carson for wrapping up this book without any major cliffhangers! The world and characters have a lot of room to grow and develop in future books, but I wasn't left beginning for a conclusion to a completely undeveloped (or suddenly new) plot line.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lauren mcqueeney
Ever since I first heard about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I've been dying to read it. Not only because the premise sounded fascinating but also because it seemed like it would be something similar to Graceling and Fire, two of my favorite books. Luckily, it was pretty good overall, but in some ways I was a bit underwhelmed...

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the characters. Elisa was flawed yet it made her even more real in my eyes. It was interesting to see her overcome her self-esteem issues as the novel progressed, especially when it ended up landing her in an even better place mentally because of it. What I also enjoyed was seeing how Elisa went from being a timid, diffident girl to one who is not afraid to call the shots and say what's on her mind. It was a long process but an important one to the story as well as the reader nonetheless. I also enjoyed the addition of the revolutionaries such as Cosme and Humerbto. All of them truly brought a great spark to the novel.

The plot of this was also decent. I enjoyed seeing how Rae Carson shaped the world Elisa and her friends and foes in as well as the different aspects of it such as religion and politics. Every aspect (little to large) was fully developed as well making it even better. Another portion of this novel I enjoyed was finding out more about Elisa's powers, because not only did they bring many twists and turns as well as secrets out of the woodwork but also it was an interesting sub plot overall. The hint of romance in this was fabulous as well, and even though I would have loved some more development to it, I still found it to be satisfactory overall.

However, there were some parts of The Girl of Fire and Thorns that lacked. One was pacing. Sometimes this novel moved at rocket speed and had me fully captivated while at others it moved at snail pace and barely had me following along. Second, it just didn't have that flare I was looking for. Don't get me wrong, it was good but it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. I don't know if this was because my expectations were so high or if because I wanted something more similar to a Kristin Cashore book, but either way it was just missing something in my eyes.... Hopefully, it will be cleared up in the sequels.

Last but not least, Rae Carson's writing was great. I loved the way in which she developed the characters and plot lines as well as the way she was never afraid to do something extreme to the plot lines and characters...though I will say the ending was a little bit too morbid for my liking. In addition, I enjoyed the focus on religion. It was never pushy. Instead, it was woven into the story in a way the book wouldn't be the same without.

In all, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is certainly a good debut, and while it wasn't always what I expected and hoped for I did end up enjoying it quite a bit, and I'm now eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Grade: B
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rachel joles
This was awesome! I loved the super-uber girl power!

Starting off, it was slow, but nonetheless intriguing. Princess Elisa was so helpless and self-loathing and I found her hard to connect with, but boy did that change quick. Elisa went from lonely, fat, and no self-confidence to strong, fit, independent and a highly intelligent leader with an endless supply of people who loved her. How's that for a 180?

Elisa wasn't the only character to love in this story. I enjoyed the many-layered characters throughout the story. I was constantly surprised by all who surrounded Elisa. No one was what they appeared at first, or even second glance.

The relationships grew gradually and realistically, and I felt equally as hurt and/or betrayed as Elisa when something went wrong. And so, so many things went wrong for poor Elisa.

The romance in Girl of Fire and Thorns was secondary, really thirdary. Is that even a word? Well, it is now. Sometimes I wanted more, but it worked well because this was more a story of Elisa's self discovery than falling for a guy. That said, I'm all about Humberto, he has my heart!

There is a religious aspect to the story, the Godstone in Elisa is supposed to give her a direct connection to God. I was surprised that it was never an issue for me. It wasn't preachy in the slightest and actually added depth to the story and Elisa's character.

This worthy adventure delivers great twists and turns, lots of intrigue, exciting action and excellent character development.

Straight up fantasy is usually hard for me to get into, but I had no problems. I would label this baby as a must read. And I cannot, I repeat, cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel! Argh - the waiting!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maureen
****CONTAINS SPOILERS****

Elisa has known her entire life that she was chosen for greatness. On the day of her naming ceremony, God's light shined on her and she was blessed with the Godstone in her navel. She thinks Mr Almighty has made a grave error because she doesn't see any qualities in herself that would help fulfill such an important destiny. Then she is married off to a Prince of a country far away in secret and from there, her journey just gets more complicated and we'll see if she can rise to the challenge of fulfilling her destiny.

I have so many issues with this, I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start with Elisa herself. I went back and forth on whether not I despised her. First she was fat, lazy, and annoying. The fat bit I kind of liked. It was great to finally have a heroine who wasn't a freaking stick figure despite eating her body weight in junk food, but she spends so much time complaining about it and never trying to do anything about it, always drowning her sorrows in yet another pastry. Which is, once again, understandable. Who hasn't had a really bad day and went home to use food to make it better? But it is different when it happens on every single freaking page. What makes it worse is that instead of using this chubby heroine to send out the message to teens that everyone's body type is different and you should learn to love yourself just as you are instead of conforming to the media's BS image of what a woman should look like, it's just another whiny YA heroine who loses the weight in order to feel better about herself. And I don't mean she starts a regiment to get healthy, I mean she is kidnapped and made to walk across a desert so naturally a good bit of the weight falls off and only then does she start to feel better about herself. It was more than a little infuriating. None of the other characters angered me nearly as much. I actually really liked Cosme and Humberto and most of the rebels. And Rosario. I loved him! So petulant and whiny and absolutely adorable in the end.

Another big issue was the healthy dose of religion you get in this. At no point in any of the descriptions or summeries is religion mentioned, but the whole reason Elisa is special is because God chose her and she bears the Godstone. For the first 100 or so pages, you don't get through a single page without that word being mentioned. After that it slows down a bit, but it is still there. Leaving my views on religion completely out of the picture, it still would have been nice to get a bit of a warning on that. Plus, I don't like my religion and literature to mix. Call me crazy, but religion is a touchy subject for most people and I prefer my reading material to be as far from that controversy as possible.

Then there is the main big issue, the one that even if I could overlook the previous problems would make it impossible for me to love this novel. ALL THE MOTHERFREAKING DEATH! Now, before I get yelled at, I realize that this is high fantasy and they are in the middle of a war and a certain amount of doom needs to be portrayed. I can deal with that. But what I can't deal with is the main love interests throat being slashed. Poor Humberto dies right in front of Elisa and I almost stopped reading right on the spot. That made me so freaking mad. There are some other deaths that upset me minimally, but that one had me seeing red. I like happily ever afters darn it and now, unless they pull some kind of necromancy, that crap isn't going to happen.

It does get two stars because after you get about midway through, it is impossible to put down. The writing and storyline draws you in until you are desperate to finish it. I do plan on reading the sequel, but I'm more than a little wary of it. Let's hope it improves some, shall we?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ryan crowther
This is not a book to judge by its cover. I own a ARC so once I started reading I kept glimpsing back to the cover and wondering what the girl on the cover had to do with the story. Then I looked at the final cover and its much better to grasp with the story, still not a favorite. So believe when I say when choosing this book to read, pick it because of all the greatness it contains inside.

It's getting harder and harder for me to write reviews for great books. All my words gets twisted in my head. The Girl of Fire and Thorns would be a book I would love to see on the big screen. There is a world here that Rae Carson created that just amazing. The details are so strikingly vivid. The characters are believable in so many ways. She didn't do them over the top. She test her characters and either they fall or make it through what Rae gives them to face. I will say Rae won me over with how her main character Elisa grew with the story. I was Elisa personal cheerleader on the sidelines routing for her the whole time.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a story following Elisa. She has just turned sixteen and has been set to marry King Alejandro of Orovalle. This a a fixed marriage between her father and King Alejandro. After Elisa has been wed, she sets off to her new home with her new husband. Its not a easy trek. Then on top of that she arrives at her new kingdom and must hide the fact that she is the new queen. Then add to that mix of issues, the fact that Elisa gets kidnapped right out of her own bed. Now Elisa will truly encounter hew journey in her new life. Elisa learns and begins to mature and understand her surround sing and her captors. You might ask why everyone want Elisa, well she is the bearer of the Godstone. She is the chosen in her time. There are those who want to help and protect the bear and then their are those who want to harm or kill the bearer. So be prepared to be thrown in Elisa journey as she must defend herself and either learn her purpose or fail.

This is the beginning of a trilogy and I'm very much excited to read the next installment in the series. The ending will be a shocker but will leave you satisfied until the next. Go out and grab your copy today, I'm sure you will enjoyed it as much as I did. I practically read it almost in one sitting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tate
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started the Girl of Fire and Thorns. Just from the title, I was kind of thinking the main character would be this warrior-queen type heroine, wielding knives and a bow and arrow, you know, kinda like Katniss Everdeen. And can I just say, Elisa was definitely different than what I'd thought she would be. But different in a very good way, because she's easy to relate to and changes throughout the story.

She starts out as a girl who is insecure and uncertain of the role she must play. She has flaws. She knows she's not perfect. But she knows she must save her country, and her determination never falters. I loved this about her. And, as the book progresses, there is some major character growth, which I really enjoyed. I hate characters who whine throughout the whole book, but Elisa stands apart from the other "heroines" in YA literature who are dependent on a man to complete their life. Elisa is nothing like that! She becomes braver and more sure of herself as she discovers the role she must play to save her kingdom.

Romance isn't the main theme of this book. I liked that. There was no love at first sight or incidents of the heroine throwing herself at the love interest and swooning over him. Elisa is strong and is able to make the right choices on her own. That, combined with the rich world this story was set in, the political intrigue, and the beautiful themes of self-discovery, faith, duty to country, and family completed this book for me. Elisa transforms into a powerful character that I know I won't forget. Fantasy readers of all ages will fall in love with this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tara bush
So many young adult books don't feature strong characters, or flawed characters ... they feature fairy tale characters. Now, fairy tales are fun and wonderful (and I love them!), but I love to sit down and read a book where the characters aren't perfect, where people make mistakes, where everything is beautiful in the end, but they stayed strong and overcame. This is why I LOVE The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Elisa is amazing - she isn't beautiful or perfect looking, but she is smart and people are drawn to her because of it. She doesn't do what she does for love or because she is trying to impress/win/keep a boy. No, she does it to save a kingdom and because it is the right thing to do. That doesn't mean there isn't love, that doesn't mean that people don't see Elisa as beautiful. As a librarian, this has been my go-to book for the past few months when someone simply wants a great read (especially after that Hunger Games high - we want to keep them coming back for more books). I've just started book 2, The Crown of Embers, which is exciting from the moment you open the book. Loving it so far. Read this one and you won't be disappointed!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
matt kaye
Rae Carson's book The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a riveting fantasy read it ranks right up there with one of my all time favorite author's Maria V. Snyder's Study and Glass series for me. I know some of you who have read those books will not believe it but give a book we all on twitter have affectionately named TGoFaT a chance you will be very surprised!

The world Rae has created is full of magic and from her descriptions of the many different places you feel as you've almost been transported to this world. You feel the Godstone in Elisa's belly, you feel the thorn prick your finger during the Glorifica, you can almost sense what jerboa soup would taste like (and BTW eww), and you can feel the heat of the desert.

I really loved the characters she created Elisa is weak at first but she learns quickly and finds her inner strength. The king is likable enough and I absolutely loved his guard Hector (more of him in book 2 please Rae). The rest of the characters each have strong personalities and I can tell you some you will fall in love with and some you will detest from the moment you meet them. Some will also surprise the heck out of you when you think you've got them figured out something abruptly changes.

