Monday, February 11, 2019

REVIEW: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan - 4.5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Jimmy, Little Brown
Publication: October 23rd 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading Format: Provided ARC

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a beautiful and horrible Asian inspired fantasy story about a kingdom that is ruled by a Demon King. Humans are labeled Paper Caste and each year eight Paper Caste girls are taken away from their families to be trained in the ways of sexual pleasure for the king. These girls become his concubines for a year and then new girls come in. But this year, something different happens. A ninth girl is brought in and she might end up being the king's downfall.

Lei is the ninth Paper Girl. She is stolen from her home by a general trying to get back into the kings good graces. What makes Lei so special? Her eyes look like molten gold. This makes her rare. sadly, though, this isn't the first time someone has been taken from her family. Years ago, the king's army raided her village and took her mother. As Lei is accepted into the Paper Girl house she learns that things are going to be a lot harder for her than she imagined but she is determined to make sure the king never gets her and she is even more determined to figure out what happened to her mother.

The story itself was beautifully told, the writing was gorgeous and the world building was pretty but could have been a bit more. Girls of Paper and Fire is a book that proves that things can be both beautiful and tragic. Yes, this plot was mostly fantastical, a lot of the elements came from truth.

This book does contain a lot of sexual references and a lot of sexual assault but the book has a lot of meaning and fact behind it. I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine about how different things are for women in Japan and Korean, she didn't want to touch on China because she didn't personally know how they work and this was coming from her personal experience with her own culture and family members. She really opened my eyes to many things and I am grateful to her for talking to me about the subject matter.

Aside from the sexual assault and gratuitous sexual mentions, there is a romance in the book between Lei and a girl and it is an amazingly beautiful relationship built on trust and a mutual understanding and hatred of the king. So not only does this book contain a lot of cultural meaning, but it also contains an LGBT+ romance that adds so much depth to the story.

In the end, I recognized that this is one of those books that I will probably have to read a few times in order to fully grasp everything that went on. All the good, bad and treacherous deeds that occurred throughout this story are something that needs to be digested over a period of time. I am sort of happy about this because aside from all the horrible things that the girls in the book faced, the story itself, the words the author put onto paper, was beautiful. It was almost like the author wrote the stories onto the skin of the Paper Girls themselves and allowed them to tell their own stories to the reader and I cannot wait to see where the girls take us in the next book!

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

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