Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)
by Rae Carson (Goodreads Author)Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy and useless and fat. On her sixteenth birthday, she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much-older-and extremely beautiful-husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone. As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court maneuvers to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that, not only is her own life in danger, the whole world needs saving. But how can a young girl who has never ridden horseback, never played the game of politics, and never attained the love of a man save the world? Elisa can't be sure, but she must try to uncover the Godstone's secret history before the enemy steals the destiny nestled in her core.
My Review: 6/10
I found the parallels to Christianity an interesting premise for the story, but it often felt like a cheap imitation.
I liked that the protagonist was not your standard, cliched princess. Though I found her eating disorder/food obsession to range from annoying to disturbing, I also thought it added a layer of authenticity to her character. I was happy when it faded to a soft background hum.
The violence and deaths of some key characters surprised me, because YA novels don't usually allow that element of reality, at least not until the very end. Some of those scenes were a little graphic for my taste.
But the thing that bothered me the most was the promotion of cheating. I don't believe in divorce, and I don't believe in justifying seeking out another relationship while you are married.
I don't care that they didn't consummate the marriage yet, that he likely had a mistress before they married, or that they had spent very little time together before she was taken away. She pledged herself before God to this man for her life. If she wanted to seek an annulment or divorce based on grounds of his prior relationship, then fine, but she shouldn't be starting anything until that is settled. It ended up being a moot point anyway, because of how the storyline progressed, but it struck me forcibly that this kind of attitude promotes cheating and divorce, breaking up marriages and families. A young girl reading this book takes away that her feelings and love and happiness matter more than anything or anyone else, that she can't help how she feels, and that she should pursue someone she loves at any cost. Not only are all of these statements false, but they lead to destruction. These ideas are all too common in YA novels, but it was made worse by its strong association to the pseudo-christianity themes.