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.
Before I start my review, I would like to state that this book does have trigger warnings for violence and sexual assault.
When it comes to Young Adult fantasy, trying to find something unique is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There is always a new obsession with vampires or werewolves or fairies and it can oversaturate the genre. So when I read Girls of Paper and Fire I was ecstatic to finally find a YA fantasy novel that not only has a well thought out world but a unique plot that stands out.
The plot also has plenty of twists and turns that I would love to talk about, but I won’t spoil anything. Just know you won’t expect what will happen.
While I did love the story there were a few things that kept me from giving a five-star review. To start, I felt the main character was a little bland. She kind of went along with everything and didn’t take much action, just here and there. Character’s like Wren or Akoi caught more of my attention and had conflicts that were way more interesting. I feel there could’ve been more development for Lei throughout the book to make her as interesting as the other characters around her.
Another part that bugged me was the romance. I did find the romantic plot enjoyable, but it only happened later on in the book. I felt like the two were just thrown together rather than taking the time to know one another. I would’ve liked for Wren and Lei to have spent more time together at the beginning of the novel so we can feel like their love was building.
But these are only minor complaints. Overall, the book was fantastic and a definite must-read of YA’s fall releases. All I can say is if you’re interested in reading it, DO IT! You won’t be disappointed.