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Heartless Lyn @ Great Imaginations

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson Sometimes, I become excited when I am near the end of the book. Even if it is a good story, I am ready to reach the end of the journey. Except for this book.I can say that this is one of the best fantasy stories I have ever purchased. "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" is an epic story inside and out. The MC, Elisa, strays away from the norm of the typical YA teen seen in most fiction today. She is not small, dainty, Anglo or anti-feminine, qualities that most female protagonist seem to share. Elisa breaks the mold and has quickly become a character that I can admire and respect. Carson provides the field with a character that grows and learns how to hold her own without consorting to unseen outer beauty. For the first 3rd of the book, Elisa is a spoiled, mushy princess who tends to pity herself and think little of her own worth. However, she grows in leaps and bounds, gains admirers, loses people, and learns that confidence and self worth trumps beauty any day.This was music to my ears when I completed the book.During the development stage of the novel, I was turned away with the strong religious element of the story. I believe I have already stated my disdain for organized religion, and I had no desire to read a book that promoted a fantasy-based Christian religion. But fear not, Rae Carson handles this literary device with poise and grace. As Elisa develops, her own conflicting view of religion and new found self-based faith can leave the reader to reach their own conclusion about the state of religion (either for or against) in the book. Elisa does not turn away from God after the trials she faces, but she values her faith in her own accomplishments over blind trust in a higher being.I highly applaud Carson for using the love story in her novel to enhance the story. Even other novels that I love tends to places true love above all else. Love is an important element in life, but their are other events and emotions to be explored in fiction. Writing a story centered around finding a hot boy/girl friend in YA tends to come off as insulting and somewhat boring. I am a sucker for a beautiful love story, but I would also enjoy exploring other components and struggles that we all face as humans. "The Girl" pulls strongly from finding one's own worth as the centered theme of the book. This is a lacking quality in the media of today.The flaws a far and few in the story. At times, Elisa seemed emotionally shut off from some deeply traumatic events. The use of food, instead of lack of movement, was the main culprit for Elisa's obesity. People tend to think that fat girls constantly eat, and leave out other important aspects of obesity, such as hormones or lack of exercise, as a huge factor as well. I would highly recommend this book for anyone seeking a novel, and a fantastic female protagonist, that defies the YA cookie-cutter mold