Girls of Paper and Fire
Author : Natasha Ngan
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 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.
Sooooo much hype around this book ! So much expecations. And yet, it didn’t meet them for me. It was a good book, but I don’t know… I wanted more from it.
First, I need to say I love the Paper Girls concept (I mean, in a book, not IRL of course), and I enjoyed discovering them. Truth is, I would have loved to see more of them, and see previous Paper Girls, and maybe something could have happened with them !
I was disappointed by how minor the secondary characters were. The other Paper Girls are mentionned by name, but we almost never see them, and most of them have no substance. I just really wanted to read a bit more about them. Of course not as much as the main characters, but a liiiiiiiiiittle bit more.
Regarding the main characters, Lei and Wren have good dynamic. Wren is this perfect combination of cute and mysterious, and I was curious about her until her big reveal. Lei I didn’t care so much about, I couldn’t tell why. I just couldn’t be interested in her backstory, her family or anything. She was more a narrator to me than anything else. Honestly, I think that this impression is solely due to the fact that I had read several similar books recently, and my brain just couldn’t take it anymore.
Another character that didn’t quite get the attention he deserved is the king. The whole plots revolves around getting to the king and trying to make him fall, and yet, we don’t really know all about him. We don’t really know what he did (sure we get some exemples, but not many), what drives him to do it, who he is as person. He’s just portrayed as a villain, and that’s it. I was disappointed about it since I love royal characters so much !
However, I must admit I completely flew through the book. The action is well-paced, alternating stressful moments with cute ones, powerful ones with authentic ones, it has a good balance overall. The writing catches your attention, and only lets it go when you reach the end of the book.
Did you think Girls of Paper and Fire was worth the hype ?
Thanks for reading !
See you soon,