Book: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Page Count: 400
Synopsis: 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.
Welcome to 2020! And what a book to finish off at the start of the new decade, there are so many elements that I want to take from this into the new year. I know I’m really behind on reading it, but it was just as amazing as I thought it was going to be. I will always have so much love for this book, it was also made extra special by the fact that me and my friend buddy read it together.
First of all, I thought the story line was amazing and really creative, the dark feminist twists to the story really changed what could have been a normal YA dystopian feel narrative. It added another dimension to the story and characters, and meant that it had more depth to it.
The characterisation throughout was great, it wasn’t just a linear line for Lei either – she had dips and low moments, which felt more realistic and so relatable. We could feel for her in those moments when she missed home more than anything, or when she started to gain feelings for Wren. It was great to see her have those moments of defiance and anger, rare moments of courage contrasted with her fear and pain – a complete mix of real human emotions that brought the character together.
I can’t not mention the relationship and chemistry between Wren and Lei. Even before they both started admitting their true feelings, we knew what Lei was feeling before she did. The pure and beautiful way that Ngan writes the female body, is truly a work of art – that is probably my favourite thing about her writing! Every time she comments on Wren’s body during a dance or moving down the hall, it feels gentle in the descriptions of the shape of her waist or the outline of her body, and I loved it.
I liked that Wren turned out to be the one with the all-consuming destiny, and was the one who attempted to be stoic so as to not gain feelings – it was refreshingly different from it usually being the main character. Even though some of that destiny got effectively passed to Lei at the end, Wren wasn’t far away from saving her.
Despite all those good moments, I did find it really sad that we had to say goodbye to some characters before we even really got to know them. It really did all kick off during the last few chapters of the book, with everything else being at a much slower pace. The last chapter was very exciting to read though, and I can’t wait for the next book to see what happens next.
At the start of my review, I mentioned that I wanted to take elements of this into the new year. Those elements are that the girls make promises to each other that they are going to live for the now, and fight for what they love and believe in. I want to keep some of that passion and love for myself in 2020, and really take every day as it comes.
“I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one.”
“When the world denies you choices… you make your own”