So if you want a great fantasy read with tons of action, intrigue, treachery, and a darned good but different love story go pick up The Girl of Fire and Thorns in September I promise you will love this book and will be yearning for more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
deana
Although she has been sheltered her whole life and has no idea why or what it's purpose is, Elisa bears the god-stone. A great destiny awaits her if she can survive long enough. To do this, Elisa must change who she is inside and out.

At first I did not like the protagonist- mainly because I could not picture her beyond the excessive descriptions of her weight being more than the other characters. It was almost ¼ of the way through the book before you even get another idea of what she looked like physically (i.e. hair color/length). While a non-descript character can draw the reader in, I find that works best if the story is set in the present and in familiar places. This is a fantasy book and in a fantasy world and to get better into the story, I need more to get an idea of the character. It took more than 1/3 of the book to feel a connection to the main character.

For the first part of the book, the reader is left wondering about what the main plot is to the story. The reader is left in the dark as the protagonist Elise is. Normally this sort of plot line is very distracting to me, but here it seems to work. As I was nearing the end of the book and noticed that I only had 20 pages to go, I began to worry that the story would not finish up the loose ends, forcing a sequel to do the work. In the end though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did not leave me hanging.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
socialsciencereader
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a fascinating read for me. I didn't really know what to expect going into the book, as the synopsis is a bit vague. The book was not what I expected, but I definitely enjoyed reading it!

I have to talk about the main character first. Elisa is such an amazing character. She's a princess, but she's definitely not your average princess. She's overweight, a bit naïve, and very insecure about herself. She's also the bearer of the Godstone, which she knows very little about. That all changes when she's married away to the handsome King Alejandro, and moves away to live with him in his palace.

Elisa is such a great character. While I had my doubts about her in the beginning of the book, she managed to completely take me by surprise. Elisa becomes a completely different person as we follow her on an unimaginable journey throughout the book. I loved watching her grow, and become more confident with herself, seeing her survive all that she has been through, and also seeing her discover why she was chosen as the bearer of the Godstone.
There were a lot of secondary characters in the book, and I felt they were extremely well written. Quite a few of them grew on me more and more throughout the book.

The plot for this story was very unique. The story literally sucked me in, and I was completely engrossed in the story. The first half of the book is a bit slow; it was mainly just building up background for the story. There was a lot more action in the second half of the book than I actually expected. There were a couple of parts toward the end of the book that I was really surprised about, the author definitely didn't hold back on this story.

Overall, this was a really great read. This is definitely going to be one of my favorite books of the year. I can't wait to add it to my collection.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
canon
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS
By Rae Carson

Elisa is the Chosen One, the one born with the Godstone. But being the Chosen One is both a blessing and a curse.
Elisa's very life is in danger though she is not aware of it. Her life has been a sheltered one and one of study. She is well versed in the tactics of war though she has never fought one. But what would give her the greatest understanding of her true self has been denied her because she is the Chosen One.

As the younger princess of Orovalle Elisa is part of an alliance treaty with Joya. She is to wed King Alejandro of Joya on her sixteenth birthday. This treaty will remove Elisa from the danger that surrounds her in Orovalle and give Joya the promise of troops if war should come.

But worse danger confronts Elisa in Joya. King Alejandro does not acknowledge her as his wife and as queen, but rather as a special envoy from Orovalle. Elisa keeps the secret of her Godstone, but when it is discovered she is kidnapped from the castle and forced across the desert in attempt to thrust her destiny upon her.

What the Kingdoms of Joya and Orovalle don't realize is that the war with Invierne never ended and the outlying territories have been under attack. Elisa's destiny finds her as she helps the rebels fight the forces that would destroy them while at the same time saving the people of both Kingdoms. The Godstone that Elisa possesses is the key to the power that will stop Invieme, but can she unlock the power in time or will all perish in the fight for survival?

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a riveting and spell binding book and I hope that there will be more books to follow!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susan wojtas
When I finished The Girl of Fire and Thorns I had to step away from it before writing the review. Not that I didn't like it, I was so engrossed in the world that Rae Carson created while reading it everything else faded away.

Now if your thinking because there is a princess and this is a fantasy that this is some mild sweet little romance then I am here to tell you you are wrong. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is action packed. I read this in one day and I was so sad when it was over. Don't get me wrong there is some romance, but there is also friendship, betrayal, and deceit.

Elisa is The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I have to say I loved her character from the beginning of the book. When Elisa is first introduced she is an overweight princess that pours over religious writings all day. But this is what she has been raised to do. Elisa does not stay this way for long. After a quick marriage to a bordering king(who I could not stand), then from the kings kingdom to being kidnaped, and then she moves on to help lead an army. All this from a girl who was a fat bookworm. Looking back Elisa's character development never felt forced, she grew as a person from one event to the next.

This Girl of Fire and Thorns is made of awesome and you need to read it! I have happily learned that this will be a series and I am so excited to read more and get lost in this amazing world.

Happy Reading,
Rebecca
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cheeriolafs
I'm not a fantasy fan normally, but this book drew me in in such a way you forget you are reading about a different world. The main character was so real and compelling she simply pulls you in and makes you believe. Elisa was flawed enough to relate to without being being pathetic. At first she struggles with being "second best" to a perfect sister, overweight and given as a pawn to a handsome king. One would think being given to a handsome man as a wife wouldn't be so bad, but with Elisa's poor self esteem, it is torture, especially when she desires the king so badly.

As the story continues, you see Elisa change. She becomes a fighter, battling for her forgotten subjects and finding love on her own terms. All the characters play their roles well, blending their individual personalities to make for such a strong plot, I hated to see it end. The book was beautifully written. You can almost feel Elisa's suffering as she slogs through the desert or hides in an crevice from her enemies. Her triumph and anguish feel so real, it's af if she is a friend. The ending was nicely done and even though it is set to be a trilogy, it doesen't leave hanging like some many books do these days. If you like historical novels, this maybe for you since it has a Spanish historical feel to it. Either way, it is not to be missed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stacy sims
Elisa is overweight, a little mousey and completely unprepared to understand her birth rite. Elisa was born with the godstone. A stone bestowed on her, after her birth, from the heavens. Only one person a century is blessed with such a gift. Because of the godstone she is married off to the king of a neighboring land and in exchange he will help protect her from the many people out there that would gladly kill Elisa for what adjourns her body.

I'll admit I picked up the book because the title The Girl of Fire and Thorns reminded me of Kantiss. The same reason I picked up The Girl in the Arena but where that gamble really did not pay off I really think this one did. Elisa is one of the best female protagonist I have ever had the privilege of reading about. She doesn't start off being confident and take charge but the situation surrounding her gives her no choice. She changes on the outside as well as the inside and you learn to respect her for being as strong as she can possibly be considering the circumstances.

There is a little romance thrown in but for the most part it takes a back seat to the all the action. Elisa finds herself thrown in the middle of a war that the government refuses to admit is even going on. Elisa is extremely relatable and even though the novel starts off slow you are soon thrown into an action packed fantasy adventure. This novel is packed with twist and turns that you weren't expecting and although Elisa is very religious it doesn't feel like it is forced on the reader. A part of the novel had me in tears and I'll admit I never saw that coming....I highly recommend to readers who love a good fantasy novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
soomin kim
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is just the sort of YA book that got me hooked on the genre. Debut author Rae Carson combines fantasy, magic and adventure with the coming of age of the second princess Eliza. Elisa, the younger princess, does not compare well against her older sister. She's fat, not interested in power or ruling her country, and she's shy. Eliza is willing to cede most things to her sister and has known that her life is dedicated to serving their God as a Bearer.

The Bearers come every hundred years and are chosen by their God on their naming day. They hold in their navel a jewel but what sets them apart is that they are chosen to change history, to serve a higher purpose or goal. The specific purpose is not known and Elisa spends much of her time praying, studying, trying to discern what she's supposed to do. She acknowledges that she does not intend to lead or rule. But when Elisa is married to the ruler of the largest and richest country in their world, she finds many of her earlier beliefs and assumptions are overturned. She learns to trust her judgment and herself. She grows into her true self, learns to lead, and changes the world around her.

Elisa is one of the most likable heroines that I've come across in a long time. I couldn't put down The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It's a fun, engrossing read. Am very much looking forward to the next book by Rae Carson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amber enneking
This book was very unique. I was prepared for this book to be mediocre. Thankfully, this book was far from mediocre! I loved Elisa. I found her to be such an amazing character. I wish that less emphasis was placed on Elisa's weight. Especially when her weight loss comes through harrowing circumstances, I can see how it might come across as harrowing circumstances = the perfect diet. I absolutely don't think that is what Carson intended, but I can see how it might come across that way to some readers.

Elisa was really strong, which I loved. She was faced with really difficult situations and a heritage that was a heavy burden to bare. Elisa could have easily buckled under the pressure of her legacy, but she handled all of the wonderful and torturous situations that come her way.

The secondary characters were just an awesome as Elisa. I enjoyed the young rebels, Elisa's husband, and particularly Elisa's step-son. Carson definitely knows how to craft a character.

The plot was spectacular. I was completely engrossed by the story and plot. The idea of the Godstone was fabulous. I was so intrigued by what it was and how it played a major role in the plot of the novel. This novel and the historic feel of the plot reminded me of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart, but appropriate for a YA audience.

I definitely recommend this novel. I am anxiously awaiting its sequel!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rowan
I enjoyed this book. It took a little while for me to get into the story - it kind of takes place in an alternate, fantasy old world Spain. The story was not at all what I was expecting, and at first it seems a little off the wall weird. She has a big jewel that links her to God sticking in her belly button?

But here is what I loved. This book is not your average princess saves the day story. Elisa is not beautiful, she's overweight, and not particularly useful. She changes over the course of the novel, but she's still flawed in the end, which I think is fantastic. So many books these days are all about the Perfect Girl meeting Perfect Guy and falling in Perfect Love. This is not.

There are some very heartbreaking deaths in this book. One in particular took me by complete surprise and almost gutted me. I couldn't believe it.

Is this one of my top ten favorite books of all time? No. Is it in the top 100? Probably. And I will absolutely read anything else Rae Carson writes. (And on a totally random note, it was awesome and a little weird to see my maiden name--Treviño--used so heavily in this book.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
darren jones
Elisa is a very real and believable heroine. Having been sheltered her entire life, Elisa is unable to live up to the people's expectations for the one blessed with the godstone, and she turns to food for comfort. The beginning drags a little, and it seems as though a dreary marriage life is all that Elisa can expect. Once the revolutionaries come in, however, Elisa must face the brutal realities of the world outside the castle walls.

Kidnapped, Elisa must learn how to survive on her own. Her transformation is miraculous, both physically and emotionally. She learns what it means to be truly loved, she learns what it means to love in return, and she realizes what it means to be a queen. Elisa is a wonderful heroine, possessing a great strength of heart. While the ending is not ideal, it is a peaceful conclusion, one that needed to happen. As The Girl of Fire and Thorns is but the first book in a trilogy, I hope for the best for Elisa.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns about a heroine growing out of her insecurities and awkwardness into becoming someone worthy of holding the title of Queen. It is about a girl who learns about the significance bearing the godstone, the fate of her people, and the immense duties that come with her position in life. I really enjoyed reading this book and will be looking forward to the next two books in the Fire and Thorns trilogy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anchal manglik
Elisa is the princess and 16 years old, and soon married to Alejandro. She is the bearer of the Godstone. She knows that she is destined to do something but clueless on it. She is overweight.

