It is rare that I fall so deeply in love with a novel so quickly. Within pages of starting this book I realized that Lucero-Elisa was a character I could really get behind. I loved her. With it, I loved the journey that she went on even if it wasn’t quite as focused as I would have liked. It was Elisa’s character progression that really carried the story.
It’s rare that I feel connected to a character. Usually, I’m imagining how amazing a character is or admiring how they handle situations when I like a character. I see traits that I like in them and thus feel attached. I’m not actually connected or I don’t deeply relate to the characters. When spending time with Elisa I felt like I could see myself in her. The sense of confidence juxtaposed with uncertainty and self-doubt. It was fascinating to see in a character. The emotions felt so raw and real that I never questioned about would she really feel that way because I had felt those series of emotions.
Not only that but Elisa is a flawed character. She is as she even proclaims fat. That doesn’t mean it still didn’t hurt to be called that to her face. Her relationship with food was unhealthy, not in the sense that she ate more than she should, but that she turned to food as her comfort. It was interesting to see her struggle with how people perceived her because of her weight. More importantly even as pounds shed from her body, she noticed how people reacted to her.
One of the most interesting aspects I found was how the men in her life regarded her. Most of the men looked at her and may have eventually saw her for what she could do, they were looking at her outward appearance. Her husband, Alejandro, was not attracted to her and only saw her as an alliance and a friend. Eventually he warmed to her as her appearance changed more to his tastes. He saw her for only how she could please him. Humberto was no better. Though he was far more respectful and valued her. He too saw her as what her appearance offered initially. He thought her beautiful and sought to protect her. He wanted to be with her no matter her weight. A far better match. However, it was Hector who is true end game. I sensed the tension between them in the early parts of the novel even if Elisa didn’t. When he entered the scene to be near her there was something exciting. Hector unlike the other two only noticed Elisa when he saw what she was capable. He appeared to laud her frm her accomplishments never for anything related to her desirability. It wasn’t until I read the end note in the novel from a blog Rae Carson wrote that I became so certain that the little flicker of tension from Hector would turn into something more.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the guys, but let’s just make it clear in one simple paragraph. This is Elisa’s story. Elisa is tough, fierce, vulnerable, and more than I could have asked for in a main character. The fact that she is a hispanic character makes it even better.
The one problem that I had with the book was that it lost it’s fire as the book went on. The early chapters really shown. The tension was palpable. The interactions were intriguing. You felt a lot and were given a chance to feel. As the novel went on, those interactions lost some of their spark. There were characters that were introduced and talked about who were never built, yet it seemed like we were supposed to care about. It just didn’t work. I was attached to one of the characters that died, I should have felt something. I didn’t and despite a few passages, I don’t think Elisa did much either. When another character died I felt equally as bland. Just the intensity should have felt amplified and instead it was just withered.
I enjoyed the way religion was incorporated in this novel. You got to see how deeply these people believed and what they were willing to do to follow what they believed their interpretation of their holy texts meant. This caused tension between groups within the same religion which was interesting and realistic. However it also tied into the other that they faced. I like how it was all tied together and these godstones may be more than what was initially though. I also enjoyed that there were varying degrees of faith. How even Elisa who could be easily described as devout reached points where she questioned all that she was told. There was never a time she didn’t believe there was something bigger, but she questioned if the interpretations that she’d been hearing were actually accurate.
Overall, I just really enjoyed what this book brought. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.