This is a novel about Elisa, princess who was chosen by God to bear the Godstone for this century. (Literally. A shaft of light hit her cradle and imbedded a gem in her navel.) Because of her destiny and the waves of war that are beginning to hit her country, her father marries her off to a widower king of a neighboring country, and sends her off on her 16th birthday to a whole new world.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a debut novel by Rae Carson, and her inexperience shows most in the erratic pacing of the book. I also have to warn people that it is written in one of the most irritating forms allowed in popular English: first person, present tense. I nearly didn't continue past the first paragraph because of that. But I'm glad that I did, because it was enjoyable time spent. It was an interesting story, with characters who weren't what I thought they would be. To my regret, I have to warn readers that the ending was HORRIBLY rushed, and made a waste out of a lot of the earlier information Carson offered up. (Actually, the ending was reminiscent of Sanderson's Warbreaker for how oddly rushed and weird it was.)
There is a major contemplation that I need to have about Elisa's character. She starts out as fat and unhappy and feeling like a victim of other peoples' actions, and ends up skinnier (not skinny) and strong and wanted and making her own choices. Hrm. I'm not all that pleased with the idea that weight should be related to desireability (though it is often true), nor am I pleased with the implication that Elsa's weight change has a correlation to her power and influence. I don't know where I want to go with this thought, but I'm thinking.
I recommend it to people who enjoyed Princess Ben, Shatterglass, or any other of a half-a-dozen princess/war young adult novels. Unfortunately, the other reason for the Princess Ben similarity is that Princess Elisa is also fat, though she is not being tortured by her mother for it. I also recommend Such a Pretty Face for people who want stories about fat heroines where she doesn't have to get skinny to resolve her troubles.
Why I picked it: This book was reviewed on the Unshelved Friday book reviews on Jan 6th. It sounded so interesting I grabbed it almost immediately.
New-to-me Books for 2012
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.