Author: Kristen Cashore
Like/Don't Like: Wow! Loved!
This is the second book in the Graceling series, even though it has very little to do with Graceling. It's more of a companion piece than a sequel. It's set in a different land with different people (except for one carry-over character) but it has the same feel. Mostly because, I'm pretty sure that Kristen Cashore is a genius. There is something about her writing style that I really appreciate and respond to. She tells a great story without a lot of fluff. And she thinks you're smart. I've read too many books where the author thinks you're an idiot and you won't pick up on anything so they tell you everything. Cashore does not do that. She expects you to go along for the ride and I love that about her.
First, a brief synopsis. Fire is a human monster, the last of her kind in a land that is filled with other monsters. So there are humans and human monsters, and mice and mice monsters, etc. Her monster powers include having really awesome hair and the ability to connect to other creature's minds. She can reach out and read other's thoughts and insert thoughts of her own. Handy. But it she sees the potential for abuse and tries very hard to not let anyone use it for evil, including herself. She has to come to understand what it means to be a monster and a human, and you know, help save the kingdom. It was a fantastic story.
I was really struck by how womanly it was. Fire isn't just a monster she is also a young woman with all the emotions (she's a big crier. I loved her for it.), problems (periods, cramps, leering eyes), and power (motherhood, sisterhood, intuition, nurturing) that comes with being a woman. I didn't really even pick up on it until about halfway through so it's not so in your face about it. But it deals with being a woman in a very refreshing and honest way.
And Fire is just really great. She's seems like such a real character; she thinks and acts like an 18 year old woman probably would, even with her supernatural abilities.
The story takes a lot of twists and turns and there's a lot of coming and going but it's well worth the effort of keeping up.