Fire by Kristen Cashore
Published: October 5th 2009 by Gollancz
Series: prequel to Graceling
Source: library audiobook
My Grade: C+
Synopsis from GoodReads.com: Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
I decided to read/listen to the audio book Fire because I unexpectedly enjoyed Cashore's first book, Graceling, and Fire is the prequel to that. However, I sadly did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would, mainly because I felt there was no emotional resonance, which is what I so enjoyed in Graceling. There were so many characters to keep track of and so many different couplings and love lives, agendas, and motivations that ruled each character, it was hard to connect with any of them. While Fire was clearly the protagonist, I still did not feel like I could connect with her or any of the characters enough to really really care about them the way I cared about Katsa and Po from Graceling. Even Fire's and Brigan's unlikely love story did not pull me in the way I expected it to. I could have gone either way where that relationship was concerned, and as the reader I should have much stronger feelings about it. Yet, the book was not based around relationships but larger events such as the war between King Nash and the rebel Lords Mydogg and Gentian. But that is no excuse. The characters and the relationships between the characters should be just as well developed as the plot.
Here are my main pet-peeves with this book:
There's no central story thread. Fire goes here then there and helps with war strategy but you don't get the sense that the book is really about anything until you're halfway through. There was way too much set up as well, where she explained the history of the princes' and current king's father and Fire's father, who are both dead. Cashore invested alot of her story in Fire's father, Cansrel, describing his personalty, his views, his traits - and this is a character who is dead before the book even begins. I understand why Cashore wanted all that back-story since it informs Fire's views and decisions, but we didn't need quite so much of it to understand its purpose.
I hate writing reviews that sound so harsh. But that's just my honest opinion of the book! It wasn't a bad book by any means but it just wasn't something I greatly enjoyed either.
Find it on Amazon: Fire
Visit the author's website: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/