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Fire by Kristin Cashore (audio) (YA)
labandbooks
proseandkahn
 
Unabridged audiobook on 1 Playway, self-contained MP3 , 12.5 hours. Read by Xanthe Elbrick. Penguin Audio, 2009. 

Here's another book that has been on my tbr pile forever. I actually have the arc, a signed one! Part of the reason why I never got to it was because I hadn't yet read Graceling. I know, I know, it's a companion novel, a prequel. But I'm one of those obsessives who read novels the way they are published. (I still shelve the Chronicles of Narnia in order of publication.) 

Fire is a monster. Really. She's the product of a human mother and a monster father. But that's not a bad thing where she lives. Unless, of course, you don't mind the fact that if you're a monster in Fire's world, and go outside with your head uncovered raptor monsters will attack you and men can't control their lust and longing for you. Fire has other problems as well. She does not wish to use her tremendous power for evil or good. She also thinks herself unworthy of love, and feels guilty about...

Fire, the character, is intriguing and complex. Fire, the story, is engaging, suspenseful, violent, action-packed and romantic. And yes, can totally be read without having read Graceling. I did read Graceling and loved it. But, Fire is a totally different story.

I absolutely adored Xanthe Elbrick's performance. Her voices and accents were amazing. Most of the reviews that I have read of Fire, recommend the book for grades 9 and up. This is probably due to the violence and some references to sexual situations. Mature middle grade fantasy fans will take this in stride, however. I find middle school lovers of high fantasy are able to handle both.