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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Fire

Title: Fire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Page Count: 461 pages
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult?
This copy of this book came from the public library.

50 words or less: Impossible. Believe the hype.

**note: I wrote this review right after I finished the book, so if there are spoilers included I apologize. You've officially been warned.***

I have been excited about Fire pretty much since I read Graceling last spring and learned about its release. I'm happy to say that Fire met and exceeded all of my expectations. It's probably one of my top ten books for the year so far, which is definitely saying something.

Describing what Fire is about is incredibly difficult, as there are so many elements, characters and themes that it's hard to figure out an order for things that makes sense for people who haven't read the book. With that said, here's what Goodreads had to say on the subject:
Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.

Wondering what makes it a companion book/prequel? Fire takes place 30-some years before Graceling and has one cross-over character with Graceling, a small boy with strange two-colored eyes who comes from no-one-knows-where, and who has a peculiar ability that Graceling readers will find familiar and disturbing...
That description is just a drop in the bucket of what happens as Fire unfolds. The characters are lush and well-drawn, with realistic strengths and just as realistic failings, the romance blossoms at just the right pace to be intriguing without being boring, and the politics and war games held my interest from the first page to the last.

There are plenty of themes running through the book; you could approach this book from probably hundreds of different angles and take something different away from it after each encounter. Platonic love vs. romantic love, sins of the father and whether or not they truly visit upon the son, heroism, sexual responsibility, responsibility in general, pregnancy, relationships, gossip; you name it, it's in here somewhere.

My favorite incidental thing about the book was easily the descriptions of the monsters, which were like surrealistic paintings of familiar animals and things, but with very different implications for people. Monster kittens? Awesome.

I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book. If you have any interest at all in the premise or the hype surrounding the book I definitely recommend getting a copy and reading it. I actually read this one slowly because I didn't want it to end. It could have been twice as long and I think I still would have enjoyed it as much as I did in its actual form.

Overall Grade: A+

I found this widget over at The Compulsive Reader and it's easily my favorite Fire widget so far. Have fun!

Up next will be Vampires by Joules Taylor. I'm feeling the need to completely switch gears for this next book in order to keep myself balanced. After that will come Werewolves by Jon Izzard and Intertwined by Gena Showalter.


Terra said...

I have been seeing both Graceling and Fire around. Your review makes me very tempted to read them! Thanks for the review.

Emily said...

@Terra I am completely in love with Kristin Cashore's books and highly recommend them to anyone- give them a try!

ariana said...

I have to say that I found Graceling rather engrossing but Fire difficult to finish. Sure I finished with the speed I usually do for other books, but Fire simply did not hold my interest. Cashore failed to cover parts which I found should have been in more detail such as Leck's role in the story. It was cut down so much more than I had initally expected. My biggest problem was Fire - but maybe that's because I prefer stronger female characters, physically and emotionally. She cried so much that I found myself bored of her tears.

Life After Jane said...

I loved this book and Graceling. Cashore is a remarkably gifted storyteller. I suspect that Bitterblue will be equally as amazing.

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