Wednesday, 24 March 2010

BOOK: Graceling (Cashore)

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Pages: 471
Quick Review: Really good
Published: 2008
First Line: "In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind"

Synopsis: In Katsa's world some people are born with extraordinary skills, called Graces. These Gracelings are both feared and exploited for their skills. Katsa is a Graceling and has a skill that even she despises ... the Grace of killing. She lives with her uncle, King Randa, who uses Katsa's skills to torture and murder people who disobey him. She has spent her entire life in service to her uncle. She has hardly any friends and sees no real future for herself except to do her uncle's bidding.

Secretly Katsa has started up an organization which tries to save people from injustices ... often times she has to thwart the desires of her own uncle. During one of these rescues, she saves an old Leinid King. During the rescue she meets a Leinid young man who is graced in fighting. When this man shows up at her uncle's castle, Katsa is surprised to learn that this young man, named Po, is the grandson of the king she rescued.

At first Katsa is very tentative to get to know Po but eventually they find that they have a lot in common and start to train together. Not only do her and Po become close friends but he helps her to truly understand her Grace. This knowledge comes in handy when she decides that she's finally had enough of killing for her uncle. She decides to follow her own free will. She and Po embark on a journey to eradicate a secret that could destroy all 7 kingdoms of their world with words alone.

My Thoughts: This is the first fantasy book that I've ever read. I wasn't sure what to expect ... but I really enjoyed this book. At first it was a little hard getting used to the various names and places. I wasn't used to reading a book that hasn't taken place in our world. Luckily the author had a map of the 7 kingdoms at the beginning of the book which made it easier to picture this new world. I would have loved to have a character reference listing too. Once I got into the story it became easy to keep track of which King belonged to which kingdom but for awhile it was a little confusing.

I enjoyed seeing how Katsa went from a fearless thug with hardly any emotional ties to others to a strong, independent young woman who, with the help of Po, learned how to feel and be more human. I loved the fact that Katsa is such a strong character especially since this book is aimed at young adults. No wishy washy damsel in distress ... Katsa can hold her own and then some. It was actually a little shocking at first to know that a young woman could be so violent. It was also great to see a male character like Po who wasn't intimidated by Katsa's strength but who taught her how to feel and be more than just a killing weapon for her uncle.

Cashore did get a little wordy in the middle of the book which, in my opinion, really slowed down the storyline. I personally don't need so much description of the environment ... but that's just me.

Overall, I was really pleased with my first foray into the fantasy genre. As for the young adult genre? This book didn't feel as YA as many other YA books that I've read (Twilight, House of Night ...). It had much more action, the storyline was much more complex and the characters were nicely layered and not cut out of the typical cookie cutter YA mold.

My Rating: 3.5/5


Anonymous said...

If you liked this book, you should check out the companion "Fire". It's the same world, but the only character that is in this book is Leck, but thankfully not that much. It's supposed to be a YA, but there is a lot of action, if you know what I mean? You will like it!

Laurie said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn't checked out Kristin Cashore much before I read "Graceling" but when I looked at her on (an awesome site for checking out authors and the order of book series) I saw "Fire". Also, in 2011 "Bitterblue" will come out as well.
Like I mentioned before I didn't find "Graceling" as YA as I had thought. It seemed not as juvenile (maybe it was because there wasn't any teen jargon put in because of the era?).

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