Hello all! In case you didn’t hear, this month’s book club read was Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. It’s an amazing book and I just posted my review on it over the weekend which you can read here. We were excited to jump into this as we haven’t read much (if any) fantasy for our book club just yet. There will be some spoilers so be warned!
Just over half of us had finished reading the book and everyone who did gave it a fab rating! It got 4 stars and over by everyone, which is really cool! It’s always great when the majority or all of the group have enjoyed the book and we can have a big, happy chat about it together.
Let’s get straight (ha) into the queer representation in the book. Something really interesting about it is that it is seen as way more acceptable for men to be with men than women to be with women. We discussed this and all agreed it’s probably down to the world they are in – it’s very oppressive towards women and women are all below men. They are seen as objects to be owned. The men seem to have free choice (depending on their status) so it doesn’t seem to be an issue for a man to be with a man. Lei makes a few comments on this and notes that she never sees two women together. It was a really interesting aspect that we all picked up on.
Lei’s own sexuality was really wonderful to read about. It wasn’t a coming out story but she was figuring herself out in terms of who she was attracted to. She was quite at ease with liking women – the bigger fear was being attracted to someone who she shouldn’t be since she was a Paper Girl. They are classed as the King’s property, therefore any other relationship is forbidden.
We found Lei and Wren’s relationship quite natural and slow paced (this isn’t a bad comment, we enjoyed this!) It built really nicely throughout and we didn’t feel it was rushed. It made sense that they were so wrapped up in each other as their circumstances were traumatic and rather frightening – to find someone who understands you and cares for you is a safe haven.
For a few of us at Book Club, Fantasy is a fairly daunting genre. It isn’t our first to pick up and often they can be difficult reads when you’re not used to reading Fantasy. Of course, some love Fantasy and couldn’t wait to dive into it! For those who were a little hesitant, we all agreed it was so easy to read! I can’t put my finger on why – someone suggested it was the writing style and said it helped with reading a different world because the style still felt contemporary. The world, though rather different from our own, felt very relatable. That’s such a great part of fantasy; making a situation or a world feel so real and so human. A few people commented that this element is what made such an impact.
We spoke about our favourite characters and the top favourite differed person to person. Some of the common favourites/most loved were Zelle, Lill, Aoki and Kenzo. They all have good hearts and express it in different ways, something which we all appreciated. As someone said, they all have great personalities and backstories – even if their personal story isn’t delved into much, we still get the vibe that there is a lot to be said. The characters were very complex and there were not people who were simply good or bad.
We all felt the difficult themes of sexual assault were written with care and consideration, never exploiting or being disturbingly graphic. Natasha Ngan took a lot of care when writing this and it’s a breath of fresh air to see such an important yet frightening topic handled in a way it rarely is.
The concept was so amazing and we all can’t wait for the sequel! Regarding the concept, not one person had a negative thing to say about it. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the world, the story, the characters and pretty much everything else!
Our next Book Club will take place on Thursday 30th May and we are reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky this month! Everyone is welcome, so come along!