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The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Narrated by: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: Fire and Thorns, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,328 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her 16th birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king - a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young.

Most of the chosen do.

©2011 Rae Carson (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Ugh...

This book...

It's not very good at all. DNF. I wish she would learn to accept herself and realize this king does not have to complete her. Honestly...I just...
I saw another review that says she sheds her weight by pretty much starving herself and only then does she feel worthy. If this book is meant for teen girls, I can't believe that this would be a good book for them to read. ESPECIALLY if it leads to said young women feeling like it's okay to have self-deprecating thoughts.

Also, I'm not a Christian and this book has a lot of Christian overtones. Not that I don't respect the religion. I'm just not interested in listening to it in a fantasy novel.

However, I LOVE Jennifer Ikeda's narrations. She does such a good job. That's the only reason this book got 3 stars. If it was a narrator that wasn't as good, the book would be a 1 star.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Lovely fantasy!

Lovely writing, rich settings, detailed characters, great story! The first few hours were a little slow, but once things got going I didn’t want to stop listening! This surprised me several times, which is a very good thing. I really want to gab about this book so it’s going to be hard to discuss without giving too much away!

This is a fantasy first and foremost, and like many fantasies it’s also a coming of age story. On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Elisa is married to the king of a neighboring kingdom, and she realizes she doesn’t really know why the marriage needed to take place and that no one thought to tell her (and we readers notice she didn’t think to ask!). She begins to take steps towards adulthood by asserting herself and making some of her own decisions. It’s not long before the plot takes a dramatic turn and Elisa takes great leaps along with it. That’s when things start to really get good! Magic, political power struggles, war, adventure… Expect plot turns and a good dose of girl power!

I loved that Elisa is full-figured and not shy about enjoying food. As the story moves along she learns more about balance, but her body image and self-confidence issues made her very easy to relate to. I also loved that none of the characters were perfect on close examination. You could tell the author really knew everything about her characters and her beautiful settings – everything's so well detailed!

The magic and sorcery elements in the storyline come from the story's religion. Princess Elisa was “chosen” to carry a magic gemstone in her naval soon after she was born (okay, the naval bit is a little funny), and through it she’s in very slight communication to higher powers and possibly magics. Praying and sacred texts show up a lot, but in a way that moves the story forward rather than slowing the pace. The author took some elements from Christianity to start this fantasy religion and then totally went her own way with it. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then this probably isn’t the book for you! Also, to any die hard romance novel readers out there, this is NOT a “girl meets boy and of course he’s her fated true love and they live happily ever after” story. There are romantic elements, but Elisa is the main focus instead of her romantic life, if that makes sense. Her story isn’t over. So pass on this one if that will be a deal-breaker for you.

This is the first book in a series but you could read it as a stand-alone. No terrible cliffhangers loom at the end, this gets to a reasonable conclusion with room for more to come later. I’ll definitely be getting the next books! Jennifer Ikeda reads beautifully. Once and a while her pace seemed a little more measured than I’d prefer, but she’s wonderful with voices and accents, and I’ll always be glad to see her name listed as narrator.

Highly recommended for lovers of fantasies and coming of age stories about girls you can really root for!

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Very religious

The story is alright if you don't mind it being completely centered around God and praying. The performance was great though.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Slow and underwelming

I honestly I'm not sure if it was the book or whether I had too high of expectations. Almost after every purchase I made with other books this book was recommended to me so finally after passing it over time and time again I thought I'd give it a try. It did enough to keep my interest throughout the book and I absolutely love the narrator and her performance may be the reason why I made it through to the end. I didn't connect with any of the characters I wasn't personally emotionally invested and whether or not they succeeded or failed. I believe that throughout the story I was waiting for something bigger to happen then what actually did. The fact that Audible and Goodreads both suggested this book to me based on things I've purchased and liked made me press on throughout the course of the book and honestly may be the only thing that got me through it besides the fact it was read by one of my favorite narrators.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I bought it for the narrator

What would have made The Girl of Fire and Thorns better?

I think teenagers would really like this story, It wasn't for me. I bought it because of Jennifer Ikeda.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story was detailed and the characters developed. I just couldn't stick with it. I tried a couple times.

What does Jennifer Ikeda bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She is one of my top three narrators!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Detailed story.

Any additional comments?

For me, it was immature.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A fabulously well done fantasy!

Any additional comments?

This book totally rocked! And also sucked (in a good way)! I know, that doesn’t sound right…but it does in my head.

