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, and in her case horrifying, 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. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace — or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away... a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
Details: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, 471 pages, 4.15 stars on Goodreads
My Thoughts: Fantasy is a turn-off for me. I mean, I love urban fantasy and even paranormal can be good - Whispers, Beautiful Creatures, I love books like those. But for some reason, I really don't like epic fantasies - the kind that take place in other worlds with characters that have unique names. I'm not even sure why this is so. I remember that when I was a kid, fantasy was my absolute most favorite genre ever, and somehow, that changed around age nine or ten. I liked Harry Potter, but not Lord of the Rings. Warriors was great, but Eragon, not so much. That's why I was hesitant to read Graceling.
I am glad I read it, however, because Graceling really wasn't like Lord of the Rings or Eragon - it was a lighter kind of fantasy, which made it a lot easier for me. The premise was intriguing, what with having the main character, Katsa, be Graced with killing. I liked how real Katsa was; she was tough and strong, but also struggled with the fact that she, you know, is a super-talented killer. What really disappointed me, though, was (spoiler, highlight to read) that she turned out not to be graced with killing, but survival. I don't know, that just seemed like such a cop-out to me. The killing grace was very interesting, in my opinion, and I would have preferred if she just came to terms with that. (spoilers over)
Then there's Po. Sweet, amazing Po. He really was a great love interest, and I liked him, and of course Po and Katsa were amazing together, but I disliked the romance. It seemed a little strange to me. Katsa was having this huge fuss about how she couldn't marry him lest she lose her freedom, but she really wanted to do him, so their solution was that she could do him and not be married. I'm sorry, but what? I thought it would have been a lot sweeter if she realized that she wouldn't lose her freedom by marrying him. I mean, girl power's great, all that good stuff, but this was just sort of weird.
The other thing I didn't like so much was Bitterblue. That girl did not sound like a ten-year-old when she spoke. I understand that she's very mature for her age, given what she had to go through, but she still sounded a lot more like a sixteen-year-old. However, the fact that Bitterblue was so cute and adorable definitely made up for that, and she was my second-favorite character (Po being my favorite-favorite).
Graceling was a great book, of course - my review has been a little negative so far, but I did honestly enjoy reading it, and I don't regret picking it up. I love the concept of the Seven Kingdoms, and the Graces are very, very cool. It was quite neat how Kristin Cashore even tied in eye color to that - if you have two eyes of different color, that means you're Graced. So while this wasn't a bad book, and I liked it, I'm not in any hurry to read the second one in the series.
Plot - 3/5
Characters - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Impact - 1.5/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5
Overall - 54% = C+