While traveling to her husbands city , the party is attacked. While she understands the loss of the men , she wonders why they were even attacked. She wants to learn more about the Godstone.

She gets kidnapped and walks through the desert, and learns more about the people. She is praying and walking more and wonders what her role is to become. While on this journey she starts fighting for the people , and learns more about herself. Elisa becomes a force to reckon with.

This book was religious but not over the top. Elisa stood firm and became curious about her service to God. I connected and understood her reasoning.It was great to see such a strong female character who was religious.
But I didn't like that it became a forced diet for Elisa while walking through the desert and hardly much food. Elisa didn't really wonder much about her husband. She does make dear friends while being held captive.

Best Line: He who serves must not lose purity of intent
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anila
The author blurb for The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson, comes from Tamora Pierce, and it's only one word: Engrossing. It's a severe understatement.

Aside from being the bearer of the Godstone, which marks her as chosen to perform some unknown act of service, there's not much else about Elisa that stands out, and she would probably be the first one to tell you that. The only notable thing about the princess is that she's fat -- and despite what some people would tell you, that's not a personality trait.

Still, Elisa finds herself married to the king of a neighboring country, and in the middle of an international war. All the while, she has to try to figure out exactly what she's supposed to be doing, and who she really is.

Religion is central to the story, and the religion in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is very close to Christianity. I'm not sure if the author intended that, or if Christianity is just so pervasive that it's easy to spot anything similar elsewhere.

I'm not a Christian, but I wasn't thrown off by how much I was reminded of the religion in this book. If you, however, are someone who finds all religion abhorrent, or are especially put off by Christianity, this book may rub you the wrong way. Elisa spends a lot of time praying, and the idea of God's will is one that's explored throughout the story.

(Alternatively, if you are a Christian, you might find some things to quibble with over as well. I often get a little touchy when reading about religions that remind me of my own.)

As for me, though, I found the religious angle fascinating, especially when viewed through the eyes of Elisa, who begins as a child, and matures into a strong, competent young woman.

Elisa was a wonderful character to read about. While she certainly didn't start off all that impressive, she also wasn't annoying. I'm always happy to watch a character grow, but too many start off as annoying when they're just meant to be young. Those words are not synonymous! Even at the beginning, Elisa was determined and intelligent, and I loved her.

In fact, the only thing I disliked in the story was the predictability of Elisa's weight. It was interesting reading about a fat princess, but I knew it wouldn't be long until she somehow managed to shed the weight, and if we were lucky (and of course we were) it would somehow reflect her shedding her childishness and turning into a Better Person.

The real luck, however, was that Elisa was already a great person before she lost weight. Yes, she grew more as she grew smaller, but both of those things were a natural consequence of her experiences in the story. Which wasn't luck at all, really, but great writing and great characters from Rae Carson. Books like this one are why I love fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jayaa
This was an interesting book. I really like the other version of the cover and it is what originally got me interested in reading the book (I know shocking).

Elisa starting out was the sheltered insecure overweight daughter of a king. She knows that she is the chosen one although she really doesn't know what that involves. She starts out in the book by being married to the king of another territory and doesn't understand why it was her instead of her beautiful, more likeable sister. She travels to his territory only to find out that the king does not want anyone to know they are married so she struggles to understand what she is supposed to be doing and what her place is. She ends up being kidnapped and that is when she starts transforming into a strong confident person.

I really enjoyed Elisa as a character. I enjoyed watching her grow and learn and turn into a strong leader. I felt the author did a fantastic job with conveying the emotions through out the book. I never found myself bored with the story, the plot was interesting and engaging. There was plenty of enjoyable supporting characters to help Elisa realize what she can be. I also liked that some of the main supporting characters ended up being lost and it wasn't the beautiful, every dream comes true happy ending that a lot of books end up being. The world the book was set in was described well. I could picture pretty much all the places the author took us. I am definitely excited to see what happens next for Elisa. She has a difficult road to defend and I will enjoy seeing how she handles it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amy wilson
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was my first try at historical fiction AND Fantasy, and i gotta admit, I like the combination! I applaud Rae Carson for choosing a non standard protagonist. Looking back, i was very shocked with the description of the protagonist.. an overweight, young princess with family issues. Good to know that in the land of princesses, not everyone is a carbon copy of cinderella or snow white.
Ok back to the story, got sidetracked a bit. So The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I honestly don't know the fire and thorn part, but she was The Girl with the Blue Stone. The idea that there is a chosen one and is imprinted by having an amulet embedded in the navel grosses me out and fascinates me. At the beginning Elisa started off as a typical youngest daughter, off to be married too early (age of sixteen), and even though she's the chosen one, she doesn't know WHY or HOW she could make a difference. Then she moved away from her family and palace and into a foreign and quite hostile surroundings where she had to learn to buckle up and grow a spine.
This book had so much going on, so many events, and shocking discoveries, journeys, and near death experiences. I was totally invested in the characters. Which is why Rae Carson broke my heart so many times throughout the book. While this isn't what I'm typically used to, it was very refreshing and quite frankly exceeded my expectations when I first started reading it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cindy c
I kept hearing about how fantastic this book was, and I heard it from people I trusted. So when it came time to figure out what to read next, this book was an easy choice. I'll summarize it by saying I was definitely not disappointed! In fact, I loved this book!

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (Greenwillow, September 20, 2011)

What is this book?
It's a high fantasy, but there are a number of things that set it apart from other high fantasies out there. First, it's set with a Spanish influence as a backdrop. I love this unique heritage; it gives the book such a fresh feel. Second, the descriptions and journeys are truly well done. As the characters traveled across the desert, I was right there with them, short on food and water and broiling under the sun. The author captures this world wonderfully.

What did I love about this book?
I loved the magic behind the Godstones. I want to know more about how they work and how they came to be and what makes a person have one. I also loved the romance. I am dying to know what is going to happen in book 2 as far as the romance goes. No spoilers here, but let's just say I am left with almost no predictions.

I highly recommend this book for fans of high fantasy, or for those young adult fantasy fans looking for something a little different or a bit more classic.

Source of book: From publisher at trade show
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
myjah
NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. 5 STARS FOR RAE CARSON

I started reading this book thinking it would be similar to all the other adventurous YA books. It did not take long for me to realize that The Girl of Fire and Thorns is so much more than an adventurous read, but inspiring. As I continued to fly through the chapters by the dozen, I realized that although this book is a work of fiction with many wonderful imaginative aspects, there are many instances certain text could be applied in real life.

This is a story of a princess who finds courage, love, friendship, and God's purpose for her while on a journey for freedom, strength and her own self identity. I immediately became attached to the main character princess Lucero-Elisa and others such as Humberto, Cosmé. I even grew fond of King Alejandro, but that was towards the end of the story once he showed more courage. Rae Carson has proven to be, in my eyes, a wonderful writer that not only develops characters with a great deal of complexity but ones in which the reader can connect with from the beginning. I love the strong and complicated characters that have been created and desperately hope this book is first among many in a series that I can lose myself in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vanessa fitzgerald
I really loved this book! It was so refreshing to have such a believable and relatable heroine who is not the typical “beautiful and skinny” stereotype, but still have admirable traits such as intelligence and bravery. Elisa’s transformation throughout the book was done so well and Rae’s writing is so gorgeous! I read this for VCFA, but I wish I had read it two years ago when it was first recommended to me. This book surprised me in so many ways and had me laughing, crying, and all feeling all the emotions. I was hooked from the beginning and enjoyed every moment of it. I’m so excited for the next two books in the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
john ledbetter
''I loved that the author chose a Spanish-influenced culture for the story's backdrop. In most of the fantasy I've read, the cultures tend toward more English and French roots, with plenty of Norwegian and Viking-ish clones. I've also seen quite a few with Arabic and Egyptian accents, but Spain? I don't think I've read any like that before. That I find very exciting.

So it's refreshing to see that influence in the book, in the character's names, place settings, and even the flow of the language. The fact that I'd recently returned from a trip to Spain before reading likely influenced my notice of the language. As I read, the text flowed with a Spanish cadence through my head, the lull and rise of rolling syllables and the passion behind the words.

That said, I struggled with one element of the story, and it colored my overall impression of the book. The main character, Princess Elisa, isn't skinny, not in the least. That's great; books need more characters who represent teens of all colors, shapes, and sizes. The problem I has was with the way Carson handled (treated? I can't think of the right word) Elisa's obesity. Yes, overweight women and teens eat a lot, or at least more than they're burning off through activity, but I don't know of a single woman dealing with weight issues who thinks of food all the time. Sure, Elisa's a stress-eater (I am too, though I've learned to temper it to a good extent), but focusing so much of the character's thoughts on food and eating--always hungry, need food--overstates it to the point of caricature.

I'm guessing Carson didn't intend for it to come across that way, but with so much emphasis placed on the princess' eating habits (even once she begins to lose weight), it throws the story out of balance. It becomes the story of a fat princess who loses weight, and not the story of an awkward girl who does her best to save a kingdom despite some rather difficult physical and emotional limitations.

All that said, it's an enjoyable read, and I can see why it has so many devoted fans. The book was reminiscent of--and perhaps a tribute to--Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure (The Song of the Lioness) series. So I'm giving this book 3 1/2 stars with the hope that the sequel will improve upon the first and make this a 5 star series.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
devon ricketts
The genre I could only describe as YA Fantasy, mixed with old world princess, king, and a secret marriage wrapped into one 423 page book.

Elisa the princess of Orovalle, is depressed with her life, herself, and hates being fat (never is that word really used). To add to her woes she has a beautiful, future queen, older sister, who she believes hates her, and who is great at EVERYTHING! To top it off Elisa is blessed by God, the chosen one (overused I know), and shall have a great destiny. However, life is about to change when on her sixteenth birthday, she is to become the secret of the wife of the handsome King of Joya, Alejandro. If you're thinking now this is going to be a rehash of a Cinderella story, you would be wrong. It is instead a story of an adventure without the perfect heroine. The book unfolds a fantastical new world, new problems, and a coming of age story all rolled into one. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to any YA fantasy/romance lovers.

"Honor from death," I snap, "is a myth. Invented by the war torn to make sense of the horrific. If we die, it will be so that others may live. Truly honorable death, the only honorable death, is one that enables life."
-- Rae Carson (The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1))

"I almost panic then. The pleasure-power feeling flees, replaced by humiliation. It's obvious my husband doesn't recognize his own wife. Yet even in this public place, he can't be bothered to hide his admiration for a woman that he finds attractive.

He used to stare at me so intently, like I was the only thing in the world. Have I changed so much? Or maybe that mesmerizing gaze was just a weapon in his arsenal of appeal. Maybe he never actually saw.

Anger carries me the remaining distance. He is the one who should feel grimy with shame, not me."
-- Rae Carson (The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1))
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mike lomonico
This book has gotten a lot of buzz, and it met all of my expectations. One of the best things about the whole story is Elisa's transformation from a self conscience, insecure younger sister to a warrior and a leader. When I am reading YA, I am always looking for the protagonist that grows and overcomes adversity and this story was that and more. Elisa was so quiet and unsure of herself in the first part of the book that I didn't think she would be able to become Queen or survive her husband's court. As the story unfolds, she is forced to fight and then becomes willing to fight. She is fighting for what she believes is just and is even willing to sacrifice her own life to do it.

