Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Recommendation: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

I didn't read The Girl of Fire and Thorns because I expected to like it. I read it because it was on my list of books that are relevant to The Temple Well. There are a lot of elements of this book that are similar to the one I'm writing, and I wanted to see how another author dealt with certain subject matter, such as the "Chosen One" trope and religion-centered world building.

And while I was curious to read it, it wasn't exactly a good curiosity. I don't have to tell you how cliche the "Chosen One" trope is. And as for those "girl learns to believe in herself" books? *pauses to yawn*

So I was really surprised when this one turned out to be good.

The descriptions are incredibly vivid, and the plot has the perfect balance of slow introspection and constant action. Certain elements of the plot could even be considered brave, at least by YA standards. (Don't throw things at me, please.) The world building is both unique and thorough. And Elisa is a very well-developed protagonist.

There were some parts of the story that bothered me. Many of the secondary characters, especially the villains, could have been better fleshed out. There were also instances were story elements felt too convenient. And as for the whole "Chosen One" element? It was handled well in terms of Elisa's development, but I do take issue with the fact that so much of the plot was controlled by "destiny." It seems kind of shallow for God to put so much effort into intervening in one war, especially since it reinforces the idea that the other side is inherently evil. (It's one thing if all the characters and all the readers see you as a villain. It's another matter entirely when you bring Divine Intervention into it.)

Now I'm sure that sometime in the distant future, when The Temple Well actually sees the light of publication and people are digging up torn copies that have survived the alien invasion, because let's face it, there is a greater chance of the alien invasion happening than of me actually finishing a book, someone will look back on this and call me a hypocrite. And I would like those people to know that I am choosing to ignore them.

Anyway, the sequel to this book is coming out in September, and I am really excited to read it.


ETA: My review of The Crown of Embers.

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