Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fire - Kristen Cashore

This book is a sequel to Kristin Cashore's best-selling YA novel, Graceling. You can read our reviews of the first book here and here.

Summary: It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was. (Image from and summary from back of the book.)

Kari's Review: Fire is a fascinating character. Being described as a monster--half human and half monster--the mix of being drawn to something so horrible and yet so beautiful is an interesting theme in itself. I'm sure you could have many conversations regarding the reality of human nature's desire for external beauty and being willing to compromise for the beauty despite a demon within. She has a way of loving characters who are difficult to want to love, a gentleness that endears her to everyone, including the reader.

There were so many aspects to this book that could stimulate great discussion. Love, internal struggle, vice, fidelity vs. adultery, using your talents and gifts for good, needing to do something terrible to accomplish a greater good, the problem of men self-indulging to the point of hurting others, abuse--specifically sexual abuse, gender roles and inequalities, the list goes on and on. For these aspects, the fluid writing style, and the entrancing world Cashore creates, I couldn't put the book down.

Sometimes I'm amazed what they categorize as Young Adult literature though. This falls in that category for me, because I wouldn't want my child reading this until she or he is an adult. Casual sex isn't something I want my kids thinking I condone at their age. It does talk about the repercussions of sex, and while realistic, I still don't know if it portrays the message I'd want my child hearing.

That aside, I truly enjoy Cashore's writing style. It's devour-able. She creates the most fascinating worlds with believable characters. I enjoy the themes and food for thought about human flaws. A couple points in time Fire seemed a bit too helpless or pitiful--I guess it's realistic, but was a little annoying. At times Fire's internal struggles to understand her world, her place in it, and the flaws of the people she loves, paralyze her. It almost--just almost--felt overdone.

I'd have given it five stars if it didn't have the promiscuous sexual message.

Her Rating: 4 Stars

Sum it up: Delicious reading that follows the same vein Cashore's first book started dealing with humanity's vices.

Kim's Review: I read Graceling and Fire back to back. I really enjoyed Graceling.....but I absolutely LOVED Fire. Romance, war, beautiful creatures, evil children, flesh eating Raptors, where do you begin? The adventure through the eyes of Fire was at times heartbreaking, but invigorating as well.

I still cannot completely understand what about this book held me so captive, but I found the 'monsters' concept so beautiful. As with Graceling, I liked the time period Cashore chose, which fit the characters perfectly. I loved the colors that brought all the monsters to life, the good and the bad. You'll have to pick it up to understand...but I won't ruin such a great book with any spoilers.

So much more I want to write, but every thing I want to put down would be better enjoyed by the reader getting it straight from the source. I don't want to give away any of the intricacies of the plot...

However, there is one final thing I have to add. This book is sold as young adult fiction. I would say that I MIGHT let my 16 year old read it. There are a lot of adult themes in the book, a lot of promiscuity, mild language, a lot of talk about female....things. That is, not to mention, a good amount of violence. So, just a fair warning.

Her Rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up: It is always great when an authors second novel blows the first out of the water.

Average Rating : 4.5 Stars



Mary Gray said...

I haven't read Fire yet so thank you for these great reviews!! I loved Graceling but had the same issue with the YA sex.

Kari, I liked your insight about many of us being drawn to greatness despite possible demons. I explore this in my current work in progress. It really is an interesting element to explore.

Kim, you're convincing me that I'll love this book. I love the power from some strong violence and every book needs a heavy dosage of romance too. :)

Unknown said...

I do absolutely think this is a young adult novel - but of course this isn't going to be a novel for every single young adult. It doesn't portray the same values I grew up with, but thanks to the education my parents gave me I had (and have) enough grounding in my beliefs that it was never a problem for me to read something that countered them. If your parental teachings can be overturned by a single book, then maybe you aren't teaching your children well.

And talk of female "things" shouldn't scare away a 16 year old (well, not a 16 year old girl at least). She's probably been dealing with these "things" (menstruation) for several years by 16, so it's not like it's a foreign concept.

Sweet Em said...

I love when blog readers comment on the reviews. (Even if I didn't write them). Thanks ladies!


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