Elisa's character is not the only one that shows development. The people who grow to love her and eventually look to her as a leader become as dear to you as Elisa herself. I loved the feeling of really getting to know everyone in the story and even changing my opinion about a few of them. This book was exciting, gut-wrenching adventure with a side of romance that was beautiful and bittersweet. I am really looking forward to seeing what Rae Carson does with the next book in the series. I gave this book 4 stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ms kahn
I'm still kind of reeling from the ending. It seemed like everything happened so fast at the conclusion. The language and writing of this book was beautiful, and it was a unique story. While I didn't feel it was *as* amazing as some reviewers seemed to think, I did think it was executed very well.

The things I didn't like as much ... well, those are spoilers. Big ones. So I won't go there. Suffice to say, with the next book, I'll just be hoping that the love story develops a little more to my liking.

While some pretty big things happen in the book, I found I wasn't as emotionally attached as I felt like I should have been. I think because the author does such a great job with the description and cultural elements, that emotions were maybe hurried. When I say that the author does a great job with cultural elements and descriptions though, I'm not kidding. I felt like the whole world was very well developed and real, even though it was so unique.

Overall, the book was very well written and I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cuprum
Yeah, I realize I'm a bit behind on this series, but better late than never, right? So there is one person every century who is chosen as the bearer of a Godstone and destined to fulfill some great, divine purpose. Elisa is the bearer and a princess, married off to the king of a neighboring country as a move in a looming war. But it seems everyone wants the Godstone she bears, and will go to any lengths in order to obtain it. Let me tell you, you'll have your heart ripped out a handful of times while reading this story, but it is worth the heartache. Elisa begins the story as a frightened and uncertain sixteen-year-old girl, but grows and becomes infinitely stronger than even she could imagine. I was awake until four in the morning reading it because I could not put it down. It reminds me of the sort of world Graceling and Throne of Glass are set in, of sorts. And, of course, there is a magic unique to this story-the whole concept of the story is fresh and imaginative, really, and well worth the read. 5/5 stars ;)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
liviu duta
I am really glad this book wrapped up as if it were a stand alone. I don't plan to finish the rest of the series--a first for me.

At first I really liked that Elisa was a "chubby" heroine. It was unique. But I got bored with the constant food descriptions. And did she really have to talk with her mouth full so often? The way she described herself: Pig, small eyes, big pomegranate cheeks with slug lips...The novelty of a chubby heroine wore of quickly in cringe worthy moments. Very disappointing.

The concept, the stone in her navel, was bizarre. The line at the end when the amulet lined up with her navel stone and whirled around made me cringe.

I also didn't care at all for the religious concept.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
catherine james
The books starts off slightly slow, but I think this is completely necessary.
Once the action got rolling I couldn't put the book down.

Elisa is a fat princess who eats away her troubles. This all changes as she is kidnapped, and her hardships cause her to toughen up and lose weight, to face her problems head on, and reveal her true strength within.
One of her captors is a boy who is kind to her despite it all, and eventually they fall for each other.

This is a pretty good fantasy, with a strong, likeable female protagonist who wields magic.
The book is well written, with perfectly chosen words and execution, and solid plot.
Some parts have me smirking and laughing and other parts have my eyes brimming over.

My favorite thing about the protagonist is that she is not static. She grows and changes as the book unravels, and begins with small choices of courage and small deeds of bravery to make her change convincing.
Her development from a pampered, insecure, fat princess to a brave, clever fighter is a huge part of the reason this book is so riveting. There also is a bit of romance weaved throughout the book, a perfect, balanced amount of it, in my opinion.

If going back in time, I would buy this book again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura murray
This review is for the whole series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, including the extra novellas.
It was the first book that grabbed my interest from page one for quite some time, and then held it non-stop; I inhaled the whole series in about a week. It was very refreshing to have a heroine whose looks are not the conventional petite-blonde-blue-eyed, but rather a dark-skinned, dark-haired, overweight princess (and the enemy kingdom populated with blue-eyed blondes). More importantly she was relatable and likable, as well as fierce, loyal, intelligent, and decisive. After being married off without any say-so, she slowly strove to find her agency and became a force to be reckoned with no matter the circumstances.

I initially groaned at the romantic triangle set-up in the first book, but was delighted at how unconventionally it ended - and that it wasn't dragged out across all three books. I also found the monotheistic religion in the books a refreshing change as most fantasies these days go for pan- or polytheistic religions. And it was nice to see Elisa wrestle with what her faith and fate meant; being singled out for the honor of being a godstone didn't magically provide her with all the answers or an unwavering unquestioning faith in either god or herself.

In sum this series is a non-stop adventure with well-written, interesting characters that is refreshing in its refusal to follow common fantasy tropes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
monsewage
"Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one."

The author of this book, Rae Carson, does a great job of showcasing Elisa's journey from untried girl to confident woman. Despite the fact that she is royalty and chosen she goes through many of the ordeals teenage girls experience. Watching her battle self confidence and weight is all too familiar.

Some secondary characters fell flat, though. They all had moments when they felt like people but then they would slip back, seamlessly blending in with the wallpaper. This is a problem I especially noticed wth Elisa's romantic interest(s).

The plot is by far the best aspect of the story. It twists and turns, going places that I didn't even view as a possibility when I began the story. The theme of Elisa finding her destiny added psychological depth to the novel. The concept of fate within Fire and Thorns will be the spark of many book club discussions.

Overall, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a commendable debut novel. The next book in the trilogy, The Crown of Embers, is slated to be released in the fall of 2012.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
darren walker author
A kid is marked with the divine Godstone, demonstrating they are destined to serve God once every century. Princess Elisa is its latest bearer.
And since of a treaty, she's unwillingly married to wonderful, kind King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena. But her new fatherland is a peculiar, not-quite- area that is welcoming, particularly since the union is being kept secret for reasons that are mysterious. There are a lot of competitions, backstabbers and just a brewing war with Invierne.
And about the Godstone, Elisa shortly finds spiritual truths in Joya d'Arena that she would not be told by anybody in her state. But when she is kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries, she finds herself and a horrible magic which uses blood and Godstones. Elisa mustn't just save herself, but her new state too.
Sorcery, politics, faith, historical texts as well as a renowned jewel that channels God's will -- all of the regulars in fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
megan kortlandt
The Girl of Fire and Thorns begins inauspiciously: heroine Elisa is a self-professed lazy, chubby, sheltered princess with the dubious fortune of bearing a magic-imbued Godstone in her navel. The beginning moves slowly despite Elisa's upcoming nuptials to a foreign king. Even their eventual marriage is fairly boring.

And then, just as I was tiring of the going-nowhere story, the tone of the book changes. Elisa reveals hints of assertiveness and determination. Compelling side characters and antagonists are introduced. The setting is established as a rich, Spanish-influenced fantasy world with intriguing religious influences.

I love books that surprise me, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns - like its memorable heroine - is an unexpected gem. Moments of grittiness and the deaths of key characters add a sense of gravity to the story. The romance is sweet but bland - until a startling twist renders it oddly satisfying. Most of all, Elisa's development from food-obsessed intellectual to courageous revolutionary is written so believably and subtly that it's impossible not to sympathize with her. I also liked the self-contained nature of the ending, though I eagerly await other books in the proposed trilogy.

Despite its slow start, The Girl of Fire and Thorns possesses a complex fantasy setting, surprising plot, and a unique, relatable heroine.

Rating: 4.5/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
moonfire
I loved Elisa! She was so easy to relate to and not at all unreasonably whiny (like many female protagonists seem to be). Maybe one of the reasons that's true is she's not a skinny pretty girl who somehow has confidence issues but she's spoiled and fat (and knows it). This is the first time I've ever read a fantasy adventure book with a plump heroine - how refreshing!

All of the secondary characters are also well-drawn. The desert scenery was vividly depicted and was as integral to the story as its characters. There is much love and loss in this book and the pages fly by with the action-packed plot.

It is interesting to note how the author deals with skin-deep beauty. While it's not overt, pay attention to how those that flaunt their attractiveness fare compared to those who are scarred or hide their beauty. I can't say more without possibly being spoilery so I'll leave it at that!

If you like fantasy books, adventure stories, and/or a bit of mysticism than you will thoroughly enjoy this book! Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie whelan
So I don’t usually read high fantasy, but I gave this one a shot and I’m certainly glad I did. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS really surprised me. Elise, the protagonist, defied the gorgeous-model-like-looks that many YA novels feature, and starts off, in fact, as a rather overweight teenager with a remarkably low self-esteem. That in itself caught my interest and following her story and watching her develop as a character was a real treat. I’ll admit that some of the more fantastical elements took a little adjusting, but THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS surprised me with many-a-plot twist that I definitely didn’t see coming (which is a rare thing, I might add) and actually got me to exclaim out loud while reading…twice.

In my book, that means I really enjoyed it, and thusly I recommend it to you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikky b
[Originally posted at [...]]

OKAY, so I've been told a couple of times to read this book, and then I found it at my library and then I read it and could not put it down. This book is insanely captivating. The plot and story is like old-school YA. Not a ton of romance, or vampires/werewolves/aliens/what-have-you, it's like action. With an awesome heroine, who does ALL OF THE SAVING. She don't need no man. (I wanted to say that so bad) And the character development is brilliant. And so is the world-building. And the plot wrenches one's poor little heart, and I barely have one left- my English teacher even likened it to the color of my hair (very, very dark)- and it still wrenched. It was THAT AMAZING.

So, Elisa is turning 16, and it's her wedding day. She's a princess and is being married off to some foreign king. She's really petulant and whiny, and finds solace in food. That is to say, she's described as a big girl. She marries the king (who is very nice and not so bad to look at either), and they go off (with her nurse and maid, and, you know, his entourage) to his kingdom. I forgot to mention she has this thing in her bellybutton called a Godstone- which means that she has been chosen by God to do something great. The Godstone answers her prayers and gives her warnings by heating up or getting really cold. It's neat and really, really different. She ends up meeting this awesome guy named Humberto (who is her age, unlike the king, who has a young son), and there is kind of a romance there. Most of the plot is centered on this impending attack from this group called the Invierne, and Elisa's role in helping defeat them.

Like I said earlier, Elisa was really immature at the beginning of the book. But, as the story went on, she matured and became an amazing leader and a really strong heroine. Now, I've read reviews where people said they didn't like her 'til the end, but I felt for her the entire book. She was never annoying, she was just sheltered and lonely, and she had to come out of her shell. I thought it was really cool that, as her personality changed for the better, she lost weight and took better care of herself. And the fact that she basically has to pray to keep her life together (this is literally a thing near the end of the book because of her Godstone) is really neat. The whole book is just really fun to read and so interesting.

I love how different is from other YA. I hadn't even realized I was tired of what I was reading until I read this book! It is amazingly well-written, and I highly recommend it! This is DEFINITELY a 5 'stache book :D
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
claudia marcela
Elisa is a different type of heroine, as not only does she feel like a useless, fat princess, she carries a Godstone that marks her place in a prophecy. Once she is taken from her privileged life, then the strength of her real character comes forward and proves her to be a capable leader.

But it's a brutal struggle to get through it all, and when her feelings between her husband of an arranged marriage and her kidnapper, Humberto, are split, then she has to make the decision to help her new friends and keep her Godstone from falling in the hands of those who would burn the world with it, or running away while she still can.

