Hi! It’s Annie!
I’ve mentioned this book a couple times before pretty briefly in some book compilation posts that I’ve done. And part of the reason why I’ve mentioned it, is because this has to be one of my favorite books of all time. I seriously have no idea how I have not made a full post about it before. For all the other book lovers out there; do you have a book that gets you back into reading? I can’t always focus on reading because of my attention span, so I usually go in cycles where I’m sometimes reading and sometimes not. And when I want to get back into reading, re-reading ‘Fire’ is usually what helps me when I’m feeling unmotivated. The book moves at a pretty fast pace and has so many moments in it that I love so much, that I always feel motivated to go back and revisit them. Because it usually helps me through my reading slumps, I can definitely say that it holds a special place in my heart. So, without further ado, I am going to really get into why I love this so much and give you a full book review including in depth character analysis. Because character analysis is always my favorite. But be warned, this post will have MAJOR SPOILERS. If you haven’t read this book, go read it. It’s one of my favorites for a reason. Please remember that this is a romance. It is a romance with a couple twists, but I’ll get to that in a second.
Summary: In a fantasy world where monsters are brightly colored animals that are extremely deadly and essentially hypnotize their prey, you wouldn’t expect a human to be one. Fire is named so based off of her brightly colored hair that looks like actual fire, and is the last of the only line of monster-humans. After being mysteriously targeted, Fire finds herself thrust in the middle of a war. If she helps she betrays all of her morals, but if she does not she might just lose everything that’s important to her. But how can she help a Captain who seemingly hates her guts without her having to say a word?
In fantasy books like this, I usually prefer a protagonist that kicks ass. Because usually, especially in a YA romance, if the protagonist doesn’t kick ass that means she’s pretty weak and demure. Now, do I have to see every female character kick ass for me to consider them strong? Absolutely not. I’ve said a few times that whenever I play RPGs, I usually play a healer. I don’t hit anything or hurt anything and I feel like a badass just by helping my team. Before this book, it never occurred to me that a healer in a fantasy setting could be a protagonist and not also portrayed as being pretty useless. For the most part, Fire is a pacifist. A trait that is not often seen in protagonists of any book. She knows she has the powers to be the secret weapon to either side of the war, but she doesn’t want to do that. And, surprise, her powers have nothing to do with fighting techniques. They more have to do with hypnotism, persuasion, and mind-reading. Specifically for getting information out of people. She can also use her powers to soothe, which she eventually finds the most joy doing and often uses this ability to help wounded soldiers. A healer, finally! And the book never treats her as weak or somehow other for choosing not to fight. In fact, she saves a garrison full of men by just being a decoy. I loved that she didn’t have to fight to be able to save lives and she always got herself out of tough situations anyways. She still didn’t need to be saved. Because not every strong woman has to actually kick ass to be strong.
The Love Interest:
Brigan is one of my favorite parts of the book and also one of my favorite love interests in anything ever. The book never focuses on how handsome he ‘s supposed to be, in fact the book describes him as looking fairly plain. Because handsomeness is not what really matters here. Brigan is kind. And it’s actually three kindnesses that he shows Fire that eventually lead up to them becoming friends. I really loved the focus on these three kindnesses, namely because they weren’t anything that were supposed to be super attractive. I find with a lot of YA boyfriends, there’s a lot of focus placed on how a love interest looks, and how they look fighting, and how they look when they take off their shirt etc. etc…. That’s all well and good, but none of that makes me actually like a love interest in anything. What makes Brigan attractive is the fact that he is the first in a line of generals to allow women to join the army, how he’s kind but stern with his soldiers, how he has an almost childlike interest in horses, how he’s an attentive father to a child he had when he was rather young, and how he sends Fire a fiddle when hers breaks. This is the type of cute romance stuff I want to see in books! I want to see love interests who are reliable and heartfelt and thoughtful and not just good looking.
This is, admittedly, the main point of the book. Both of the other main books in the ‘Graceling’ series are more adventurous. Usually, I’m not into purely romantic YA. I usually prefer the adventure to the romance. But, this is definitely an exception because this was done so unarguably well. Again, I tend to find that a lot of YA romance is based on some sort of physicality or there has to be outright in-your-face passion for there to be passion at all. Here is your fair warning for this book; it is kind of a slow burn. I like it though and it doesn’t leave you hanging for too long. The point here is for the characters to go from hating each other to trusting each other with their lives before they get to the love bit. When you do eventually get to the actual romantic parts of the story, they often show they love each other more by supporting each other than anything else. It’s something that escalates into a feeling of being by someone else’s side no matter what because they can’t imagine being anywhere else. I have a quote that I absolutely love from this book that makes me melt every time and I’m going to include it here so you can see exactly what I mean. This is something that I’ll often flip to, even if I’m not in the middle of reading the book.
“Brigan was saying her name, and he was sending her a feeling. It was courage and strength, and something else too, as if he were standing with her, as if he’d taken her within himself, letting her rest her entire body for a moment on his backbone, her mind in his mind, her heart in the fire of his. The fire of Brigan’s heart was astounding. Fire understood, and almost could not believe, that the feeling he was sending her was love.”
If that’s not the best way a character has ever confessed to another character in a book, I have no idea what is. I almost legitimately teared up the first time reading this, because of this description of love that so obviously focused on support. Thank you Kristin Cashore. My standards just shot up even higher than they were before. If you were looking for a lot of make-out sessions, you won’t find them here. But if you’re looking for an amazingly healthy relationship, this book has got you covered.
If you’re still looking for adventure, this book has that too. I will admit to you all that there is a chapter of this book that isn’t necessarily bad, but I usually skip it in my rereads. It involves Fire getting kidnapped, a character that I don’t really like as much dying, and then Fire escaping. The reason why I skip it is because the main function of this chapter is to connect it to the other books. I prefer just viewing the story as it is as a standalone, so I usually don’t read it. But it’s still a good chapter to read the first time around! This book takes place in the middle of a war, so there’s plenty of adventuring to different places, helping out other people, and fighting in general. I probably would not have read this book if it was just a romance. I promise the adventure doesn’t disappoint! Especially because Cashore is just so good at her world building. You really do feel like you’re at home with Brocker (Fire’s father figure) or walking through the splendors of the palace with Fire. It’s just as immersive as it is anything else, which is always one of the most important things to me in any fantasy novel.
I think I’ve gushed about this book enough. Just go read it if you haven’t! And yes, this book will make you feel unbearably single if you are. It certainly does have that effect on me every time I read it! (I’m ok. Am I ok?) But I will challenge you not to fall in love with the world building and the main characters as well. Fire and Brigan are just as amazing as individual characters as they are together as a couple, rest assured. It was a crime for me not to have talked about perhaps the healthiest fictional couple I have ever encountered before! I really hope this inspired you to read one of my favorite books of all time, and I sincerely hope you love it just as much as I do!
See you across the pond!