Girls of Paper and Fire | 5 Star Book Review
Hi friends! I read this a long time ago and only now managing to write my review. Let’s go with that it took me this long to get over it! I’m currently reading the next one and OH BOY is it good.
This story really handles difficult topics well, but make sure you check out trigger warnings before you jump in so you’re prepared and don’t hurt yourself.
Trigger warnings at the bottom!
Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire, #1) by Natasha Ngan
Published by Jimmy Patterson Books on November 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, 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 demeaning. This year, there's a ninth. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after -- the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king's interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, she does the unthinkable -- she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world's entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
I loved loved LOVED Girls of Paper and Fire! There’s f/f romance and it’s slowly drawn out, which I loved! I don’t get to read enough f/f romance so I was living for it. It’s not graphic or too cliched which kept me wanting more and more.
There’s intrigue and mystery surrounding what happened to her mother, which I’m hoping there will be more about in the next book.
Don’t get me wrong, this story isn’t all love and fluff, far from it. There’s a lot of darkness and trauma which just infused me with a desire for justice for the paper girls. They’re the King’s concubines, basically there for his sexual whims which is gross. It’s written well and I felt angry on their behalf. This book is about fighting the oppression they face, girls supporting each other and working together to defeat the enemy.
I loved seeing all the different aspects of this world, how everyone lives with the politics and rules, how they deal with their position in the world. From Lei’s family life, to the life of a paper girl, to the King and those who help the paper girls. It’s fascinating.
The worldbuilding for this is on FIRE (pun intended), from the integration of magic & demons, even the small things like Lei’s locket that will open at the right time… so intriguing! It’s all conveyed super well which doesn’t take you out of the story. It is a blend of mythology and asian culture that was super fascinating and enticing, Natasha spun a very interesting world.
Natasha handled the difficult themes of this book really well, with gentle, capable hands. I’m in awe of her skill!
The story is told in first person, from Lei’s perspective. The pacing was steady, with face paced bits and slow paced, which worked beautifully. It’s not a story you want to rush through, though some bits you definitely want to get through fast due to their nature.
The character development is super key in this story, and done very well. We get to know them all well and can see the changes they go through. Some for the better, some for the worse, but I won’t spoil that for you.
We spend the majority of the story with the paper girls, seeing their lives and what they have to go through and how it affects them. The descriptions are awesome, even though I am known to skip them at times, I didn’t in this book! It made me hungry at the how the food was described.
The ending, THE ENDING. What a cliffhanger! Be prepared.
The characters were well developed and each with their unique personality traits. There were characters I loved, and characters I hate.
I loved Lei so much. She faces so much adversity, has been through so much but sticks to her beliefs, which I find truly admirable. I loved watching Lei grow as the book went on.
Wren is so badass and I love her, the yin to Lei’s yang. They compliment each other so well and I SHIP THEM SO HARD.
Aoki, my precious bean. So adorable, innocent and misguided. I look forward to seeing her blossom in the next novel, (or not, who knows!)
There are many more characters, but you’ll just have to read it to find out more! Trust me, it’s good.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a dog death on page 18. Honestly, I struggle with dog death so I have to warn you about it!
There’s Sexual assault, graphic animal death, torture, slavery.
I hope you enjoyed this review! Better late than never, right?! Have you read this yet? Let me know what you thought!
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Special thanks to Cassandra Lee – MADEUP Parenting and Book Reviews who is Galactic Warrior!