Probably the only thing I didn't like about this book is that there is a lot of death, though I'm not going to give away any spoilers. Will be reading the second book of this trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
isaac nichols
I have some books "sitting" on my kindle cloud, just waiting and waiting for me to start reading them. This is one of those stories. The main character knows she is destined for a greater purpose, and will have no choice of who to marry, and she is content with this. However, her life takes unexpected turns. Even though she has been kept in the dark about many things, she is not inept. I love those kinds of characters, who have a stronger character within themselves. The story has a sadness about it as well. There are some "what ifs". This book is somewhat regency meets fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anne clark
**spoiler alert** The only reason this book gets five stars is because that's as high as this ranking system goes, otherwise it deserves higher. The plot was complex but not too complicated to follow along, the pacing was dead on to keep me turning the pages without feeling like I'd missed something, and the characters were perfect to make me feel so many different emotions while I was reading. I felt nervous for Elisa while reading about her arranged marriage, scared for her during the attack on the way to the castle, cried with her at the death of her friend, felt insecure every time someone mentioned her weight. Elisa is a great character, both as a strong central female character and a character who makes you feel exactly what she's feeling throughout the book.
This book delivers on everything I look for in a story. I felt connected to Elisa through her entire journey, cared about the same people she did, felt so much outrage while crying during the deaths of her friends. I couldn't put it down until I finished it and the sequel is going on my must-read list.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sandy f
Elisa the main character is a sixteen year old fat princess who is married off to a foreign kingdom on her 16th birthday. She's also the only living bearer of a Godstone, a celestial artifact shrouded in prophecy and indicating servitude to a higher power. Had a terrible time relating with the main character and getting into the novel. Finally gave up at page 117, only reading the first ten chapters.

Why couldn't I get into the novel? It's written in the off-putting first person perspective, present tense, and Elisa is an unreliable narrator. Her actions and inner thoughts do not match. Inside she's got a border-line eating disorder (eats under stress) and is uncertain with no confidence. Outside, she's a decisive, prescient leader who cannot make mistakes. She saves the life of her warrior husband. She laughs at herself at just the right time in a social situation. She dances the political dance expertly, in direct contradiction to the persona Carson is trying to write. This did not work for me.

The other problem with the book is how slow it goes. Carson writes too much expository setting, specifically religious metaphysical discussion and landscapes.

I picked it up because I've been into Tamora Pierce and this cover had a glowing rec by her. Did not meet that hype. Pierce has mastered the pacing/exposition balance unlike Carson, and I found Pierce's characters much more likeable. Unlike other YA I have enjoyed, this story felt 'young' to me.

Add some stars if you are an overweight teenage girl who is questioning what to believe religiously. Avoid if you are an adult reader who likes good YA.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian speck
I enjoyed this book the whole way through. I really liked the main character Elisa. She has eating issues and knows it but doesn't let it determine her actions. I liked so many things about this book. The main things you need to know is it is a great read for teens...its clean with a heroine that is strong from the inside out. I loved how the book was written it was never preachy and it flowed at a good pace. There wasn't reflection and I mean that in a good way some authors like Sanderson get way to involved with what characters think versus act. The only point that I thought feel short of my total approve is the ending. I feel that a character that is so decisive on so many points would have been more decisive about her feelings in the love department as well. She would have come across as growing more and stronger and more self confident if she knew exactly how she felt towards the king. Overall though I'd have to give it 5 stars it was so refreshing to relate to a girl that loves eating.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
galihmelon
This was a surprisingly good read. I had avoided this book because the summery made the lead character and plot seem too contrived and banal, but it wasn't at all that way. The plot was engaging throughout, filled with immense and pleasing character development all around. I would strongly recommend this to all readers who like an underdog imperfect heroin who faces struggle after struggle and grows in an amazing and reasonable manner to become the strong and pleasing woman we adore. The world creation was also above average, romance was there but NEVER stupid, and it never got in the way. All-around good read (3.95)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel niles
What can i say about this story that has not been said? For starters it is original. The story may carry the same story lines that you find in your typical fantasy but what makes the story really special is the characters. You do not see many characters like Elisa. What I love about her is that she not your typical beauty, she has her flaws. For one she is fat. It was really cool that the author created a character that some people could relate to and even look up to. Elisa also has the same flaws that many of us have. We all probably have that feeling of not being good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. I also love Elisa and Humberto's romantic relationship. The author gives a positive message that it doesn't matter what you look like people will like you or love you for who you are. I have not read the second book to the series yet, I hope it is just as entertaining as the first.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
matthijsheuts
This book was not what I was expecting. I was really in the mood for a high fantasy and I'd heard tons of people compare this book to Graceling by Kristin Carshore. In my opinion the two were not similar at all. I think my biggest sticking point in this book wasn't the setting, or the plot but the characters themselves. I just didn't care about Elisa and not caring about a main character is the kiss of death for a book.

Elisa is a princess and the book begins at her wedding to a distant King whose country is on the brink of war. Elisa describes herself as fat, and throughout the book I think we are meant to believe this is a character flaw. She is not confident in herself, and despite being the bearer of the Godstone a gift that comes about only once every four generations she does not see herself as being worthy or able to do anything. I do not like self deprecating heroines and for the first half of the book Elisa did not take control of her life or strive to be anything but the "fat princess". It wasn't until she was force marched across the desert and began losing weight that she thought herself worthy and began to do something with her life. This disappointed me. I wanted Elisa to be confident in herself regardless of her size, the fact that she couldn't be secure in herself left a bad taste in my mouth the rest of the novel.

I also had a hard time relating to the other characters in the novel. Elisa is so quick to accept her captivity and those that are responsible for it. I thought this was incredibly unrealistic, eor she had the quickest form of Stockholm syndrome ever recorded? Either way she was quick to forgive these characters but I wasn't. I wanted her to grow a backbone, learn to say no, and fight for her own path.

I also wish someone would have warned me about all the religious undertones and themes in this book. I am not a very religious person and so the inclusion of religion needs to be tastefully done for me to appreciate it in the story. Glamorous Illusion by Lisa T. Bergren was an example of a novel with religious themes that was very well done and I enjoyed. In The Girl of Fire and Thorns there was just too much religion not enough plot. I felt that everything mystical was explained by praying even the Godstone was activated by praying really *extra* hard.

Overall, this just wasn't the book for me. I wanted so much to enjoy it but there were just too many little things that bothered me for me to really love this novel and I have no plans to pick up the sequel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
doriya
This was an absolutely engrossing fantasy, with a unique heroine and a fully developed alternate world.
Elisa, the younger princess of a vaguely Spanish seeming kingdom, is arranged in marriage to a prince, for political reasons. Despite being something of a scholar, Elisa is unprepared for court intrigue, and unsure how to handle her powers as the bearer of the godstone, a gem inside her that carries magical power.
Rather than being another prince and princess love story, this was an epic adventure/coming of age story, and Elisa was one of the most satisfying heroines I have encountered in quite a long time. I do wish there had been maps- I feel like high fantasy should always come with maps!
But this and Daughter of Smoke and Bone have turned my attention to a genre that I have always avoided, and I can't wait for the enxt book!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
pedro serafim
The Writing isn't the best. It's slow at the start, but the author seems to warm up and gets progressively better.

May I say, the plot is original. It's not the first `Chosen One' book that I have read, and it won't be the last, but the unique twist to it is that this `Chosen One' - Elisa - shouldn't have been chosen. She's fat, lazy and spoiled. But Elisa soon changes, like a caterpillar into a butterfly; at the end of the book, she's strong, brave, and beautiful and can rule a kingdom.

The timing is average. Like the title says; the first part is slow. I had a very hard time concentrating on it, because nothing happened! The second part, however, is full of suspense. The writing is at its prime, and the timing is better. The third part was...unexpected. Two deaths happen. I'm sorry if that's a spoiler. Trust me; you won't expect it. At all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tyler borchers
This is such a fantastic series that has quickly become one of my favorites.
The author doesn't write like the readers are stupid. She writes beautifully and I have to look a words or phrases up now and then
She has the atmosphere of this almost Renaissance-like time period in this world down perfectly.
She creates a lead character a lot of us can relate to, and who has a lot of room for growth from girl to woman. She may not be as likable at first (except her sharp mind) but she develops so much across the series.
And there's not really a love triangle because there isn't love between two people in that 'triangle'. I was quite thankful for that.
I don't want to give too much away so I won't do a book summary but I highly recommend this series (especially to 'Graceling' fans)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sabreen
"Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness"...meet Elisa. Fat, kind, and the younger princess, she is no stranger to the shadows. She relies on her sister and food to get her through. Then in a whirlwind of activities she is married to the handsome King in a neighboring land and traveling through hostile lands to reach her new home. There is so much she does not understand, but most importantly her purpose. Why was she chosen? What does her Godstone mean? Is that the only reason her new husband wants her? How is she going to be Queen?

In time all will be revealed. Soon her cumbersome purpose will reveal itself. Will she be able to rise to the occasion? Can she stay the course and save her people? Love, Loss, and the glory of dying young will show Elisa that being the chosen one is a heavy weight to bear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cylon mistress
I was sent this book with high hopes. I was not disappointed. I love a book that is a coming of age love story with a little adventure and magic and you get it all in this book. I loved the way the character grew and changed in this book because of her circumstances. I was not prepared for the emotions I felt as I read. This is not a soft fairy-tale but a story of war and change and a girl who learns about herself threw many hard things. I was very satisfied when I closed this book. I am expecting a sequel to this and it alluded to one in the final paragraph, but the story came to a close and I was very afraid it wouldn't! This is an older novel the character deals with some serious stuff, but it was well written. There is a fair amount of violence and suffering from a people suffering from war and some kissing. 16 and up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
simon innes
I have very specific tastes in books, as to storylines and characters. Generally, I can enjoy books that disappoint me in most of these areas, becasue almost every book will. Every now and then, however, there is a book that slices through my mind like fire and completely reanimates my reading life.

This was that kind of book.

I love it. I bought my own copy without ado and lent it to everybody who would take it.

There is really nothing I can say about The Girl of Fire and Thorns that hasn't been said already. I just wanted to take this opportunity to express to the world how very, very much I adore this book. Like The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) and Demon King, The (A Seven Realms Novel), it has reminded me that perfect books do exist. I can't wait for the sequel!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yang
I was really excited to read this book my friends raved and said it was great read. I am so sad to say that this book was a disappointment for me and that in no means it was a terrible book. It had a great potential, i was intrigued by the concept of the chosen with the Godstone in the navel, i wanted their to be exciting edge of their seat action, their just wasn't. I was bored half way through as Elisa was walking to yet another destination. I was left wanting when nothing really came of the godstone concept. Their a lot of book that get talked up in their hype and this one just did not live up to the hype for me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kimmico
I absolutely loved Graceling &Fire (Graceling) by Kristin Cashore, and had heard this book compared to it, so I thought I'd give it a try. While it was pretty good, well thought out and enjoyable, it wasn't in the same league for me.

First of all, the cover art is horrible (this includes all the different versions I've seen). It gave me a sense that The Girl of Fire and Thorns is just a inexpensive version of a really good fantasy book. It might not be important to some but it really leaves an impression for how I perceive the book before starting it.

Elisa is not the most likeable character, especially in the beginning, as her attitude is attached mostly to her self-hatred based purely on her weight. I found this to be a sad thing to focus on when this book is geared toward young adults who are already so self critical. Got a few extra pounds? Might as well assume this hot king won't love me and eat myself into oblivion! It really doesn't matter that he's a pitiful person who has no business being king and treats her like a fat kid he can mold into his secret war advisor.

