Title: Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1) by Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Published: November 6, 2018
Read as: Barnes and Noble Exclusive edition hardback
Average Goodreads rating: 4.01
My rating: 2
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. (Goodreads)
“Because if this is to be my fate, I’m going to walk boldly into it on my own two feet.”
Hi, hello there. Welcome to one of those reviews I write fully expecting someone to verbally flay me for my bookish opinions. It has happened before, I am sure it will happen again. And this, this book, might just be the one that sends someone over the edge. Why?
Because I was so damn bored. And irritated. And bored.
Now, normally, I wouldn’t write a full review for a DNF. However, seeing at I got to 75% completed, I am making an exception for this story.
Every chapter was a lesson in tedium and repetitiveness. As soon as I would turn to a new chapter I could tell you, nearly exactly, what would happen in that chapter. Why? Rampant predictability, very little change of setting, repetitive themes, and so very little character development.
And the characters were about as interesting as a pack of chalk. Some of them seemed to drop off of the face of the planet when they ceased to be useful as plot fodder and none of them had any truly defining characteristics. It was like someone had made a template for female characters and just hit “crtl c” and gave them different names.
Now, I went into this book with high hopes, so maybe that colored my closing opinions and we all know that high hopes are easily dashed. I was promised LGBT themes and, I will give credit where credit is due, those themes were represented. On a personal level I was not entirely comfortable with how they were represented but for the sake of the plot and setting it made sense. I HATE reading about an LGBT relationship where the individuals involved are forced to hide. It just makes me angry to my very core. Again, it made sense during the story progression but at the same time why does it have to be hidden in the first place? Why does it have to be a part of the story progression? Why can’t it just be open and unjudged?! *insert rage face here*
One thing I can openly praise in the story is the imagery. The settings were lovingly described and with luscious detail. The leaves, silk screens, clothing, everything was so vivid and lovely. Ngan truly brought her setting to life and I could see it so clearly. Even when the characters were merely cut out puppets, they walked through a world that was so lovingly and carefully created. A remarkable job on that front.
As a whole, though, this story wasn’t worth it. Between the repetition, the cookie cutter characters, lack of character development, and a somewhat sketchy LGBT rep I was just angry by the time I finally decided to DNF this book. I understand that it has received a lot of love from the community and that is wonderful. Maybe other folks have gotten something out of this story that I haven’t and that is great, I am happy for you, but it simply made me frustrated. I cannot personally give it any more than a 2/5.