Girls of paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Question: Did I like this book?
Answer: F*** YEAH I DID!
Okay folks…So here’s the thing, I started out scared because WHAT IF IT DIDN’T MEET THE EXPECTATION I HAD??? AKA the one thought which was “it has to be good, look at that cover, read that title!” BUT LIKE…HOT DAYUM. This book
This book is about a selfish Demon King who likes to sleep around…it’s a weird tradition, and it’s been going on for far too long and sadly it involves sleeping with unwilling human girls. This book is about those girls that are taken from their families and forced to become the King’s concubines. Before you even get really started with this book you are warned that this book includes rape. It is not explicitly in your face rape, it is not very detailed, but trust me even without a warning…you would know. With that said…let’s get started on talking about it.
First of all, I really like how the different castes are represented and exemplified in this book. I like the new view of the demons which was creepy at times but also totally awesome. The demons in this book or the
- Moon Castes were very animalistic looking creatures which was great but it was insane and creepy because ….I HAVE A DOG AND LIVE WITH A CAT I’D pee my pants if I had them talking and ordering me around.
- The Steel Castes which were half Paper and half Moon castes were animalistic but also humans. Which was cool but again…creeeeeeppppyyy. Yes 10/10 would still pee my pants multiple times if I had to be near them.
- Finally we have the Paper castes which are humans. That’s it, that’s me. I’d be human. Unless I was a freaking cool Lion demon…okay fine so my pants would be pee-free if I was a lion demon / Moon caste. But still.
I just really like the castes because I could picture the animals and humans and I could feel the unease because if Luna or Cocoa started calling me off I’d cry and panic for life.
I started out with a strange intrigue for our main character, Lei, and honestly THAT GIRL DOES NOT. I repeat. DOES NOT disappoint. She’s such a girl. She’s a girl who grew up a bit sheltered, she knew how bad things were in the world but in her town they’re so far away from stuff that like ehh at least they leave us alone, right? So they don’t care as much as they should. But Lei is as the kids these days would call it, a freaking savage! She just destroys everyone at all times and it is HILARIOUS. The way she talks to everyone she doesn’t like. The way she doesn’t take crap from anyone, I was in love.
…”the chopsticks here must be different from the ones in Xienzo,” she says coolly.
…….”yes,” I mutter under my breath. “The ones here seem to be used as sticks up everyone’s-”page 72 for those of you who want to go stalk the gold that comes out of Lei all the time.
I liked that all of the Paper Girls were in this mess that they didn’t WANT but were willing to do what needed to be done and play the game in order to stay safe. Except, poor Aoki, that poor wee child, I NEED HER TO BE PROTECTED K? THANKS. But I could tell as I read that none of the girls was genuinely excited to be there to turn into the Demon King’s concubines. They didn’t want to be there, but hey man when you have to keep your family safe, play ball I guess?
- I loved Aoki, and I adored how she was so bubbly and kind from the start. But sadly she grew up and things that happened made me sad but also, still glad that she and Lei were back to their besties status. Though I am not sure what’s going to become of their friendship after the ending of this book. But I hope it doesn’t go south.
- I honestly also really liked Chenna. Like a lot. She was so straight-forward and seemed to be so collected but then when she started to interact and the little things that she did, like her silent prayers for the slaves just MADE ME ADORE HER. Because that’s when I could really feel the pain and torment that not just Lei, but all of the girls had. At first you’d imagine Chenna was doing her duty because she wanted to comply but also…what could she really do? She was trying to stay alive and keep her family safe like all of the other girls.
- Wren was just wonderful. She knew what she was doing, what she was about, and also I appreciate a character that should be totally calm but laughs at all of the savagery that comes from the others. I adore it. I liked that Wren was also funny but without being as insanely open-mouthed as Lei.
- Blue. She was…something. But I felt genuinely bad for her because I can only imagine how awful it felt for her to have lived her life as an obedient child and then be sold off to the freaking king. I felt for her when she’d try and find out if her father was alive and well and got nothing because he didn’t care, I learned to really feel for Blue and I really hope that the next book does her well. JOIN THE RESISTANCE, BLUE. DO IT.
- The twins Zhen and Zhin were very kind and I appreciated any interaction we had with them but also…it wasn’t as much as the rest of the girls, but these two are characters I am hoping survive and join the resistance as well as Chenna and the rest.
- Lill who is a Steel Caste maid that Lei is assigned is wonderful and I just hope she ends well and they save her because she’s a kid and she deserves to live!
I don’t believe Aoki would which makes me very sad but also it just seems that she’d join the King.
I have talked about the absolute hilarity and total badassery that occurs almost every time Lei opens her mouth. She has a very small filter that only functions when she really tries to use it. Other times it’s very flimsy and dies out. Lei hates the King and everything that has to do with him and it makes sense, she knows what’s happened, she knows he’s a monster and not because he’s a Moon caste.
Lei is one of those rare to find characters that is a total badass without needing to fight. Honestly, by the end of the book I was convinced that she was never going to have to get physical and I was okay with it because there was power in the things she was already doing to resist the King. Or Third Son, whatever you want to call him. Lei was the one person who didn’t look forward to being with the King. She didn’t care about the rules set up she wanted to keep her family safe just like the other girls but also she didn’t grow up learning etiquette like a lot of the girls…so she genuinely didn’t care, and would say what she meant and felt a lot. Which was great because honestly…WE ALL KNOW THE OTHER GIRLS THOUGHT SO TOO SO UMM YEAH.
I liked that she did eventually have a plan to use her unique herb skills to get what she wanted, even though it backfired, but it was okay. It was okay because she didn’t stop trying no matter what happened. I personally love Lei, and I love that she was okay with being friends with Aoki, I liked that her sass was what helped her be liked by most of the other girls. I liked that she didn’t need to tear anyone down. She didn’t have a problem with the other girls being pretty and girly, it wasn’t something she looked down upon even when she didn’t feel particularly striking in comparison. She was a smart girl who was kind to those around her…except for Blue but ummm I think we all know why.
Speaking of Blue and Lei…I am again, CHEERING for my MVP Lei because she offered. She knew Blue hated her, she knows Blue is rude for rudeness sakes and she still tried to be there for her and honestly, I think if given the chance Lei will continue to try and be her friend and I feel like that’d be an awesome friendship because seriously Blue has potential and I am rooting for it endlessly. That is all folks.
I hated the king. Third Son deserved all that he got, expect that epilogue scene that was so not what I was hoping for but oh well here we go. Overall, he’s a very abusive and controlling character and I liked that. I hated him, but I can appreciate him as a character because you never know what you’re going to get. He’s drunk and crazy, he’s sober and seems okay, he’s sober and he makes you uneasy. You never know what you’ll get besides a whole lot of crazy. So kudos to that, Natasha.
World-building and story-telling:
10/10 seriously. Oh lord I love the way this story was told. I absolutely adored the way that everything was explained. I know the history of this messed up world. I know the crazy things that happen and how certain areas of this world are and where everyone’s family deals with life. I like knowing and seeing all of the racism, no I don’t like racism, but you get to read about it and see what things tear people apart and you also see where race / caste system doesn’t matter to some people. You get to see what unites people as well as separates them. I think it’s one of those really good things to see. Plus, I feel like I genuinely got a good idea of the culture of the story which I loved.
So tell me fellow book nerds, have you read this book? How did you feel about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments 😀