Despite this huge flaw, the story not revolving around appearance was well told. I liked the history that went along with being the bearer of the Godstone. Written with great attention to detail, I really could visualize all the different settings, from jungle to desert. I liked that the location changed often and Elisa was never in the same place for very long. The progression of her character was believable... but once again, I was extremely aggravated by how closely her confidence connected to her weight. I'm all for someone feeling better through taking care of themselves, but she was deprived and shoved through the desert against her will, it wasn't like she committed to a better way of life. The ending was good, but there was no big twist that I had seen mentioned elsewhere. Personally, I think it would have been best to wrap this up in one book, instead of ending with the possibility of more, whether it be a trilogy or series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
josh anderson
I wasn't quite sure about this one as I read through the beginning of the book. Our MC doesn't have a backbone and doesn't act like a princess, even though that is what she has always been. I hung in there though and I'm glad I did. It was interesting seeing her develop and change. I also liked (even though it made it bitter-sweet) that this wasn't a happy and smooth tale. There are some definite gritty, sad, and scary parts where you don't know how it will ever end well, but I think this made it feel more realistic in some ways. I don't know if I felt the way the god-stone worked out in the end totally worked for me, but definitely an interesting world and characters that the author created. There is some innuendo and violence. I would say 16+.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kranthi
I loved this book. I am way too old for a YA book, but I liked the story so well I kept reading. The strugle of being who you are and who you could become is all through the book. Learning to grow up and look at other peopel's lives to determine how you should go forth is the path Elisa must choose. She has help along the way to determine how she will grow and rule. Her tale is an old one with surprising twist and turns. Her love interest change and sometimes not of her making. She has a journey to maturity through the book. Being born with her "gift" the Godstone is something she can not get away from but eventually understand and embraces. I would recommned this for any reader who love to read for enjoyment. I can't wait for the 2nd book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lindsay maher
What a fabulous book. Everything about this book was solid writing, storyline, characters. At times it was a bit predictable but full of action to keep the pages turning. It is a book you will not be able to put down. I got attached to Humberto and Alejandro. I loved that Queen Elisa evolved into a strong ambitious character overtime. Its really fun to watch her progress in the beginning to a shy insecure young girl to a more confident young women. The writing of this book is full of wonderful description and action. It is interwoven with some religous context but is not overly done or offending. I have purchased the next book on pre order and I can hardly wait to start. At this point I hope to learn more about Lord Hector as I dont know what to think of him yet
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kajal
This is the second book I've read in the last week that was published in fall 2011 and is about a 17ish year old girl in a richly imagined fantasy alter-universe with the title "PERSON of NOUN and NOUN." (The other book was Daughter of Smoke and Bones. Hopefully I will get around to reviewing it one of these days. It wasn't bad.)

This is the story of Elisa--a deeply insecure, overweight princess, who happens to be the bearer of a thing called the "godstone" which is a giant jewel type thing somehow attached to her bellybutton. Godstone bearers come around once in 100 years and they are expected to perform some heroic act of service for their people. No one understands why fat, boring, depressed Elisa of all people would be chosen to bear the godstone, but alas. She has an arranged marriage to a powerful king in a neighboring country and pretty early on things get intense; there are attempts on her life (because people want that godstone!), a kidnapping, guerrilla warfare, a typical underdeveloped YA-style romance, a transformation from fat/ugly to thin/super hot (because obviously a fat girl couldn't be the heroine of an entire book, who would want to read about a fatty for hundreds of pages on end? Gross much?), and an epic battle at the end.

Certain things about the book were really great. It's a page turner; I read it in two nights for hours at a time. The world Carson has created, while similar to our own, is fascinating in the ways that it differs. There is no modern technology (no electricity, no cars, etc.), yet the gender distinctions that exist even to this day in the real world between men and women are virtually nonexistent. Elisa masterminds battle strategies, directing warriors and statesmen alike in the art of war, and no one bats an eyelash that a woman would have this role. I also like that we're given no explanation what exactly this world is. The "Lengua Classica" that the noble people speak is basically Spanish, the religion people follow seems like a Jesus-less brand of Catholicism, rich with bizarre ritual and history, and the terrain is similar to that of our own world (deserts, jungles, etc.). It could be a postapocalyptic world, or it could be a fantasy universe altogether--I like that the author doesn't spell it out and leaves it up to our imagination.

The animagi were very well done. I could really picture them with their terrifying glowing blue eyes and their white hair and their evil creepiness, standing in a row with glowing amulets getting ready to burn people alive. Very scary bad guys----very effective. I wish we could learn a little more about their history though; were they former bearers themselves or did they snatch the godstones in their amulets off of others? Did they start as normal people who just got caught up in the lust for power? Maybe Carson will give us more info later in the trilogy.

I liked Elisa as a main character, though I agree with some other reviewers' complaints that it's disappointing that she only comes into herself after she has a dramatic weight loss and transforms into an attractive person. While on the one hand I commend Carson for what no other author in this genre I'm aware of has ever done---having a fat female protagonist---it's unfortunate and not sending a great message that she had to lose all the weight and become physically attractive before she began demonstrating admirable character traits and acting like a real leader. Oh well.

I thought the romance was bland and lacking depth. Like so many of these books, it happened way too fast and was all telling, no showing. I felt that I had a pretty good idea of who Elisa was as a character, but her love interest was completely undeveloped, and the few scenes they shared together before the romance flared up were pretty passionless and dull. I could see no reason why the love interest (forgetting his name at the moment, sorry) was attracted to her because all the author did was tell us he was attracted to her; there was no showing. Elisa's attraction was easier to buy--as a fat chick obviously she is starved for love and would be into anyone who showed an interest. Humph.

That said, I appreciate that the romance was by no means a central component of the book. This is a story about a warrior princess who goes from being pampered, insecure, and basically useless, to becoming a brilliant political leader and military strategist, and that is the main point, not her romantic interludes. This is a nice change from a lot of other YA books (not that I don't love a good set of star crossed lovers, don't get me wrong).

SPOILERS:
The ending seemed very lame and contrived to me. It was also extremely confusing. I'm still not sure what happened, so forgive me if I'm getting it wrong. One minute, all hell is breaking lose--the animagi have broken into the castle and have Elisa & her family surrounded. The next, Elisa has a revelation about godstones and realizes if she grabs five of them and like, attaches them to the flowery bath tiles in her bathroom--tiles that were designed by a former bearer and conveniently are mere feet away from the room where everyone happens to be gathered when the animagi attack--then a very magical thing will happen and wonderful white power will shoot forth and cripple her attackers.

In truth, this felt like a sort of lame, fanfictiony imitation of the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, when the Ring is destroyed and there's that massive power wave that ripples through Sauron's army and incapacitates the enemy. The difference is, we knew all along what needed to be done with the Ring, because Tolkien sets the whole thing up brilliantly, whereas in this book, this magical bath tile + godstone idea turns up out of the blue and just seems a little too convenient. Like the author got herself into a deep pickle and knew she wanted the good guys to win but couldn't figure out how, so she just made some random stuff up at the end. Felt lazy.

Over all though, an enjoyable read. The fact that I read this straight through cannot be overlooked. I enjoyed it as I was reading it, even if I complain now. Still, don't think I'll be bothered to read the sequel. 3 stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rick blasing
I cannot believe I waited so long to read this and I can't believe this book is not more popular. In my opinion this should be on everyone's favorite list!!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is the story of Elisa, a young girl chosen by God, even though in her 16 years she is chosen by no one else ever!! Elisa has to learn quick to be a survivor, and taps into an inner strength and uses her intelligence to do what no one else can!

This is an amazing book filled with action, adventure, mystery, danger, and love! it is a spell binding tale of growth and inner strength!! I cannot wait to read the rest of this series! So. Good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ryan mccarthy
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is certainly an interesting novel that takes place some time far in the past (the dates are not clarified). My guess it takes place between the 1400's-1600's considering the characters use lit candles and travel by horses. The book starts off in a castle, which is Elisa's hometown. Elisa is unique, considering she was gifted with a Godstone by God, making her a chosen servant of God. What religion that is mentioned in this book does not parallel to the real bible; this is a fantasy book. I do tend to agree with many other reviews that the story was slow to start (quite frankly I am not much of a reader at all so I nearly bailed), but things become very interesting when more truth was revealed during Elisa's stay at her new husband's (the king) castle. And soon, when a certain someone realized who Elisa truly was, Elisa was kidnapped against her will. The story makes a good turn here for now Elisa is scared for her life and yet, still trying to seek truth. She was aware some great tribulation would occur but she did not know when, how, or what she can even do about it. The characters in this story do go through significant changes as the reader would read on, and in some surprising ways as well. The truths that come out are surprising, however, knowing she is a chosen one, one could expect secrets to be kept from her for "her safety."
I would recommend the book to those who are interested in a story that takes place in some other world that is not modern or sci-fi, and yet still would bring a good read that would make you question "What would I do if I were in this situation/story?"
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
michael pagendarm
Sadly, this book, which I was really excited about, proved rather disappointing. The cover promised fantasy in the vein of Kristin Cashore or Tamora Pierce, but it did not deliver.

For one thing, Elisa is not their kind of heroine. Pierce and Cashore write about extremely strong girls, the kind that, even when completely downtrodden, remain strong and determined. This, Elisa is not, although she does eventually gain in strength and confidence. At the end of the book, she is more like one of their heroines, but, in so many ways, she just does not bring them to mind at all.

I liked that Elisa was not the typical heroine at all, at least if I couldn't have my Cashore-esque heroine. Elisa is overweight, lacks confidence and hopes to be able to marry an ugly man. It's nice to read about someone so atypical sometimes. However, as has been pointed out by others, why would you represent her by the waif on the cover. Sure, the cover drew me in, but it now pisses me off. I mean, who is that? For one thing, she probably ways about 90 pounds soaking wet and, for another, she does not look particularly Spanish, as the character names suggest she should. Fortunately, the cover seems to have been changed for the published version. Good call.

The story kept me fairly interested, but I never felt particularly invested. The godstones always seemed weird and I found their ultimate use pretty dang lame. For those who like fantasy stories, unconventional heroines and don't mind some serious religious content, this is worth a try. If you're expecting something like Kristin Cashore would have written, go reread Graceling or fervently prey for the publication of Bitterblue. However, I know that lots of people have loved this, so go check out some of the high praise by authors before dismissing it completely.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abby jacob harrison
I choose 5 stars because I really enjoyed reading this book. it is mostly an adventure book with the plot busting at the seams with political intrigue. Read this novel if you are sick of the Twilight love triangles, now a staple formula in YA fiction. In this book there may be a handful of kisses between the protagonist, Elisa, and two men, a desert nomadic and a king, but the plotlines doesn't present it as a triangle. SPOILER: they both die before the book ends. But I would say that the romance is a sub-sub plotline. The main story is about being on the losing side of a war and Lady Elis of Oronvalle, and Queen of Joy d'Arena leading a band of rebels, the Malificios, in gorilla attacks against the evil Inviernos, which I believe means "winter" in Spanish.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
sheri wallace
Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Rae Carson has created a rather interesting and unique world, which the reader is thrown into very quickly. I like being thrown into the action, but this was almost too quickly for my liking. A lot of things really aren't explained and a few places the writing is just a little too choppy for my liking. I really do like creativity, but I do also like to be told about the kind of world that I am reading about. A sentence or two would have been really helpful. Simply put, I was not all that impressed with the first hundred or so pages of this book. It just did not really hold my attention all that much. Instead of longing to know what happened next, I just wanted to know how much more I had in the chapter. There was just too many plot holes for my liking.

