Feb 9, 2010


Kristin Cashore
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Graphia; Reprint edition (September 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547258305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547258300
  • Source: won from Parajunkee
 Book Summary

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.
She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Just the premise of this book was exciting enough, but reading this was an experience not to be missed. A girl with one blue, one green eye who can kill a man in one simple strike? My first reaction was-you go, girl! We need more of these! 
Katsa is a character unlike any other in YA literature. It was great to follow her transition, to see her open up and discover things about herself she didn't know existed. A girl who finds herself isolated from almost everyone, set apart by her lethal Grace, a girl that never wanted to fall in love, marry and have children will find herself at a turning point when she meets Po (if you think that's a funny one-his real name is Greening). He appears to be an equal match to her fighting skills, though his Grace is different than Katsa's, one that no one should find out about.

I loved the way the romance between them was developed. It was bound to happen, yet it wasn't rushed. How many guys fall in love with girls who can kick their ass and prove that all the time? Here's a quote I wrote down:
"...you're better than I am, Katsa. And it doesn't humiliate me. It humbles me. But it doesn't humiliate me." p 182

Now, seriously, what guy did ever say something like that-Graced or not? Overall, Po is just too perfect. He is handsome, smart, noble, courteous, a good fighter, a tender lover. Not a single flaw. I missed that sparkle of human imperfection. Yes, I know, this is fantasy, Gracelings and all that, but so is Katsa, and she is not perfect. Sometimes she's stubborn, impatient, impulsive, and I loved just these little imperfections about her. 
At moments, Graceling felt like a feministic pamphlet. Very girl-power.  Here's another one I wrote down, sort of tongue-in-cheek, but I loved it:
"What was the difference between a husband and a lover?
If she took Po as her husband, she would be making promises about a future she couldn't yet see. For once she became his wife, she would be his wife forever. And, no matter how much freedom Po gave her, she would always know that it was a gift. Her freedom would not be her own; it would be Po's to give or withhold. That he would never withhold it made no difference. If it did not come from her, it was not really hers.
If Po were her lover, would she feel captured, cornered into a sense of forever? Or would she still have the freedom that sprang from herself?" p 237

The pacing of this novel is just perfectly tempered. It is a page turner, but not one to wear you out. It's really a fast read, enjoyable and entertaining. The ending was weird. No spoilers, but it was just...disgusting. By the way, isn't Bitterblue the coolest name you have ever heard? I'm looking forward to reading Fire; some characters from Graceling return, and I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Once again, thanks to Parajunkee for holding the contest where I won this book. 

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