SheWunders's Reviews > Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore
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's review
May 11, 09

bookshelves: ya-childrens_lit, fantasy, 2009-05, 2009-cybils-finalist
Read in May, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Set across the mountains from the Seven Kingdom in the Dells Kristin Cashore has created another amazing world with another beautiful set of characters. The Dells do not have Gracelings, but they do have “monsters.” Monsters are brightly colored and extremely beautiful versions of their normal counterparts. They have mental abilities that allow them to communicate with and control non-monsters. ( Think bright green mice, pale blue spotted leopards, and beautiful florescent birds.)

Fire is the last remaining human monster. She has flaming pink, red, orange, and gold hair and a face of unparalleled beauty. She lives in the north of the Dells with Archer (her best friend and sometimes lover) and the rest of her adoptive family. Her existence is simple. She teaches music, hunts with Archer, and does her best to stay alive. Fire is hunted by other monsters that would love to eat her and is persecuted by humans who do not understand her.

War is brewing within the Dells. King Nash and his brother, Prince Brigan, are training their army to fight off their encroaching neighbors. Nash recognizes that Fire’s mental capabilities would be an asset to the army and could tip the balance in their favor. Fire reluctantly agrees. Fire becomes an interrogator for the King and helps Nash and Brigan plot to put down the usurpers.

Fire’s very appearance provokes strong emotion. In some it’s hatred and others it’s infatuation. Brigan is completely closed off to her at first, but he is controlled and not unfeeling. Respect and not infatuation change their relationship into something more. They naturally evolve as enemies become allies, as allies become friends, and as friends become lovers.

There’s a lot I’m not telling, because I cannot summarize this book into a decent length. There’s just too much plot, world building, and character development. It’s just too rich to condense properly. I am a huge Graceling fan so there was no question that I’d love Fire. And I do love it as much as Graceling. I love seeing the similarities in worlds and writing, but the difference between the 7 Kingdoms & the Dells is fascinating.

There are themes in Fire that are reminiscent of Graceling – independence, open-mindedness, & freedom. Fire is nothing like Katsa, but she lives by the same standards as Katsa did and Brigan lives by the same standards as Po. That’s what reminds me that they’re in the same world, because if it weren’t for that (and the appearance of Leck - evil jerk) I’d never know it. It’s different, but not different. You should read it and see.

The plot is intricate from beginning to end. Cashore has an excellent way of dragging out the falling climax to tie everything together. She masterfully loops the plot back around to have a very satisfactory resolution. She also knows how to open with the action and the exposition is gradually worked into the rising action in an unobtrusive way. The writing is just damn good.

There is so much right with Fire it’s hard to pick out what’s wrong. If I had to pick out one thing (which I hate doing, but I always do, so I will here) is that the plot seems to have social/political agenda relevant to this day and age. It was also in Graceling, but less obvious. Maybe it’s more obvious in Fire because I was looking for it. I don’t mind, because I totally back her agenda, but I think it will put off some readers. Also, there is a lot of violence towards animals and monster animals. Fire is in no way a happy-feely book, so be prepared.

In conclusion, I loved it. 5 stars. It might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. Bring on the feminist fantasy YA!

PS - For a man’s perspective my husband is currently reading Fire. When he gives his opinion I’ll let you know.

UPDATE 5/11/09 - Chris thinks that Fire has the same "formula" as Graceling and those who enjoyed something ground breaking in Graceling will feel as if it's more of the same in Fire. I tend to agree.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Jane I am SO jealous!

SheWunders I went to the mattresses to win this one off of eBay. Let me tell you - I PAID for it. After 200 pages it's... well... really good... but I'm reserving my total opinion until I finish.

Jane I saw that people were selling the arcs, and I'm a little tempted to purchase one, but I feel like I'll be breaking some sort of librarian/bookseller/writer's code if I do. Oh well, I lose. I'm eagerly awaiting your review!

message 4: by SheWunders (last edited May 06, 2009 06:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

SheWunders Ah, "the code." It seems like the trafficing of ARCs has become a hot topic these days.

I sort of feel guilty about buying ARCs, but 95% of the time I buy the hardcover too. But as a book blogger I never request ARCs from an author or publisher either. I'd feel worse doing that. And I've never sold an ARC.

Review on its way.

Alethea A Hey, why don't you just request? It's cheaper and legit ^_^

Also seething with jealousy... I'm going to find a way to get us an ARC, Jane!

Alethea A Wow, I won't ask how much you paid. The last one on eBay is already over $20! I'm going to write and beg the publicity dept, and/or just wait til it comes out. Or until Alfonso has a miraculous, heroic moment and finds an ARC for Jane ^_^

SheWunders I checked out the current auction for Fire on eBay and I think it will continue to go up and up. Speaking from experience, a***a will bid agressively to the bitter end.

Best of luck to Alfonso!

I know Kristin is signing away ARCs at BEA so if you know a someone that's going maybe they'd grab one for you.

I don't request ARCs because I'm not a librarian/publisher/bookseller/writer and I think book bloggers are getting a really bad rap for ARC-begging. I'd just rather stay out of it. My only fear is that authors could look down on me for buying ARCs, but in all truth I'm just a really big fan who can't wait. And if I like their book I'll be vocal about it. I hope that makes them happy.

Jane I don't blame you E.! =) I actually thought you were a librarian. Are you a full time book blogger? 'cause that's cool.

SheWunders Actually I work full time in Medical Educational Publishing. I'm a Good Reads librarian (for what its worth) and I run a small blog that focuses on YA Lit and other stuff. It's totally a labor of love. Sometimes authors reach out to me (which is super cool), but I do it for myself and my friends who love YA.

I dabble in writing, but lately I've enjoy reading much, much more. I guess I'm waiting for more inspiration or a second wind or something... I dunno.

message 10: by MB (new)

MB They 'should' give you an ARC...because you certainly 'sold' me!

message 11: by Sage (new) - added it

Sage I agree

message 12: by A. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A. I agree with ya! "Bring on the feminist fantasy" (Although it did annoy me at times)

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