Fire (Graceling (Quality))

Fire  - Kristin Cashore This is Cashore's second book, which is being called a "companion" to the first book, Graceling. It's not a sequel, because the only thing the two books share is a cameo really from a character in the first book. This one can easily stand alone. The heroine Fire is a "monster." Like Katsa in Graceling she's specially marked and specially gifted in a way that sets her off, but otherwise they're little alike and the plot and characters are very different. It's a book that really pulls you in and doesn't disappoint. That said, I did rate this book half a star less than Graceling, and I'm not sure that's really because this book is the lesser. I read Graceling right after the "Twilight Saga" which I got through because part of me can't look away from a trainwreck, particularly one everyone else is gawking at. Coming from the passivity that is Twilight's Bella Swan, Katsa was just the antidote for my nausea--her opposite in every way. She's a kick-ass heroine that fights, often literally, to change the world around her rather than being acted upon. By the time I read Fire, I didn't feel the same fierce need for an anti-Bella. But the other reason is that while I can still vividly remember Graceling, I have to admit that a few years after first reading this I remembered nothing of Fire before a reread--it was an entertaining reread, but five-star reads are ones that linger in the mind--and preferably ones you can find something new in the second time around. That said, if you're looking for a diverting work of high fantasy with a strong heroine I'd think this is a book you'd very much enjoy. I'd recommend reading Graceling first--not because you need to, or because this book would be a spoiler, but I think that book presents Cashore at her best. (Though I'm currently reading the sequel Bitterblue, and about a quarter way in I think that might match or surpass it.)