The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Elisa is one of the Chosen, a special gift that occurs only once in each generation. She was gifted with a Godstone in her navel on her naming day and is supposed to do something amazing. For a chubby teenager who is constantly living in her older sister’s shadow, this seems fairly unlikely. Adventure awaits her, in the form of an arranged marriage and an approaching enemy army. From a palace life full of intrigue and backstabbing to the blasting heat of the desert and mountain villages, there is no adventure that remains hidden from Elisa as well as her friends and enemies.
This is a wonderful story set in a magical world where religion and sorcery are both mysteries that no one seems to truly understand. The characters are easy to identify with and Elisa discovers the strength within herself as the story develops. With so many books catering to young adults this is a refreshing change from high school drama. There is plenty of angst, but it never slows the narrative down and is very honest. Rae Carlson has a true grasp of what young people think and feel, especially in uncomfortable situations, and the scenes are never forced.
I had a problem initially with the first person present tense but I know that is a more common writing style in young adult literature. I understand the reasoning as it does pull young people into the story faster and it did not hamper my reading. I have recommended this to my teen daughter and I know she will enjoy reading it.