Monday, September 17, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Immediately and with no remorse we are dunked into a political marriage with religious connotations everywhere. We find that Elisa is a second princess of a country and is being married to Alejandro for a supposed treaty that she's never heard of before.

On a side note, every time I read 'Alejandro' Lady Gaga's song ran through my head. It made the book a little more entertaining. Anyways.

In the first chapters, she kills a man, loses a lady in waiting to an infected wound, and finds that her new husband want to keep their marriage a secret until further notice.

First, I would like to state that I was drawn to this book because there was a quote of praise on the cover from Tamora Pierce. I loved almost all of Pierce's book, except the Terrier series, freaking diary format can suck it. I don't care but no one can remember verbatim a three page dialogue word for word. No no. ...anyways, so I picked the book up and discovered that on the back of it was praise from Veronica Roth (author of Divergent & Pandemonium) and more praise that put Rae Carson on the same level as Kristin Cashore (author of Graceling, Fire, & Bitterblue, all books I adored), Megan Whalen Turner (no idea who this is), and Tamora Pierce (see previous statement above). I was already a little resigned to reading it, and when I read the back, I kind of reacted, "Well this won't be so bad..."


I absolutely despised this book at first. Elisa told us (without really proving it) that she was smart, knew three languages, and was chosen by God. Yeah, whatever Elisa. Tell me another.

I would like to spend a few moments clarifying this Godstone business as it was very confusing at first and doesn't get much better as the book goes on. It is revealed that the Godstone is a blue stone that is in her belly button permanently. Unless she dies, it gets cut out, or she fails in her mission of God. I'm a little confused if there's a difference between if she fails her mission the stone stops doing things or she has to die to fail. There are a lot of things unclear on that. Also, when she prays the stone gets warm and when she attends religious meetings the stone gets all blitzed out happy. When there's danger nearby it gets super cold. It's like a really crappy spider sense. There's also an air of mystery and sorcery around the stone as we learn that Elisa is kept in the dark and also that so little knowledge about Godstone bearers is available. We get random snippets of "so and so was a Godstone bearer, didn't you know?" in very flippant ways. It's tedious and frustrating to read. Also, every monk/religious/holy man has an innate dowsing rod for Godstones that are attached to people. Oh and there's a difference between living Godstones and 'dead' Godstones. I don't know what except the 'dead' Godstones seem to be able to blast people with fire if blood is shed and the living Godstone acts like a spider sense. Also, five is a magic number. I don't know why, it's never explained. It just is.

Now I despised the book at first because Elisa is so unsure of herself and immediately is mush under the husband's attention that she just met. She has these horrible, "I'm a woman, uh...what now?" moments. Like being a woman has rendered her useless. Like being a Godstone bearer is useless. For a while I really wanted to slap her silly and shout, "SUCK IT UP!" Her attitude was atrocious. She would talk like she was helpless, yet she had pulled herself out of a burning carriage, pulled her lady in waiting to safety, and saved her husband's life by killing a man. Yet she still thinks she's helpless. Did I miss something?

Then she starts to seek out information, learns, gets kidnapped, doesn't really mind that she's kidnapped (which still perplexes me, she literally brushes it off with a few vague thoughts that her husband will save her and she wishes she could let her maid/guardian/friend thing know she's okay), and then starts to really show she's smart. She just REALLY lacks confidence. EVERYWHERE. Only as the story progresses does she get a little confident and suddenly she's bursting with confidence. Like someone flipped a switch. She just stops doubting and starts going. She's careful, but no longer helpless. Which was very refreshing after reading her being all, "Woe is me! I need to make a decision! I'm so useless! How do I handle this? How do I handle myself? WAH!" ...about that.

I'm still obscenely reluctant to like the book as it's religion and politics are too tightly woven together for my tastes. It also took me too long to even remotely like Elisa (I'm talking like 3/4 of the way through the book), and really I managed to persevere through the book to the end only because some of the authors I liked like it.

I'm also still struggling with the way Elisa handles her weight and her constant battle with food. I did not like that only as she began to lose weight did she become confident. Only as she began to lose weight, did she feel beautiful. Really don't like that one bit.

There was a nice little blurb from the author at the end of my copy of the book that explains she wanted to portray the struggles of overcoming the prejudice set up by men. But Elise is primarily putting up barriers for herself and everyone else is trying to overcome them.

Also, I still find it disorienting that her husband wanted to be her friend, and never acted on that statement. Not truly. I mean he seemed to throw her a bone of sorts every now and then, but never anything with real conviction.

Also, what was up with Humberto? Seriously, what the heck?

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