First, my mom sent me this article from The Columbus Dispatch on a new YA fantasy book author who’d bucked some of the usual conventions of the genre. Then a friend said it was one of the best YA novels she’d read in recent memory. So I sought out Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
It’s about a girl chosen by God, which is signified by a jewel in her belly button, who is pursued by many who think they know what God’s will is. Elisa is a sympathetic character–she’s fat, she’s insecure, she pees herself at one point. And it’s not a romance. Romance-y things happen, but so do many bad things. It reminded me strongly of Hunger Games, but was more realistic about sexuality to balance its violence. I raced through this, and look forward to the sequel.
I was, though, disappointed that the “God” parts were so conventional. Why was God unquestionably a single entity, and “he”? Even though it’s fantasy, it’s so conventionally Christian it could read as religious fiction. I would have liked to see a more complex, provocative take on religion since it plays such a central part in the story.