I’m not usually prone to jump on really popular books because I’ve quite often been underwhelmed by them. Girls of Paper and Fire was in my November OwlCrate box so I decided to give it a go. It turned out that this was a book that I couldn’t put down. I was pleasantly surprised by all that this book had to offer.
Girls of Paper and Fire
“Even that which seems impossible at first can be overcome by strength of mind and heart.”
**Just a little warning to those who might be sensitive to certain themes in books. This has instances of sexual abuse/rape in it. Although not explained in detail, the reader is aware of it happening.**
In the world of Ikhara, humans and non-humans (demons) live in a contentious environment ruled by a demon King. Lei is in a villiage that prefers not to interfere too much with politics and hopefully stays out of the King’s notice. However, when Lei’s mother is taken forcibly from her home, the unfortunate village must come to terms with all that is around them. After that event, Lei’s life becomes routine again until it’s her unlucky fate to be taken by the King’s General.
There’s so much world building in this book with interesting characters. The demons are actually human/animal hybrids. Ox/human, bear/human, bird/human, etc. They, of course are the higher caste. Lei, being human, is on the lowest level and treated horribly. They are called paper skin because of their vulnerability and thin skin. Lei really has two things to look forward to, finding her mother and finding out what her word is. Or in other words her birth-blessing. Everyone gets one at birth and it determines the fate of the person wearing it. Their word is revealed on their 18th birthday.
It’s this birth-blessing that carries Lei through after her abduction and forced into the harem of the King. With 8 other paper girls, Lei lives in fear for the time that she gets called to be with the King. It really is such a nail biting and heart wrenching story. Natasha Ngan has such a way with words that it flows really easily. Despite such a vast world, with politics and rules, it really was not overwhelming. It’s really easy to get caught up with the everyday struggles of Lei. It was amazing to read about Lei’s growth throughout. How it really was just about her when she first arrived at the palace and how it took love to make her open her eyes and really figure out what was going on around her.
While the ordeals of all the girls was horrible and the King a total douche of a character, I loved the friendships that were forged and Lei’s forbidden love. Her tenacity to fight back and her ability to fiercely protect those she cares about make the climax of this book even more amazing.
I have to say Lei’s and Wren’s love is the sweetest love story that I have ever read. I love those two girls and I can’t wait to see what the next book in the series brings them. The story sort of ends in a cliff hanger, but not one that I’m mad at really. I’m curious to know more about Lei’s unique eyes and what it really means as well.
A little side note:
I didn’t know how much this excerpt from the book would be quoted everywhere, but when I read it, it pretty much summed up my whole experience with the book, so I’m quoting it too. 🙂
We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable.
And there is a fire catching among us.
Girls of Paper and Fire
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after -- the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king's interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, she does the unthinkable -- she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world's entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
Are there certain themes in books that you stay away from?