Thursday, January 22, 2015

(A Very Ranty) Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)
Author: Rae Carson
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Genre: Fantasy

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. -Goodreads

1 Star

I have put off this review long enough. It should be telling enough that to this day I preserve a place in my heart that severely abhors this book; it has left that much of an impact on my anger me.

The reason I read this? I wanted to read a high fantasy book that would be reminiscent of Stolen Songbird, a recent favorite of mine, and wanted to relive the experience but in a different book. Actually--screw it--imma go right out and say that the sole reason I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns was because I had bought the second book last year for like $1.99 and I wanted to get this series out of the way.

I didn't expect to love this. But neither did I expect to hate it to this extent.

The first chapter was decent enough. The storyline in itself is not a bad one, but after Elisa leaves the palace, the story goes awry. I hadn't minded the story until then, but once there’s a lot less courtly-stuff and a lot more magical WTFery, I definitely began to mind.

I’ll start with the aforementioned magical WTFery. You know in good fantasy books, like Harry Potter, where the magic does not make a bit of rational sense, I AM LYING HEHEHE MUGGLES but you still understand, because it’s fiction, right? You still understand the fundamentals of the magic, you understand that there are these spells, and they work like this, and whatever? Yeah--no, this book doesn't have that. It’s just some random magic from a magic stone stuck in Elisa’s belly button that just (view spoiler) At these points, I could literally see the author’s hand making adjustments like a chessboard to further the plot (okay, not literally).

Not only did the magic make absolutely no sense--or as much sense as magic could make--the fantasy was terrible. It was as generic as those nasty rip-off Oreos at the grocery store. I should start a new genre called Fake Fantasy, and this would be the first book labeled as thus. You know what? The Girl of Fire and Thorns is to the fantasy genre as Defiance is to dystopia, and if you've read that book (and disliked it) you’d know what I mean.

Then there’s Elisa, my favorite character in all of YA fantasy (heh). Oh, God, she was intolerable. She was not that bad at the beginning of the book, and I feel like some teens would be able to relate to her and even like her on some level. But once I passed that line between palace and desert, she became unbearably annoying and whiny and… skinny! Yes, the girl that I was excited to read about, probably one of the only “fat” girls in YA fantasy, magically turned skinny after a month’s treck in the desert. And somehow all her problems just magically evaporated. Man, I wish I could spend a month in the desert and come back home to all my problems being solved. Wait, life doesn't work like that.

Learn from this, girls: the only way you can get what you want is by losing weight. Lose those love handles, throw away that bag of chips, or else you sure as heck won’t be achieving anything in your life. *sigh*

(Sidenote: I’m genuinely curious what the author was trying to do with this? How could someone not be offended by this? Not that I think that fiction should be censored, but truly, there had to have been a reason behind this blatant issue that I’m missing.)

The rest of the characters? Nothing too significant about any of them. I mean, screw characterization, right? In all seriousness, though, the characters were very minimally developed. I began to categorize characters based on whether or not they liked Elisa, because that’s as deep a description as they got. If you like character-based novels, or even if you expect more characterization than the superficial, then you’re in for a big disappointment.

The romance was, in one very long word (?): blehhhhhhhh. That’s all I’m going to say as I’ll probably spoil approximately the entire book if I let myself go on this diatribe.

The plot: just kept going on. And on. And on. To nowhere. Absolutely nothing happened along the way. This was one very long book, and for a book this long, I’d expect more than never-ending walks. Heck, I’m pretty sure the plot was lost along the way of one of Elisa’s never-ending treads. Where’d ya go, plot?

While I’m at it, I’ll tick off the other boxes: Worldbuilding? Nonexistent. Writing? Mediocre. Pacing? LOL.

The only people I’d recommend this to are for those with very, very low standards for young adult fantasy, and even then, I’d warn them of the oncoming disaster.



  1. Yeah, I think I'll give this one a miss. To be honest the synopsis had already put me off so your review didn't exactly help things. I can really understand your frustration with the magic system. While magic isn't real, it should be the goal of any good fantasy writer to make us believe that it is real. Take, for example, Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy. I don't know whether you've read this series (if not I would highly recommend it). The magic system in this series is so detailed, so intricate and makes so much sense that there is a point in the series where you subconsciously begin to believe that it's real. Magic doesn't just exist to get characters out of sticky situations and it feels fundamentally real.

    The thing about the protagonist randomly becoming skinny is really strange. Like you said, what was the author thinking? We live in an age where people are constantly being told to stop shaming others because of their bodies, and then she basically went and did exactly that. Does she have a brain?

    In any case, recently I've tended to avoid books that have 'Chosen One' in the blurb, because very few books based around that concept are interesting or original. Great review by the way! As a big fan of fantasy (mostly adult fantasy, but never mind) I can really understand a lot of the issues you had with this.


  2. No, I haven't read Mistborn yet, but it sounds amazing and I'll be sure to get onto that. That is so true that "Chosen One" books are usually not very unique, with the exception of probably Harry Potter.

    Thank you for the insightful comment, and sorry for responding so late! :/