When I first started reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was shocked to discover pretty much in the very beginning of the book that the main character Elisa is getting married…like literally getting dressed for the big matrimonial event! I’ve read books where a girl was going to get married, or gets married later on, or even gets married in the beginning but quickly thereafter the marriage ends, but Elisa actually gets married in the very beginning of a YA book! Like for real! And it was an arranged marriage because of her royal status. I was shocked! Can you tell? And I was immediately so intrigued about where this story was going to go, that I was stuck!

But it wasn’t just the beginning of the book that had me intrigued to keep on reading; I also think Rae Carson did a fabulous job creating a totally compelling main character, Elisa. We are basically informed in the very first scene of The Girl of Fire and Thorns that Elisa is overweight. But I was determined to discover “how” overweight she was. And being in Elisa’s head was very entertaining. Her whole thought process and her perception of everything going on around her was very fun. It was a lot of fun watching Elisa grow on the inside and shrink on the outside. Wait…did I say that? Spoiler! And then her obsession with food and all the times she would get hungry was just hilarious! OH! And the one thing that I discuss the most with everyone after I read this book is…the Godstone! I had a really hard time picturing this stone that’s imbedded into Elisa’s stomach, and all I kept thinking about was those Troll Dolls that have a jewel in their stomach. Boy was that distracting. Oh! And I can't forget that kick butt scene her nurse did out of no where! You've got to read it to see what I mean.

I’m not even going to dive in to the whole love interest thing because that could possibly be a major spoiler! Or maybe not…

Not only was this book fun and entertaining to read, but there were some pretty crazy things happening throughout the book as well. It’s not very far into the story when there is a big plot twist and then everything changes in Elisa’s life. It was awesome! And then there is the tragedy(ies)! Yep!!! I cried a couple times in this book.

Pretty much everything that happened in this book was unexpected, but I for sure didn’t expect that it would end the way it did, and I started The Crown of Embers the very moment I finished The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Moral of the story: Heroines can't be overweight.

This is, by far, the worst book I've encountered on Audible.

The storytelling was weak, the dialogue was uninteresting, and the characters weren't relatable.

I found myself unable to root for the protagonist because I couldn't like her. That's not to say she was unsympathetic. That would be giving Rae Carson too much credit. Instead, we are faced with a protagonist who never seems to display realistic human emotions (other than brief moments of teenage angst).
My biggest complaint, however, is the way Carson addresses body image. At the beginning of the story, Elisa is overweight, lazy, apathetic, and generally useless. Apart from being the "chosen one," she has no qualities that would make a reader invest in her. She spends a great deal of her time thinking about how fat and ugly she is. A protagonist with body image issues could make for a very compelling story, but that's where Carson goes totally wrong.

Rather than learning to accept herself for who she is, Elisa mopes around being completely useless, until she is literally forced to lose weight. And how is this accomplished? Through starvation and rigorous exercise. Yes, diet and exercise are important for one's health, but this change in her lifestyle comes from outside forces, rather than any inner strength.
Finally, after enough starvation, and a whole bunch of walking, Elisa loses weight. Once she is no longer fat, she suddenly gains confidence, tenacity, and leadership skills.

Remember, the target audience for this story is primarily teenage girls (many of whom have body image issues of their own). The message they are receiving seems to be "If you lose a lot of weight, your life will automatically improve. If you starve yourself, people will admire you."

Even if this story hadn't been sub-par, the underlying message would have been enough to drive me away.

22 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worth a listen

I took many of these reviews to heart, but decided to give this a listen anyway.
I think the underlying message about body image is, in the end, positive, mostly because her sense of self and worth by the end is no longer manifested in how she views and treats her body. It becomes a tool, as she becomes a tool. There is a subtle but telling foil of those that love her because her appearance has changed, and those that have loved her through the process of her becoming a humble, flawed, and powerful ruler, completely apart from what she does or doesn’t look like.
I enjoyed the Iberian undertones, and there was a fun little nod to liberation theology as well. It’s a religion that resembles a real one more than others I’ve seen in YA fantasy, but in treating it as just that—fantasy, metaphor—I didn’t find it as distracting as I expected to, given the other reviews.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ok

I thought this book was ok but had tons of potential to be much better. I felt it was all over the place and I truly just finished it because I bought it. It didn’t leave me wanting to read more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Too many long pauses

I’m not sure if it was how the book was written, how it was narrated or how it was recorded but there were so many long pauses to the point that I feel like part of the book was maybe missing, my phone stopped playing, etc. Whatever it was I didn’t love it. The book probably deserved better than that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful