Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
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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.
I wanted to love this one as much as everyone else does, I really did, but it ended up really disappointing me for various reasons. Trigger warnings for rape and assault. Representation wise, there’s a f/f romance and the main character is gay.
The first is that I thought the plot was very generic. I’ve read this same story so many times before, and there was nothing new to make it stand out from the hundreds of other YA fantasy books out there. The main character goes from a tiny village to the palace, where she is trained to be a Paper Girl. She then hears of a rebellion, and gets involved with that. From there, you can pretty much guess how the story is going to go. Admittedly, the plot is very fast paced. I flew through it, even though it’s a longish book. But it was simple.
I did really like the main character. I thought she was super feisty and she stuck up for herself and others on so many different occasions. She didn’t have much of a personality aside from that. I mean, I don’t know anything about her likes or interests or hobbies. There probably wasn’t much time for hobbies, but still. Something could have made her stand out a bit more, ya know? She is super gay though, so there’s that.
I didn’t love the romance that developed between the main character and one of the other Paper Girls. It didn’t really develop, it kind of just came out of nowhere with the bare minimum of hints. I get that they were in an intense and stressful situation, and probably found love wherever they could, but there was no real build up or chemistry, which was disappointing. I did like the love interest as a character though. Just not the lack of connection.
This book obviously didn’t blow me away. There’s a lot of stuff to talk about for a three star book, but I’m not sure I’m going to bother reading the sequel because I feel like there are better fantasy books out there.