She is the last of her kind...
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.
Somewhere into the 150th page of Fire, I began to get restless. Not in the anxious I-HAVE-TO-KNOW-WHAT-HAPPENS-NEXT-OR-I'LL-DIE good way, more like in the meh-how-much-longer-until-the-end-way.
Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed Fire: it was certainly a good read. It just sort of....dragged a bit in the middle. And towards the beginning. And at the end. Which is something I was utterly unprepared for, given the fast-paced, chock-filled with action prequel of this book, Graceling. Graceling was a wonderful read. I thought Graceling was in the style of Tamora Pierce's books; a well-written, entertaining fantasy with extraordinary world-building, solid characters, and a fast-paced plot. Fire is along these same lines, and I was overjoyed that Cashore had come out with a new book.
However, if it's Katsa vs. Fire, Katsa certainly wins over. Fire, although complicated and internally conflicted, is just not my kind of gal. She's too perfect. The very essence of her characterization is perfectness: perfect body, perfect face, perfect voice, perfect motives, perfect everything--I get that's a key trait, but still. I don't like perfect characters. As a matter-of-fact, I hate them.
I know Fire's supposed to be perfect. But I just can't stomach that much talent and intelligence and compassion and BEAUTY in one person. If Fire was a real person, I'd want to smack her. Of course, I wouldn't be able to because then I'd mar the perfect beauty of her perfect face framed by her brilliant fire-red hair and irresistible eyes that melts a man in his tracks and causes him to go nuts and froth at the mouth while gibbering and riot and break her beloved fiddle and hit her in the cheek with a ring and treat her badly and follow her to the ends of the earth and want to kidnap her and yada yada yada (whilst Fire is busy restraining herself from using her extraordinary mind-powers because she's afraid she'll do evil, petting silky puppies, and babysitting young children).
Gosh. Who knew one girl could cause all of that by merely existing?
Fire reminds me of Edward--they both are wonderfully attractive (at least the author tells me so constantly) and Helen of Troy (the whole kidnapping thing because she's so darn irresistible) and Snow White (cuddly animals flock to her). I'm sure other readers will LOVE reading about her perfectly perfectedness, her incredible magical gift, her breathtaking fiddle playing, her penchant for saving people's lives, etc etc etc [insert more improbable perfect abilities/traits here].
FIRE, LIVE A LITTLE! Go take over somebody's mind because it's fun! Or do something dastardly with all that power! I just can't relate to her innocent, saintly behavior. That's it: Fire is a saint. Or perhaps a goddess. Certainly not a 17-year old girl that I would want to be friends with or talk to.
I think I'm being rather too harsh though--I'm chewing this book out even though it's a pretty good read. I did enjoy it, most of all the world building. Love the monsters and the descriptions of them--blue bunnies and raptors and shimmering monsters that want to eat Fire except...she eats them first. In addition, everything was wonderfully thought out. The world was so real and the military descriptions were utterly convincing. The love triangle was mildly interesting: I like who Fire ended up with, since the other guy was pretty unattractive. And I liked the minor characters as well as the flashbacks Fire had of her father. Also, I did enjoy the intricate politics and warfare going on--it lent another dimension to the story. Overall, Fire was well-written with good dialogue and even better descriptions. I was sucked into Fire's world entirely.
Since Graceling was so good, I had rather high expectations for Fire. I thought it'd be one of the best books I've read in a while. Which is a bit unfair, I'll have to admit. Don't get me wrong: I really liked this book. But it just didn't live up to a Graceling. If you liked Graceling, you definitely shouldn't miss out on this one--you may even like it more than Graceling, who knows? Maybe I was just crabby the day I read this. I think I'll reread it later down the line and see if I can relate to Fire more. But I can't help wishing that this book had been the sequel to Graceling--I'm longing for more Katsa and Po. *sigh*
I give it a 7.5-8/10
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