Author: Kristin Cashore
Pages: 471Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
First Published: October 1, 2008
First Line: “In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.”
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The GIST (From Goodreads):
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. 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.
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.
So what to say about Graceling...I enjoyed reading about half of the book. It was interesting to get to know Katsa-- at first. I say at first because she's really someone you just want to know from a distance since she might sucker punch you if you get too close. Katsa was a strong willed, aggressive main character; a change from many other fainting main female protagonists in other Young Adult books. This is understandable considering that she has the Grace, aka a special power, to kill people. This Grace allows her to easily kill a man using her pinky (yes she does brag about this ability), for example. Katsa was provocative to say the least. Although she was disliked by many for being a Grace, she was loved by pretty much everyone who knew her. Considering that she killed people on the command of the King and didn't know how to control her temper, I was surprised about that. She pushed people around and was rather mean to everyone, yet they all still thought she was the greatest thing ever. If I may say so...NOT IN A LONG SHOT.
Anyway. About the Graces. Katsa mentions people can have useless Graces of talking backward all the way through a Grace like her own. A Grace just wasn't very defined for me. I can flip my eyelids. Does that make me a Grace? Would I have been born with two different color eyes? It just seemed like if you had any skill at all, useful or not, that was a Grace. It just felt so made up (which of course I know it is) but it sucks when you're in the middle of the book and you see the *ahem* sort of lazy world-building where you wished more time was spent on an idea (in my personal opinion). I don't like to ever criticize the writer, I just wish it wasn't so vaguely defined like that and it really could have been a great idea.
Things I did like: Po and Bitterblue. Although I skipped a whole 40 pages in the middle after Po was out of the story, so I didn't get to see much of Bitterblue's development, I liked her. The plot definitely lagged in the middle. I just skipped closer to the end and didn't have to read back to know what happened because it went like this: WOW Katsa's powers are so cool and awesome. She can do anything. She's awesome. Po was much more realistic to me. As Katsa's love interest, he was strong, caring, mysterious, super patient and super forgiving with her. Maybe that was his true Grace? She really didn't deserve him.
I guess the biggest problem I had was that I didn't relate to Katsa and that's always a big problem. So when it was her, without Po, to carry the plot, I got tired of it.
It was just okay. I'm not going to read any of the other books. I think I probably wouldn't even remember this one enough to recommend it to anyone---4.0