by Kristin Cashore
Rating: 5 stars; PG-13
Summary: In the Dells, which is not part of the Seven Kingdoms where Graceling takes place, dwell monsters. They look like ordinary animals: a horse, a dog, a bird, but they are brightly colored, very beautiful, can read and influence thoughts, and crave human flesh. Fire is the last of those monsters born looking like a human. While she is growing up, the Dells is falling further and further into ruin, and when the book picks up, it's right on the brink of war. Fire must decide between denying the monster within her, and trying to save the kingdom.
Opinions: Cashore's Graceling was my favorite book of last year (read, not released), and although it's rather early to call it, it looks as though Fire might be this year's top pick. Aside from the intriguing writing, any book that a) makes me cry several times and b) throw the book down in shock, is going to be a good book. Like Graceling, Fire had a good plot and excellent characters. Fire's (the character, not the book) struggle with her humanity (no pun intended) was really moving and had me in tears (or close to it) at least five times during the course of the book.
I have to hand it to Cashore for writing a book about a war that is about so much more than the battles. A lot of the book was the interaction between all the characters, and only a surprisingly small bit focused on actual fighting. That does not mean the book was boring, far from it (of course, you say, I rated it a 5!). Cashore managed to convey all the emotional tension of war even through the perspective of those more behind the scenes. Cashore truly writes believable characters that are completely real and flawed. Not a single character was completely perfect, which made them all the more compelling.
I rated this book a five because I was so completely blow away by it. It had that “wow-factor” that I look for in a book. The kind that has me telling myself I should not cry in front of the small children I babysit because I don't want to scare them. I gave it a PG-13 because there's some violence and some sexual content, but really all of that was very light. I don't recall any profanity, although that doesn't mean there wasn't any. For me, Kristin Cashore is 2 for 2, and I can't wait until her next book comes out.