Fire (Kristin Cashore)

Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #2) Fire by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: "Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.

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."

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much when I started this book. After Graceling I was dying for more of Katsa and Po, and when I heard that Fire was a companion piece rather than a straight prequel, I was disappointed. I was also disappointed to hear that a certain deranged king would be a character in Fire, mostly because he totally squicked me out in the last book.

(Almost) needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Though it took me a few moments to shake off my disappointment that Katsa would not be appearing, I ended up really getting into Fire's story. I hesitate to say that I liked Fire more than Graceling, though. I found Fire's character to be more sympathetic than Katsa's; however, I was not fond of the fact that Cashore chose to make Fire ridiculously, overwhelmingly beautiful. Honestly, I didn't see the point. I would have liked it better if she had been ordinarily beautiful and the only thing drawing people toward her was her ability to manipulate thoughts.

I also found the world building slightly lacking, specifically the concept of the "monsters". Maybe I read the book too fast, but I never really got what exactly made Fire a monster in the first place. (Her father, obviously, was a monster, but I wanted to know the origin of these human-like monsters.) Ditto for the rest of the monster-creatures, the monster bugs, the raptor monsters... The big, unanswered question I had was: what makes something a monster? How exactly are they different from non-monsters? This, I thought, could have used clearing up.

Otherwise, I loved Fire. Reading back, it seems like I've been talking mostly about my complaints of the book... But I did really enjoy the book. I enjoyed the characters, especially (surprisingly) Leck's cameo, and thought Hanna was lovely. And the dog! Blotchy!

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