I did not like Elisa. I know that Rae Carson was trying to create a character that many can relate too, but ended up failing, badly. Elisa is made in the image of a real girl, but does not act like a real girl. It focuses just too much on her weight and she does not embrace her body. So many girls struggle with body issues and need to embrace their body instead of trying to change it.
The writing is clearly written for a younger audience, as where the fight scenes. It seemed like no one really suffered and I just was not all that much into the whole war thing. It seemed like the plot only worked because Rae Carson made it work. Elisa was only good because Rae Carson made her good. There is just no growth, no nothing. It is just so flat!

About half way through the book, I said to myself that I could not do this anymore. This book was just too bad and so poorly done. The characters are not relatable and are just so poorly put together. I was not at all interested in the action scenes and often times found myself wondering away from the book. I did not feel anything from this book. Nothing. Normally, there is something I like, but not this time. It just did not hold my attention and I did not even finish it.

This story is just all around poor! I was not impressed on bit by it and am giving it a big thumbs down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marijke durning
This book tells the story of a girl who is has, as a child, been chosen for greatness but does not feel great. Because Elisa is a princess she is married to the king of foreign country whom she has never met. I do not want to give away too much of the story but what I truly enjoyed is the fact that this young lady overcame her own insecurities to accomplish her goals. She uses her knowledge, cunning and instincts to battle an enemy much more powerful and ruthless than she has encountered. Elisa learns to trust her knowledge and instincts, to deal with loss and turn enemies into friends. This is a story of encouragement with a spiritual message as well. Truly enjoyable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lilia garcia
I was originally going to rate The Girl of Fire and Thorns at 3 stars because I do not enjoy reading fantasy novels--especially YA fantasy novels--that are overtly political; however, by the end of the book, I grew to like Elisa; thus, the 4 star rating. She was not the kick-ass girl that I expected, but Elisa did gain knowledge, confidence, and power (both political and magical). She became everything that she was not--physically stronger, a fit body, a strong, willful personality, caring and selflessness, willingness to sacrifice for others, and emotional strength. I just wish that the petty court politics and subterfuge were missing. I do plan to read the sequel; I became attached to Elisa, and I am curious to read what happens to her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marcus conge
I adore high fantasy. Throughout high school and most of college, my favorite author was Tamora Pierce. When I first discovered Kristin Cashore, I thought, "Hmm, she reminds me of Tamora Pierce." I was thrilled to see on Cashore's blog (or an interview or...something) that Pierce was a huge influence on Cashore growing up, too. Now, a lot of the teen high fantasy I read gets compared to these two authors, from Alexandra Bracken's Brightly Woven to Leah Cypress' Mistwood. If you like A, you'll enjoy B, too! And C, and D, and E... THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson is another book to add to this list of "Authors for Fans of..." while still remaining completely a book of its own. In the future, we'll surely be saying, "If you're a fan of Rae Carson, you'll enjoy A and B and C..." The day I picked this up to read, I was deciding between it and two other titles. Ultimately, I went with this one because Tamora Pierce recommended it. Have I mentioned yet that I'm a sucker for her? Because I totally am. Once again, I've been introduced to another fantastic author. (I'm absolutely one of those people who picks up a book based on the fact that a beloved author has either blurbed it or been compared to the book being being blurbed.)

One of the things I like best about high fantasy is the world building. I have yet to encounter a land that isn't beautifully developed and rich with imagery. Carson's world is one where men have all the control and women are merely pawns for future moves. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS refers to Princess Elisa, a girl born with a Godstone in her belly. This is a blessing bestowed only once a century, and people have killed to possess the expensive gemstone that is a part of her, that grows warm with comfort or icy with fear. People have attempted to assassinate Elisa for her stone, though she's mostly oblivious to the attempts, shielded by those around her. Her kingdom is on the brink of war, and Elisa is shipped off to marry King Alejandro in the hope that her Godstone will help maintain peace and prosperity. Alas, it's not to be. Her secret is discovered and she is kidnapped and carried off into the desert, where she realizes many truths that have been kept from her--and fellow family members--over the year concerning the horrors of the ongoing war. Not only that, the enemy is also in possession of Godstones, and their dark magic is at a point where the kingdom can easily be ripped to shreds. They will stop at nothing to rip Elisa's Godstone from her and use it for their own purposes, yet Elisa might just be her kingdom's final hope.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is the first in a trilogy, and while the first book has a firm resolution, it's obvious that a lot of heartache is still to come. Carson is a gifted writer, one who can pull a reader in, capture the heart, and then tear it in two again through unexpected plot development. It's also interesting to see that the main character is an overweight princess. A lot of her life revolves around food. It's best to read this book on a full stomach. The rich food descriptions remind me a lot of the way Cindy Pon described such things in Silver Phoenix. There were times where you could taste, say, dates on the tongue or feel parched from traveling through a desert without water. Carson breathed so much life into her world that it was easy to visualize and fall into it. It's also interesting to see the infusion of Spanish throughout the novel. It aided to the culture and brought it to life in a way that might not have otherwise been possible. This book is a wonderful addition to the high fantasy genre, and I can't wait to see continue Elisa's journey and see where Carson takes us next!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
robin woodcock
16 year-old Princess Elisa is a once-in-a-generation chosen one. She's been born with a gem in her navel, signifying that she is in God's favor. The godstone appears to be mildly magical, occasionally filling Elisa with a gentle warmth when she prays, or turning cold when she's in danger. Her father has arranged a beneficial political match for her to the king of a neighboring country.

I must admit, I was initially drawn to this book by the stunning cover with the girl in a purple dress. I was disappointed when I first saw that it had been changed, because it just doesn't seem to promise the same kind of glamor and excitement as the original cover design. I do like that the new cover emphasizes the importance of the stone, which is very true to the novel. Reading the book, it's quickly apparent that the original cover, while striking, has nothing to do with the story. It's a racefail, because Princess Elisa is described in the book as having dark skin. She is shocked the first time she sees someone with blue eyes, never having seen such a thing before. She's also quite overweight. This isn't some imagined problem on her part. From the way she's described in the book, I think it would be fair to say that Elisa is morbidly obese. It's obvious that her entire family and palace staff are disgusted by her size, and the constant teasing and scolding have made her super self-concious. Elisa thinks about food constantly, always planning her next meal or snack. She can't see her toes. She gets worn out walking up the stairs. She sweats constantly. Worst of all, and this made it really hard for me to like her at first, she's an emotional eater. When someone makes a fat joke at her expense, she grabs an entire serving platter of canapes and eats the whole thing. On one or two occasions, she eats until she can't cram another bite and finally vomits. The emphasis in a medieval-type setting on the slim yet busty Western ideal of feminine beauty surprised me.

When Elisa returns with her husband King Alejandro she is mortified to discover that he plans to keep their marriage secret. Caught up in court intrigue, Elisa is soon kidnapped by a faction of rebels. They take her on a forced march across the desert that effectively acts as a fat camp. She loses the weight and seems to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, joining, and then leading the group of rebels. Her time in the desert molds her into a stronger, harder, more dangerous person - in short, someone much more fit to rule. Readers will enjoy the multiple twists and turns that the story takes, and the fast pacing of this high fantasy. This is the first in a planned trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
yohandi
From my blog, Never Gonna Grow Up! Reviews:
In a world where war cycles between a nation practicing dark magic and the nations faithful to God, a gift from God is bestowed upon one child on their naming day each century. A beautiful stone is embedded in their body on their naming day by a bright light (God). Elisa, a princess, is the chosen one. Despite this special privilege, she doesn't feel special. She's overweight, treated disdainfully by her older sister, and on her sixteenth birthday, her family marries her off to a strange king from a neighboring country. This handsome king needs her, the chosen one, but all he gets is Elisa, a religious "sausage" of a princess. It isn't until she is thrown into the middle of a war that Elisa finds her inner strength and the ability not only to help her husband and herself, but the entire world. That is, if she can figure out how to harness the gift God has given her and survive. Most chosen ones don't make it to old age.

I have conflicted feelings about "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" by Rae Carson. Mostly good, but still, conflicted. This book relies a bit too much on "show" rather than "tell". A lot of the character development stems from our heroine telling us things about the other characters. That being said, it wasn't overrun by this problem and I happily read the entire thing in a 48 hour period. Elisa is an interesting character. It was really refreshing to have a heroine who isn't thin and fair. However, her constant self-deprecation, while plot appropriate, did get a little overwhelming. I want to address two common complaints I've heard about this book.

1. Religion - Yes. It's "religious" (though nothing real world - it's all fantasy). When your lead character has a lifeline to God in her gut, her "Big Guy" is kind of going to be on her mind. It's a fantasy, people. Relax.

2. Elisa getting skinny then becoming strong - Bologna! She was strong before, she just couldn't recognize it in herself until she was forced to spend time reflecting. This time (trying to avoid spoilers here) also happened to inadvertently lose weight. It wasn't like she had a magic "lose gut and kick butt" spell put on her. It was plot appropriate.

If you're looking for a good, clean fantasy, with interesting magic and cultures, then this book is for you. There is some romance too, but it's not what the book is all about. The book is about a young woman blossoming into a force to be reckoned with. I know I cannot wait to see what happens to Elisa next.

Oh and one more thing, THANK YOU Ms. Carson for writing a series book with a very satisfying ending. Always appreciated!

I received a digital ARC from the publisher for review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer hermening
While I love this book, and the other two that accompany it, I'm finding, as I read through them a second time, that the time tables of the novels do not add up to the supposed 2-2.5 year time span of this trilogy. All of the events of the first book happen within Eliza's 16th year. She travels to the capital (2-3 months), is kidnapped and taken across the desert (1 month). Stays with the desert people (5ish months?), is discovered in the Conde's city then taken back to the capital (1ish months). War with Invierne and time leading up to it (1-2 months). Roughly 12-13 months, right, not including the various other traveling all over the country that takes, according to the novel, quite a bit of time.

We then open the 2nd novel to Elisa's 17th birthday parade. It is mentioned that Alejandro died and the war ended 5 months ago. HOW DOES THIS ADD UP?? Unless Joya's calendar is very different from ours (which I guess is possible, this is fantasy after all haha.), have I just miss calculated something?

I'm no writer, but it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to AT LEAST do the correct math and deliver a realistic and consistent time table. I do love this story, but the lack of attention to such a simple detail bothers me. Maybe Carson was so rushed to finish the next two novels, that she didn't do the math.

It probably isn't fair that I want a fantasy story to be grounded in just a wee little bit of reality.. like simple math.

Can anyone reconcile this for me?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
katie murray
Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.

Getting married at the age of sixteen to a handsome yet indecisive king is not something Elisa wants, but it is her duty as a princess and possibly something she must do to perform her act of service. As the bearer of the Godstone, a person chosen only once every century, she is expected to do something great for her people, but Elisa only sees herself as a failure of a woman. Then as soon as her husband finally begins to accept her, she is kidnapped and taken to the far reaches of her new country. The people there believe she is the savior they need, and she is ready to step up to the plate and do what is needed of her. Unless she dies young the way most bearers do, of course.

Well-paced and well-plotted, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was rarely a dull read. If I had to pick a favorite scene, it would likely be the scene in which Elisa's guardian Ximena kills a main with a hairpin. A hairpin. That is straight up awesome and I would like to learn how to do that, please. Readers who like or loathe their fantasy with religious influence will find it here and it plays into the story well without being overbearing or preachy to the reader. The idea of everyone, even the "evil" side, feeling it is God's will they do what they do was nothing new, but it did give me some food for thought.

