I think I may have a new favorite author. I love Cashore’s books. My only disappointment is that lately I seem to be falling in love with relatively new authors that only have a couple books out, so I’m always anxiously awaiting the newest book!
Anyhoo, Fire is a prequel / companion to Graceling. It’s set 35 years before Graceling, and in a different land called the Dells (separated from the Seven Kingdoms by a huge mountain range). In the Dells, there are “monster” versions of almost all living things – leopards, raptors, birds, mice, bugs, etc. These monster versions are marked by their bright unusual colors. There are brilliant blue lions, green and gold cats, fuchsia raptors, and so on. The larger animals are also able to control the minds of humans, literally convincing humans to walk to the animals as food. Very interesting…
Fire is a 17-year old monster girl. She has brilliant red, orange, and pink hair and she can control the minds of humans. She’s the last of her kind. She also refrains from using her power, except in the matter of self-defense. She hates being a “monster”, and a lot of humans hate her.
Fire lives relatively peacefully in a small town, until some foggy-minded archers keep trespassing in her area. This eventually leads her to King City, where she’s needed to try to interrogate people thought to be part of a plot to assassinate King Nash. While in King City, she bonds with the king’s brother, Brigan and eventually learns to accept her “monster” half.
Overall, this wasn’t quite as good as Graceling but still pretty darn good. Fire is a complicated character… eventually you get sick of her self-pitying and inner conflict about being a generally despised being. But she does redeem herself in other great ways. Also, there’s not as big of a major adventure-themed plot – the main plot revolves around her learning to love herself, and her budding romance with Brigan. Brigan is a likable guy – he eventually gets over his initial mistrust of Fire, and becomes a real stand-up kind of guy.
ALSO, a bonus of Graceling fans: Leck makes an appearance. I was really psyched about this, because he was a creepy-ass villain in Graceling and I remember wishing that we knew more about him. Well there ya go. Very exciting.
I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads that complained about the abundance of casual sex, illegitimate children, etc in the book. OK first off – nothing is graphic, so don’t worry about that. But let’s remember that this is set wayyyyy back in the day. Women started marrying and having kids at like 14 or 15. And royal families were FULL of adultery, kids out of wedlock, etc. So no, I don’t think this was “too much” for a YA book. It was true to the time period, and it’s not like teenagers these days don’t see all of this everyday anyways. Heck, half of the teenagers today are either having sex, or are the result of illegitimate relations. It’s weird, cause it didn’t even occur to me while reading that this might be an issue, but a LOT of people gave it low reviews because of this. And if you think that your teenager is likely to go out and start having out-of-wedlock babies and casual sex just because it was glossed over in a book, maybe your teenager is the problem, not the book. (Sorry, went on a little rant there…..) It was a non-issue for me. But if you’re a parent and worried about this sort of thing, read the book before you let your kid. Again, there’s nothing graphic or shocking in the book, but I think adults tend to look at these “issues” way more than a kid would ever even notice.
ANYWAYS, if you liked Graceling I don’t doubt that you’ll enjoy this as well. It was really enjoyable, and I cannot wait for Cashore’s next book, Bitterblue, to come out next year!