Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Age Range: 15-17
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.
OH MY FREAKING GOSH THIS BOOK IS LIFE!
I was in a dark room and this book was like a burning flame that gave me hope.
There are no words to describe how much I love this book. There are several different reasons that I can list. Natasha Ngan did such a wonderful job and I wish I could do her justice in this blog post. I’ll try, but I don’t think I can..
First off I would like to say that this book does have trigger warnings for violence and sexual abuse.
But how she wrote the characters coping and living through the sexual assault makes it feel so real. And through the different characters she portrayed the many ways people cope or see the situation because not everyone thinks and experiances the same things. She wrote it raw and true and didn’t hold back.
And the historical inspiration and influence of imperial China and Chinese and Asian history that she’s talked about bringing into the book. Once you read it, you really see it. It’s so beautifully described and explained through the main character Lei that you can vividly see the setting and life in your mind.
The most exciting thing for me was the f/f rep that was in the book. She wrote the struggle so true. I have several places sticky noted and my favorite saying where she speaks of love. It was so heart wrenching and true that at several parts where Lei talks to or about her love interest, I had to set the book down and take a moment.
Let’s not forget the badass group of characters. Everyone was created so well. All of them strong women with their own personalities, well rounded in my book. Even the paper girls you didn’t like, you couldn’t help but feel their pain and emotion and love them. And Lei, the main character, her development through the story is amazing. The demons (Moon caste) and partial demons (Steel caste) were so well written, from the ones who helped Lei to the ones who were horrible. She managed to bring life to them all and make them human. As a writer who wishes to publish their work, I can only hope my characters are as well written as Natasha’s.
I’d also like to talk about the different castes just for a quick moment. Can I just say that she did a phenomenal job at writing the structure and power struggles between them. It feels so life like and you can picture it in our world today.
Thank you, Natasha, for such a wonderful and touching story that I will cherish forever.