Book Review: Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan
Published November 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books|400 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Series: Girls Of Paper And Fire #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
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.
TW: violence and sexual abuse.
I absolutely loved this book! I wasn’t sure about it at first but I ended up loving it, and while it’s not my favorite book from this year, it’s definitely one of my favorites.
One thing I wanted to start off with is the trigger warning for sexual abuse and violence. I loved that this book had one at the beginning, but I feel like it could have been slightly more obvious. Still, I’m glad it’s there but keep that in mind if you decide to pick up this book.
I thought Ngan handled both very delicately and respectfully. You really felt for Lei and the other girls as they were taken from their homes, and given to the king. The world Lei lives in, particularly once she goes to the palace seems beautiful, but danger lurks beneath the beauty, and she has to do things she doesn’t want to do. She says no, but is ultimately punished for that. It’s haunting, and even though Lei’s world is not real, quite a bit of the book is all too real. The way the king uses fear and power to control the Paper Girls, and they are seen as nothing but objects. It broke my heart to see what they had to go through, but I also loved that there was hope that things would change.
I loved Wren, and though she’s not the main character, she really was my favorite character. I just loved her story and everything about her. It took some time to warm up to Lei, but I ended up really liking her. And Aoki was really interesting as well.
I also loved the world. The author drew from her life growing up in Malaysia, and everything was so vivid. I wish we saw more of the world that Lei lives in, but we’ll have to wait until the next book, because we’re limited to just a few places in this book.
5 stars. I loved this book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially if you like diverse books and fantasy!