Author: Kristine Cashore
Lexile Measure: 870L
Reading Level: 9th Grade and Up

My Recommended Age: This is a bit risky for Young Adults...then again it is a bit risky for old adults too!

Maybe if their dying to read it and they are in 11th grade I would consider it...then again maybe not.

There is something about a book with 15 major awards under its cover that calls out to be read. A neighbor of mine recommended it, and although I had heard of it, I had not yet sought it out. So after almost a month on the library's waiting list, I finally got my hands on it.

Fire is a "prequel" to the best-seller Graceling. It takes place 30 years before Graceling, in the land of the Dells. All kinds of monsters are common in the land, and these beautiful creatures are very powerful and very dangerous. However, this is the story of Fire, the last "human monster" alive. Fire's father, also a "human monster", was perhaps the most hated and evil of all the monsters, using his power to harm, control, and seduce others. It was by that awful power that Fire was conceived and eventually taken away from the city.

Seventeen years later, the land of Dell is on the brink of war and Fire is called back to the city to help the royal family by using her mind reading gifts. She is aware of her late father's evil reputation and is fearful of her powers and the risk she takes in using them. There are many strange people and events hovering around her home, and she knows that in order to understand those, she find a way to use her gifts without harming others.

I was extremely disturbed by the Young Adult Label this book received. From the get go, this book is filled with drug/alcohol use, violence, rape-threats, confused parentage, illegitimate children, "friends with benefits", and blatant casual promiscuity. As Fire's appearance provokes strong emotion in others, Fire is constantly narrating the effects, both the appropriate and inappropriate, that she witnesses from men. Also, the discussion regarding her monthly bleeding is a huge chunk of the book and is just plain unnecessary. 

When I first started the book, I couldn't believe that this book was classified as a must read for all young adults!  I kept reading, and the "questionables" got better, but not much. Perhaps I should have read Graceling first, but I didn' friend told me that this was the romantic one, so naturally I went with this. Alas, it wasn't "my kind of romance".

I realize that I am going against the 15 major awards this has received, but I will not hand this book to a child of mine. I do wonder if the people who gave out all those awards have any teenagers at home.

Happy Reading

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