Girls Of Paper And Fire – Book Review
Updated: May 25, 2019
As someone trying to break into the world of YA fantasy, I regularly check the NY Times Bestseller list for YA Hardcover to see what is new and popular. And that’s were I was introduced to Girls Of Paper And Fire* by Natasha Ngan. This beautiful fantasy did a wonderful job promoting diversity with LGBTQ+ and Asian characters (well, Asian-inspired, since the world was a fantasy setting).
Here’s the GoodReads description:
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.
But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
TW: violence and sexual abuse.
Overall, I enjoyed book and will be checking out the sequel when it’s available (there is one in the works according to GoodReads). It is wonderful to see more diversity in YA fantasy and I’m always ready to see a heroine learn to find her inner strength. However, as the listing for this book points out, there is violence and sexual assault, so I wouldn’t recommend this novel for very young readers. I believe the bestseller list had its suggested age range of 15-17. There were times I was uncomfortable by the violence and especially by the sexual assault, but it felt critical to the story, not simply thrown in for shock value. And unlike the books (or movies) that only use such elements for shock, Girls Of Paper And Fire really does a good job of exploring what the consequences are of such assault.
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