Elisa is one of the more unique heroines I've seen in recent memory not only because she's overweight (for about 1/3 of the book) and a POC character, but also because she has so many layers to her. The kind of pressure she faces is immense and it gets to her a few times, but she learns to handle it well even when it caused her some pain (and turned her into a little bit of a Mary Sue, but whatever). For a princess in a fictional fantasy world, she feels real, especially when she engages in as familiar a behavior as overeating. I can come up with a few psychological explanations for why she eats the way she does, but she never dwells on the reasons or explicitly states why she does it.

I was surprised more than a few times over the course of the book. There's a certain sense of complacency I've developed with YA fiction; there are certain tricks and events I feel sure authors won't include in their books because the truth is that 99.9999999% of them wouldn't do it. Apparently, it's too risky. This is one of the minuscule percentage of books that would did it without worrying about how it might anger the fans or be too risky. This attempt to go against the grain and stand out worked well because I won't be forgetting about it anytime soon.

Still, if I had to come up with something to compare this book to, it would be bubble gum. I very rarely buy or chew bubble gum, but I devour it monstrously when I do. The only way I'll stop shoving more into my mouth is if someone stops me or I run out of gum. Once I've stopped chewing gum, I have no motivation to get more and start all over. A while later, I'll see more gum and think, "Oh, why not? Let's get some." Lather, rinse, repeat. This method of cramming a lot in when I have it but feeling no motivation to get back to it once I've stopped is exactly what happened with TGoFaT.

The book flaunts a few rookie weaknesses. It tended to tell me what a character was like instead of showing me so I could reach that conclusion on my own. The placement of Elisa's grand character growth after her dramatic weight loss carries a few unfortunate implications. Then at one point early in the novel, Elisa is given three Godstones that are obvious plot points for later in the novel. I found the way the book brought them up, literally buried them, and brought them back when it was time to use them to be a little lazy.

TGoFaT could have been stronger is numerous areas, but I am certain it can and will improve on those weaknesses. With the way it ended, closing one major character arc of Elisa's and hinting at more to come, I am hooked for the sequel Crown of Thorns when it comes out in September 2012. None of my friends can reach a general consensus about this book (our thoughts fall all across the spectrum), so my only advice it to take a leap of faith and try it out. This book would have four stars if the weaknesses didn't distract me so.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mikki
Strong Heroine. Plot twists that take your breath away. An ending that is satisfying and brings closure (and yet there are plot points open to sequels)...this is pretty much all you can ask of this genre's authors today and Rae Carson delivers in spades. It's slow going at first (but don't the best fantasies always start at a walk before ending at a gallop!) but picks up speed as you become familiar with the world she inhabits and the clever transmorphing of a existing religion into one that dominates this story while at the same time not overshadowing our heroine or plot. I was very satisfied at the end of the read and hope the author does extend the story beyond the border of these pages.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
christine jensen
Ink and Page's Quick & Dirty Review

Rating: 3.5

The Low Down: On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Elisa is married off to the handsome king of neighboring country Joya d'Arena. Along with her hand comes the promise of aid during an mounting war between that country and a neighboring one called Invierne. Yet, when they arrive home, the king asks Elisa to keep their marriage a secret to be revealed in due time. Even though she is the bearer of the Godstone, Elisa has always felt fat and useless. Unimportant. But once living in Brisalduce, she finds out that perhaps what she has been told about the Godstone isn't the whole truth. As she learns more about its origins, abilities and purpose, she is kidnapped and taken to the hill country. The kidnappers think she is the answer to all of their problems with Invierne. What is the truth about the powers of the Godstone and of Elisa herself?

Best Thang `Bout It: It is definitely different than most everything I have read recently. Feels historical. I also like that she's fat. Her entire being is going to go through the wringer, from her body to her mind to her core belief system, so the fact that she starts off as a lonely, uncertain young girl who uses food to make herself feel better makes it more real. This is definitely a book with girl power.

I'm Cranky Because: While this book is very well-written, it still felt a little like a book I was required to read for English class, you know, more literature than fiction. It reminds me of that genre of South American writing where everything is "normal" except for one bit of mysticism. Like, for example, one character has natural green hair and some "ability" but everyone in the story acts like there's nothing out of the ordinary about this. There's not much of an explanation, and the reader is supposed to know instinctively how much emphasis to place on this odd thing. In this book, I don't get the Godstone. I don't have a clear picture as to what it looks like and that bothers me. How is it attached in her navel? By blood vessels or does it just sit there? Also, where does the story take place? South America? Spain? Where? I felt lost in the desert. Lastly, and I don't know how to put this exactly, but sometimes religious themes put me off. Not because they are different or made up or whatever, but just because. I really have no concrete reason.

Should You?: It's a good book, so I will say if the subject matter catches your fancy, then go for it. My rating is more for the subject than the writing.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson was published on September 20, 2011 by Greenwillow Books.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Mystical Religious Historical War
Ages: 13 and up
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
feathers
In The Girl of Fire and Thorns , Rae Carson delivers a unique vision of a fantasy YA novel. Our heroine, Elisa, starts the novel as your average sometimes awkward/sometimes over-confident teen. She is apparently destined for greatness (via a prophecy and a belly button glowing gem), getting hitched to a Prince she has never met, living in the shadow of her beautiful and all-around fabulously competent sister and is chubby.

In spite of the characteristics that might cause other YA heroines to hide behind their hair (talking to you, Bella and Bella-clones), Elisa is loud and proud. Sure, she has her nervous moments, but overall, she accepts her fate with good grace and humor.

Elisa is unsure about this all of this prophecy noise, but wants to do her best when the time comes. Instead of hiding, crying or trying to run away on her wedding day, she faces it with nervous calm and wants to make her husband happy (I only bring this up to attest to her lack of whiny-ness, not because I think young girls should blindly enter into arranged marriages and live to please the menfolk. Just so you know...). She loves food and is overweight, but instead of being depressed about this, she accepts herself the way she is. She's simply a happy girl. This uniqueness makes her stand out from the pack for me.

I loved the Spanish undertones throughout and found it an interesting departure from UK based fantasy (every Prince has an English accent and is named William, right?). The Girl of Fire and Thorns does have a religious undertone, but I didn't find it distracting. The romance was fairly well done and I enjoyed the interactions. But, really, the romance took second place for me compared to Elisa's journey.

Well, you know as well as I do, dear reader, that there would be no novel if Elisa was allowed to just float through life being happy and eating danishes with her hubby, right? So, hi-jinks ensue, things and people are not what they appear to be, someone gets kidnapped and is forced to walk across a desert, secrets are exposed, other points of view are examined, love is won and lost, flirtiness happens, people die and Elisa finds her purpose.

She emerges from the fast paced and highly intriguing tale a changed woman. I loved seeing her transformation and was rooting for her at every turn. I haven't read the sequel yet (The Crown of Embers), but am interested to see where these core changes will lead her. If The Girl of Fire and Thorns was essentially a coming of age
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elisa ludwig
Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a beautifully written story of a young girl chosen to save her people. Filled with action, romance, and an interesting plot, I lost myself in the magic of the story. The words on the pages transformed themselves into vivid images in my mind, making for a fun and easy read. The story was fast-paced and each twist and turn of the plot kept me glued to the page. Rae Carson did an incredible job providing a rich history, that gave life to the characters and the settings. I really loved reading this book, and I especially loved Elisa, the main character.

Elisa is the very definition of a heroine. Faced with life-threatening situations, the pampered princess quickly learns to fend for herself and to make difficult decisions. She has a big heart and I enjoyed reading along as Elisa, in a matter of months, grew to be strong and confident, proving herself to be a capable leader and worthy adversary, gaining respect and admiration from even the most reluctant of characters. I bore her heartaches as she longed for her new husband's affection, as she struggled to find her place as his queen, as she stumbled upon a love she could not have, and as she wrestled with doubts about her destiny. Faith is a recurring theme in the book- Elisa's faith in God, in herself, in others. Throughout the book, Elisa learns that there is a reason for everything. I was very happy with the conclusion of the book and look forward to reading the next installments of this series. Love, love, love!

Review by: Mary Munar
yabooktwins of [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenn phillips
The storyline is great, adversity morphs the main character becomes this incredibly strong, intelligent, respected woman who faces challenges with unfailing faith. Faith and religion are very important in this story, because the main character is an instrument of their God and yet at no time does it preach to the reader. I'm very anti-organized-religion and this story didn't bother me one bit. I'd certainly recommend this to any young woman/girl, but I'm in my 50's and found it very enjoyable to read. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to boys even though there are many great male roles in this story, but I think I'm being sexist when I say that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rhonda offield
Elisa is my hero. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her overcome her feelings of inadequacy while always staying true and strong to her faith and purpose. Elisa's story reminds me of how old testament biblical figures must have felt when given a seemingly impossible task. Unworthy, self-doubt, why me?. As Elisa says, "God chose me because I was unworthy...I rose to the choosing. I didn't need faith in God so much as I needed faith in myself." Elisa is the most relatable fantasy character I've ever read. While The Girl of Fire and Thorns can be read as a stand-alone book, there are two additional books in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah couri
For all the crappy/mediocre YA trilogies I have plowed through on vacation, there are a few gems that make it all worthwhile. (Even when that gem happens to reside in a certain young heroine's bellybutton!) The world building, the characters, the plot...it's all carefully crafted and it draws you in completely. There are carefully placed plot reveals, and Elisa is an extremely likeable girl whom you sympathize with as she's married off to a stranger and sent off to a strange country. The "prophecy" aspect isn't annoying like it oftentimes can be in YA fantasy. [YOU ARE THE ONE...BUT WHY? NO YOU JUST ARE. OKAY, COOL.]

I can't wait for the other two books!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
cisca
this isnt a must read or anything. I woulnt say it is bad but I wouldnt say is good. If you want a good book read snow like ashes by sara raa... i forgot. abywthis is good book read it bye. Thanks for readingthis.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bartosz
This story has heart pounding moments. Heart breaking moments. Moments when I couldn't catch my breath. I was invested in the characters and their plights, fears, anxiety, courage.

Watching Elisa's personal growth from basically wall flower with no back bone to the woman of strength, intelligence, courage and cunning was breathtaking and wondrous.

The detail and imagery, the imagination, the writing, the story.....all of this makes for one incredibly awesome book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
arsonista
I really really liked this book. Elisa is awesome. Serious. Sometimes I get frustrated with female heroines that seem wishy washy. Not here. Carson still shows her struggles, but I think she does a better job of portraying Elisa's progress throughout the book than others I've read. There are two things that made me hesitate with this book. First, the names. I don't speak a second language (I took Latin in high school, go figure) so they didn't come easily to me. At the beginning, I almost put the book down because even my mind kept tripping up on them as I read. Second, there is one paragraph in this book that irritated me to no end. It's a significant event in the plot and it just happens out of the blue. I had to go back and reread it, because I finished the paragraph and was like "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!" Pick it up though, it's worth the read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica kwasniak
The beginning of this book was s l o w. Elisa was married off to a king who insisted on keeping it secret. Elisa is blessed with a god stone in her belly button, suppose to mean she is meant for great things. At first it was really hard to keep my attention. It is well written tho, every character has a strong personality that shines through. there is characters you're going to love and some you won't be able to stand. bout halfway through the plot drastically changes. There is a war threatening and revolutionaries who kidnap Elisa. Heres where she slowly starts to shine, and where the book speeds up. The transformation of Elisa is inspirational, almost not a YA book, except her age, 16.
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