Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Age Group: High school and above for mature themes!
Synopsis: “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”(Amazon.com).
I am so so excited to be finally writing this review!! This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read this year and I’m so glad I took the chance to read it when I saw it. This book wasn’t on my TBR, but I saw the enchanting cover on a shelf at the front of the library and checked it out immediately (without even reading the synopsis!). I still can’t get over the beautiful design, but even more so the story inside.
This story was so original and impactful to read, but every single element contributed to making the story just absolutely pop. Right off the bat, I felt included in the story and Lei’s life. The world building was done subtlety, but I still managed to catch all of the important points that were introduced in the first few chapters. I felt like this world really could’ve existed and it was really helpful in creating this feeling when the author reminded me throughout the story of important historical events. A lot had occurred in this world before the story started and it was a lot to take in, but the past was brought up plenty of times to remind me of certain details and also show the impact of history on the current events.
As I mentioned, I felt immediately connected to Lei as well as her world (and to all the other characters as soon as they were introduced). I’m honestly not sure what determines me getting invested in a character. Sometimes I have to read until halfway through a story before I start really sympathizing and then sometimes right off the bat I am so invested in the outcomes of these fictitious lives. If I ever figure out exactly what it is about writing that impacts this, I will be very happy to share that, but for now I’ll just say that I thought this was a very gripping novel and hopefully you’ll agree if you read it.
My last comment is just to say that this novel already had won me over but then it blew me away with the way the romance was entwined. It wasn’t the main focus constantly and so much more was going on (politics, mystery, mythology, and more), but it was still integrated and left me feeling so happy. That’s really all I have say! This book is profound, but also sweet and so very intriguing. I highly recommend you read it, because the second book is coming out in just a few months!