Reading: March 13, 2019
Resume: 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.
This is typically the kind of book i would have bought just for the cover. But, since i got it in the November 2018 ‘Rise from the Ashes’ OwlCrate, i didn’t had to buy it. And, it was good that way. Because i hated it. And, since i hated it, i’m going to force myself to explain why point by point instead of just writing what comes into my mind when it comes.
We follow the story of Lei. She is a normal girl, from a normal town, in an almost normal family … except for her eyes. She has demon eyes, and that’s why she is brutally abducted from her home, taken to the capital to become a concubine for the all powerful demon king.
Well. I have read dozens of story like that one. The normal girl, ripped from her normal world and forced to live i a new one where she struggle to adapt. Yep. I’ve already read that story. And with a better plot. Everything was predictable. The way things turned out, the plots behind the demon king’s back, even who was responsible of it. Nothing surprised me. Nothing at all. I was bored, and i just kept reading because i liked the way Natasha Ngan wrote. That is the only reason why i did not “dnf” the book.
Let’s talk about the love story, now. I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t relate to the characters for one second, and i couldn’t care for their feelings or for what happened to them. So, well. Even that didn’t work for me. I just didn’t connect to the book for one second, despite the writing style. I didn’t care about Lei, or Marisa, or the other, and i just felt they were as predictable as the rest of the story.
And then, there is the rape scene. There is that scene where the king forces himself to her, just. because. he. can. Well. I’ve heard people telling me how feminist this story was since i’ve first heard of it. And that. that is not a feminist move. that is a sexist one. One does not use rape in order to make a character “rise”. One does not use rape just because the main male character is a douchebag with all the power you can think of. I think this was the moment i decided i couldn’t love this story. But i finished it anyway, just to see what would happen next, if at some point i would be surprised. (i didn’t.)
Let’s talk about the characters then.
Lei. Lei is everything i hate. She is the so called normal girl who happens to be special because of something she can’t even control : her eyes. She is the girl who is in the center of everything, even if she just can’t adjust to her world, even if she just can’t fit in. Her love interest was no better. The love story felt wrong. forced. I felt like it was some kind of “instant love” from lei, and then she put herself in deny, because she was just ‘supposed’ to be friend with an other girl.
I just didn’t feel anything for any of them. In the end, the only character i “liked” was the bitch-one, Marysa (or whatever she was named. I don’t even remember the characters’s names… that’s how much i cared.)
I promised myself to be honest on that blog, so i am. This was a book i didn’t like. I guess it was just not for me. I can understand why some people loved it, but i might just have read too many book like this one to really like it. Or maybe i’m just too feminist to like that kind of book, where rape and torture are justified because “this is how the world is”, and use to make a character rise. I felt this was really unnecessary. I’m not sure if i’m going to buy the sequel. Actually, i liked the writing style, but i didn’t like the story. That’s some weird way to like a book, right ?