I received this book for free from Jimmy Patterson Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Published by Jimmy Patterson Books on November 6th, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+, YA
Source: Jimmy Patterson Books
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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.
TW: violence and sexual abuse.
I am a mood reader and my mood this year has led me to read WAY WAY WAY more contemporary novels than fantasy novels, even though there was once a time when I would avoid contemporary novels like the plague. I dove into Girls of Paper and Fire because it sounded great but also came highly recommended from a friend. The first time around, I got to about 10% and then stopped reading because I just didn’t have the energy for a fantasy but then, I picked it up again and got completely sucked in. Girls of Paper and Fire was so refreshing not just because it’s so wholly different from the contemporaries I have been reading lately but also because it takes some common fantasy tropes and puts its own, unique twist on them (please note that I love tropes and tropes are my fav.)
Lei is forcibly taken from her home to serve as a paper girl for the Demon King – the highest honor for any girl belonging to the paper caste. Of course, Lei isn’t honored. I think, the fact that Lei already stands out from the rest of the girls because of her gold eyes could easily allow her to be one of those characters who is ‘not like the other girls’ but that was just not the case here. Lei, is, of course, a badass and I love that she works so hard to stay true to herself but more than that, I love the paper girls as a group. I love that even though not all the paper girls are friendly, they do understand each other. They are there for each other (FOR THE MOST PART) and realize almost all of them would rather be somewhere else. I think the most powerful part of this novel is seeing this group of girls navigate their extremely unequal society and finding strength & inspiration in one another.
The world is also so fascinating! I always love a good fantasy world and even though, in this book, we are mostly restricted to the palace and don’t get to experience much of the physical world of Ikhara, the social world is very well developed. We get an entire backlog of history and culture and I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE more of this world. I KNOW WE HAVE GREAT ADVENTURES AHEAD OF ME.
Also. Like. Okay. So. WOW I AM SO GOOD WITH WORDS. But I am trying to transition into talking about the romance and its hard because I LOVE THESE BABIES SO MUCH. So, if you read my reviews/know me. You know I am a slow burn kinda gal and question when people declare their ILYS much too quickly. But honestly, the chemistry & romance between Lei and Wren is SO WELL WRITTEN everything just felt natural. Also I loved that it was a little angsty too… (HAHAHA.)
Everyone and their dog has heard of Girls of Paper and Fire at this point but if you haven’t, this book needs to be on your tbr. The hype doesn’t disappoint and even though the ending will leave you screeching in agony, sacrificing your emotions to the greater good of having this novel will be worth it.
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