Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
Fire  - Kristin Cashore After reading Kristin Cashore's Graceling, I was torn between wanting and not wanting to read the next book, Fire, because Fire is more a prequel. Still, the writing in Graceling was so stellar it was a given I would read this, and quickly after Graceling.::: The Plot :::Fire takes place in a land beyond the Seven Kingdoms we learned of in Graceling, where there monster versions of every type of insect and animal exist. The monsters are so called not because of their looks -- they are actually more beautiful than the regular versions -- but because in addition to their great beauty, they are cannibalistic -- craving the meat of other monsters -- and because they possess mind-control. Most of the animals are limited to using it to lure prey to them, which is only exacerbated by their great beauty, but human monsters can control minds absolutely. Fire is the last human monster.Fire is afraid of her power, having grown up with her father, Cansrel, as her example. Cansrel used his power ruthlessly, controlling humans in an insatiable pursuit of pleasure. Fire vows to only use her power for self-preservation, and after her father's death, she makes her way in the world as a music teacher. Still, when the royal family her father once advised calls on her to come to court to try to identify the mind of someone who may have been in her vicinity, she goes, trying to reconcile her beliefs about using her power with the wants and needs of the royal family: King Nash, who is drawn to her monster beauty; Prince Brigan, who commands the army and may hate her; the illegitimate twins Garan and Clara; and a host of others who alternately fear her monster nature or are awed by it.::: Not Your Average Romance :::Fire is not your average young adult romance, because it doesn't follow the usual pattern where a couple faces some adversity in getting together, finally comes together, is separated for a reason, and ends up together in the end. Ordinarily, I ignore most of the "trade" reviews of books, but the one from Kirkus for this book hit it spot on: Fire falls in love with a city (when she goes to the capital to meet with the royal family), the family itself, the life she makes there, and then beyond that, she may fall in love. This is a romance with more than just boy-meets-girl; it's about a girl finding herself and learning all about human nature -- her own as well as that of those around her -- along the way. The romance is second to Fire's development as a person, which is rare in this genre, and should be celebrated.Fire is a very different book than Graceling, though it does contain some backstory for one of the characters in the first book, but is a standalone book in its own right, and a must-read one at that.This review previously appeared at Epinions:

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