2010 YALRC, Book 1: Fire, by Kristin Cashore

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve entered a YA Lit Reading Challenge for 2010. My goal is to read 25 YA Lit books over the course of the year. I’m hoping I surpass that goal, but we’ll see.

In any case, my first selection this year was Fire, by Kristin Cashore. It’s a companion book to her earlier book, Graceling. Since I loved Graceling, I thought this would be a good choice.

The events in Fire take place (by my best guess) approximately 25-30 years prior to the events in Graceling. It is set in a place called the Dells, which is an area that is shrouded in mystery to the people living in the Seven Kingdoms (where Graceling took place). There is one common character in the two books (the nefarious Graceling Leck), but otherwise, we get a whole new slate of characters.

Fire, the main character, is considered a “monster” by the people of the Dells. Known by their ostentatious coloring (Fire’s name came from how her hair is colored – I kept imagining Hayley Williams’ hair when reading), monsters are variants of normal humans and animals that have a taste for human flesh and telepathic abilities that help them lure in their prey. Naturally, most of the people she encounters are terrified of her. However, Fire is somewhat repulsed by what she is and is determined not to give in to her more natural (and slightly evil) inclinations.

Eventually, Fire is summoned to the court of King Nash in order to use her abilities to help thwart a coming war between those loyal to him and those loyal to two opposing lords in the Dells. This leads to an internal struggle on her part, since she has vowed never to use her abilities, because the only other human monster she knew (her father) never used his abilities for good. I won’t give away what happens, but let’s just say lots of action, lots of intrigue, and lots of romance follow.

In the end, it was a very enjoyable read. I like Cashore’s writing style, because although these books are written for those from the 14-16 year old range, it never seems like she’s “writing down” to that reading level. I do think I liked Graceling more, but that’s because I think I liked the characters better in that book. Katsa was such a strong female lead character that I think she’s a hard act to follow. Fire is strong in her own right, but she just seemed to need rescuing a bit too often for my taste (I call it the Bella Swan Syndrome).

I would recommend Fire for those who are looking for a good modern fantasy novel in the 15-17 year old range.

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