I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns soon after it was released and loved it. It was so different from everything else I’d been reading, and when it was over I was salivating for the next book. But as I got caught up in other series, work, and projects, I didn’t get a chance to get back to it until this last week, when the final book, The Bitter Kingdom, came out. I had purchased all the ebooks and novellas but they just sat on my nook, waiting to be read. So in preparation for the final book I spent a week binge reading the whole series, leaving me breathless with anticipation for the final book. I COULD NOT WAIT.
And here is where I confess something. I was on the waiting list at the library for The Bitter Kingdom. I was probably right at the top. But when release day came and they still didn’t have any copies to circulate yet, I took my name off the list. I found an online only coupon and used slightly irresponsible money management, ordering a copy of my own. I loved the series enough that while I had the other books in digital format, I wanted them in physical form as well, so why not start with the last book? However, as I got confirmation emails stating I would receive my book in a week instead of 2-3 days and it was too late to cancel my order, I was dying with the need to know WHAT HAPPENED NEXT??? So in a fit of fangirl frenzy, I bought the ebook so I could read it IMMEDIATELY, even though a physical copy was on the way. I KNOW. I’m insane. But I needed to read it that badly. Yesterday I ignored all things non-critical and devoured the whole thing in one sitting.
And it was AMAZING.
It was the perfect ending to what in my mind was a perfect series. The books cover so many things, and in a way that blew my mind. Love, faith in God and in yourself, sexuality, body image, confidence, strength in all its forms, knowledge, growing up, destinies and potential, I could go on and on. And it did so in a way that left me reeling with that kind of hazy book hangover that one only gets after reading something that changes you in some way. I have loved many, many books. My list of favorites is pages long. But I can count on one hand the books that left me in such a state. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Fire by Kristin Cashore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, and now this series. (Which I guess now puts me at two hands.)
Anyway, I could write pages and pages about everything I loved (I practically have) but what I loved most what that this series is about a girl falling in love with herself. In my mind, that is the main love story here. Yes, she falls in love with swoon worthy guys over the course of the series (I LOVE YOU HECTOR), but ultimately it’s her own love for herself that touched me so deeply. In the beginning she’s shy and uncertain around others, preferring the company of books over the company of others. She is painfully aware of her shortcomings, and how those closest to her are aware of them as well. She’s an emotional eater, desperate to prove she’s worthwhile and yet completely unable to see how to do so (something I’m intimately familiar with, even though I’m 28 and not her 16).
Through extenuating circumstances, she is forced to use her body in ways she never has, and is able to see just how much she can do; changing not just her body, but how she views it. She says several times towards the end that while she will never be a willowy beauty like others she knows, her body has become strong, and capable of so much more than she would have ever imagined. She discovers how brave she is, and that even though she’s a teenage girl, she’s smart and fully capable of fulfilling the roles she’s been given, no matter what anyone else may say. All of this and more was what made her incredibly beautiful, not just to those dearest to her, but to herself. She no longer hated herself, wishing desperately to be someone or something else. She loved herself for who and what she was, and embracing what made her unique. I felt that was incredibly beautiful.
I honestly could go on and on about this series. About the men she falls in love with and why, and the parts they play in her evolution. The relationship she shares with Hector and why I find it to be one of the best love stories I’ve read in a long time. The way her views on faith and God and God’s will changes as she matures. The way she sees people twist their faith and their interpretation of God’s will as justification to do terrible things, so similar to what we see today. Her ability to put her own feelings and prejudices aside, no matter how difficult, so she can try to see things through the eyes of her enemies in order to understand them better, thus making it easier to work with them in the end. How the majority of the strong, kickass characters in the books were female, all earning their strength and courage and freeing themselves to make their own destinies. I mean, it’s just full of awesomeness. But this has gotten VERY long, so I’ll stop with the gushing now. But I just had to share, because it was so incredible, and when you find books that touch you, how can you not share that love with everyone, so they might have a chance to fall in love with it too?