Last week, my wife brought home a book called Fire by Kristin Cashore. A friend, Joy, lent it to her because she knows we liked Twilight. Fire is the first book I’ve read from author Kristin Cashore. I gathered that there is a book called Graceling which she wrote prior to Fire.

kristin cashore Fire

      monster:
	1. any creature that is so ugly or monstrous as to terrify 
            and frighten people.
	2. any  human or   animal  grotesquely  deviating  from  
            the  normal form,  shape, or behavior. 
	3. a  person  who  excites  horror  by brutality, harshness, 
            cruelty,  wickedness,  etc.  
	Synonyms: brute, fiend, devil, demon,  miscreant.

If Jean Grey was in this story, she’d be called a monster too. Except that, aside from her powers, she’d have to be extremely beautiful to qualify as a true monster. Thus the definitions above do not necessarily reflect the kind of monsters found in Kristin Cashore’s book.

Fire is a story that revolves around the character named err… Fire. She is a teenage monster. She has a monster father and a regular mother. While Publishers Weekly commented that this will ‘slake the thirst of Twilight fans’, there are actually only a very few things in ‘Fire’ that is comparable to ‘Twilight’, the most obvious ones being – both falls under the fantasy category, the main character here is also a teenager, and has powers above the ordinary.

The story is set in a place called The Dells, just South of Pikkia. Sorry, you won’t find these places on Google maps. I even tried Seven Kingdoms (the setting for Graceling), and the best I could find is a street in Pulaski, Kentucky called 7 Kingdoms Way.

Fire

Fire finds herself in a predicament in that her kind, despite their extraordinary beauty, are hated and mistrusted. This is primarily because of the fact that they could control anyone and make them do anything they want. This mistrust and hatred grew out of the doings of her father, Cansrel, who used his powers for his own ends, killing or using people without qualms. Besides, monsters of all kinds abound in the Dells too. For each existing animal, there are monster equivalents: monster rats, cats, horses, gnats, mosquitoes, birds, lions, leopards, etc, all extraordinarily beautiful and captivating. The monster lions and leopards are as vicious and frightening, perhaps even more so, as the ordinary lions and leopards. Raptors, huge monster birds, abound in the skies and are the main hindrances (aside from the thieves and brigands) to travelling in the open. These raptors patrol the skies and swoops down and takes people (and especially, other monsters) for dinner.

Because of this predicament, she hides from everyone except for a few people who knew her real character and thus loved and trusted her, e.g. her childhood friend Archer. But she has a duty to do for the kingdom where she belongs. She of course could choose to shirk away from this responsibility but it would mean the downfall of King’s City and the rule of chaos and anarchy, which would also mean making her life even more miserable (as she is a much coveted commodity for all forms of beasts who would want to rule). Thus, she becomes the central pillar for King’s City’s survival in the war. Particular in the few hours before the war, her use of her powers proved to be the turning point of the city from sure destruction to victory. In modern times, it would have been like having the advantage of satellite eyes, radars and sensors, and subliminal manipulation. It is here where she finds her conceptions of her monster nature to be unnecessarily true. A monster can, after all, live with regular people and become a comfort and inspiration to them. Hopefully, the people would soon totally let go of any mistrust and hatred they have for her and for other monster people (which is unlikely because she is the last monster, at least in The Dells).

Oh, of course, there’s a love story here. Had my wife some writing inclinations, she would have firstly dwelt more on the love story and whose son or daughter is who. There’s Archer, Brigan, Roen, Brocker. I’m not good at describing a love story though. If you like fantasy stories, you’ll certainly like Fire. My next book to read of course would be Kristin Cashore’s Graceling*. One more thing: Kristin Cashore has a blog where you’ll find the humor and wit behind the fantasy writer. I have a feeling that this writer is going to have her break pretty soon, with her books going the way of Twilight – that is, into movies.

Praise for Fire:

  • Winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award.
  • Winner of the Cybil in the category of YA Fantasy and Science Fiction.
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection.
  • An ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
  • A Kirkus Best YA Book of 2009. (PDF)
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2009.
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2009.
  • One of Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2009.
  • A 2009 Booklist Editors’ Choice.
  • One of Booklist’s “Top 10 SF/Fantasy Titles for Youth.”
  • A YALSA 2010 Teens’ Top Ten Nomination. (PDF)
  • A Washington Post Best Kid’s Book of the Year.
  • A Seattle Times Best YA Book of 2009.
  • On the Winter 2010 Indie Next Kid’s List.
  • On the 2010 CCBC Choices list.
  • A New York Times and a Publishers Weekly best seller.
(source: Kristin Cashore’s blog)

*Graceling: In a country west of The Dells is a nation called the Seven Kingdoms where their equivalent to The Dells’ monsters are called gracelings. These humans usually are identified by color-mismatched eyes. Each of these gracelings have graces (powers). Some can read minds, some can move really fast, some can cause fires, etc. The seven kingdoms is separated from The Dells by rugged, impassable, and un-inhabitable mountain ranges.

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