“Before I read this book I had heard great things about it, and I was really looking forward to reading it. When I started it, I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it. It started off kind of slow, but after you read it you realize that it was really necessary because you do need the background and the time to get to know Elisa so you can fully appreciate what she goes through later in the book, and how much she truly changes. Elisa started off as a pampered, spoiled, grossly overweight 16 year old princess who is most happy when she is blending into the background. She doesn't like to draw attention to herself because of her size, and because she feels totally inadequate next to her older sister, who is skinny and beautiful, and her father, the king, who seems to ignore her most of the time. Unfortunately, that is going to change because she is entering into an arranged marriage with the king of another province, Alejandro, and will become queen to his people, and stepmother to his young son. She uses food to self-medicate, and seems to stuff herself every chance that she gets. The only thing that she considers special about herself is the fact that she has a Godstone in her belly button, which she received on her naming day when she was about a week old. The Godstone is only given to a person once every 100 years, and that person is said to be destined for greatness. Elisa is a very devout girl and has a special relationship with God because of this, and I really liked that about her. I will state right here that this book has a lot of religion in it, and if you don't like that, you may not like this book. I thought it was integral to the storyline, and I think that if people give it a try, they may be surprised.
After Elisa has been in Alejandro's palace for about a month, she is kidnapped by some people who want to use her, and her Godstone, to end a war that has been going on for a while. She is forced out of her life of luxury and pampering and is taken across the desert with little food and lots of exercise, and she finds within herself a strength that she never dreamed she would ever have.
When I read a book one of the most important aspects for me is whether or not there was any character growth. If the character doesn't grow and change throughout the book, I usually don't enjoy it very much. I can honestly say that one of the reasons I found myself loving this book as much as I did was because of the personal growth of Elisa. This book is the definition of character growth!! Elisa changes from a pampered child bride into a strong leader and queen from the first page to the last. And she isn't the only one to grow. The supporting characters were so well written that they were just as important to the story as Elisa was. Rae Carson is so good at describing all of her characters that you feel like you know them, and you definitely become invested in every single one of them. They behave in a very realistic manner, even when they are being petulant and sarcastic!
I loved this book so much that I literally stayed up half the night because I couldn't put it down! Even when I thought the beginning was a bit slow I couldn't stop reading it! Once the action picks up, it really doesn't stop. You think you have things figured out and you know where the story is going when Ms. Carson throws you a curveball, and then you're even more intrigued! Every time I said, "I'm just going to read to the end of this section and then I'm going to bed," I couldn't do it because something would happen that had me on the edge of my seat and I had to read to the next section, and then the next, and then the next! I totally blame Ms. Carson for my being tired today, but the book is such a satisfying read that I would do it all over again! The end of the book was such a whirlwind and I thought it was just the perfect ending for this story.
In summary, I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story and I am SO happy that I got the chance to read it :D”