Sequels or prequels have never been my favorite thing because they are always bound to disappoint in some way or other. They may not follow the same characters or just in general, may not live up to the awesomeness of it's predecessor. Which is always disappointing. When I got a hold of Graceling earlier this year, I was in complete love - Katsa and Po's story was amazing and as soon as I heard a prequel was in the works, I agonized over Kristin Cashore's ability to top or even equal it. After tearing through Fire, however, I can tell you she has reinvented the standard for sequels. Turned it on it's head. Made me so completely fall in love with Fire and the Dells that I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying: Bring on the sequels Kristin Cashore, because I will read simply anything you publish now. ANYTHING.
All Fire's life she has wanted nothing more than to not become the monster her father Cansrel was. But in the Dells, monsters are a part of everyday life: brightly colored monster raptors, monster cats, and even monster bugs attract humans with their unique scales or fur and by using their mind to force their will on others. Fire is the last living human monster, a young girl with hair like fire and a face that can make others fall at her feet in rapture or fear or simply make them want to kill her. She's lived in an isolated portion of the country next to her childhood friend Archer for her entire life, trying to use her mental capacities for good rather than evil. See, she's had to work hard to destroy more than a few misconceptions about monsters since her father (a deranged, pleasure-seeking monster) had wrecked havoc as the King's twister adviser - eventually leading the the King's death and the region's current state of unrest. Even though Fire couldn't be more different from her father, she's developed an overactive conscience and has worked extra hard to keep her abilities in check. But as war looms closer and closer for the Dells, Fire is sought out for her mental abilities by King Nash and his brother, Brigand. Agreeing to help these men may be the most taxing thing she's ever done seeing as nobody in the King's City want to trust her and everyone is harboring more than a little fear, desire, and hatred for her alone.
What killed me most of all reading this book had to be the depth and complexity of emotions. Nothing surface here. Fire's desires and hopes are all firmly rooted in her past and each is clearly thought through, leaving me with a sense of knowing Fire as if I'd grown up next door to her and Archer. On top of this brilliant display of complicated feelings has to be the exquisitely slow development of relationships and events. Ms. Cashore knows how to take her time. No forced encounters, no rushed big reveals, just a slow and steady buildup until such a solid foundation is in place that when you finally uncover the truth, so many little details click into perfect place. I seriously could not put Fire down and if I wasn't reading it, all I could think about was when I'd get to read it next. It was the perfect combination of action, love (all types), and the desire to make things right in times of war and heartache - establishing itself as one of the best books I've read this year.
series reading order:
~ Graceling - my review
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Smugglers review
Bookworming in the 21st Century review
Steph Su Reads review
TV and Book Addict review