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On Vox: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore
This is the copy of Graceling I bought on my trip to Boston and finished on the plane ride to AZ this week. My review of Fire, Cashore's other book in this world, is here: livejournal | vox | wordpress

The Premise: Graceling is the story of Katsa, who is a graceling -- someone who has two different colored eyes and preternatural ability in a certain skill. Katsa's grace is that of killing, and since this was discovered, she's been nothing but her uncle the king's enforcer; threatening and killing as he sees fit.  As Katsa grows up she dislikes herself and her role in the kingdom more and more. Things begin to come to a head when Katsa meets Po, a prince from another kingdom who is a Graceling too.

My Thoughts: I read Fire before Graceling. Graceling was published before Fire, but chronologically Fire happens before Graceling. I think you can read these books in either order, but I felt that I was a little more spoiled from reading Fire first than I may have been the other way around. I was less surprised about the villain of Graceling than I think I would have been if I'd read them in the other order.

I really LOVED Fire, I found myself just contentedly reading it and not wanting to move or do anything else, but I had a different reaction to Graceling. Graceling was an excellent fantasy with a sweet romance, but it didn't enthrall me in the same way that Fire did. I found Graceling a slower read and I put it down more, especially in the first third of the book.  I think I connected to Katsa a little less than I did Fire.  She grew as the book progressed, and she learned to accept her Grace and believe that she wasn't really a monster, but she was less emotionally available and had problems with opening herself up to people, and maybe that was why I couldn't connect as well.  Or maybe the reason is that I read Fire first so I love that most? It's hard to tell what makes me love one book more than another sometimes..

I think a few people have already commented on Katsa's unwillingness to get married. I could understand the idea in general, but when Katsa kept trying to explain it she alienated me more. I don't think I really needed to read that she felt that getting married was too similar to being owned by someone, the way she was with King Randa. After a while, her constant fearful explanations about it made me think she was just a chicken rather than someone who had a life philosophy and just didn't want to get married. Why was it brought up so much?! Ug, it started to irk me.

On the other hand, I really liked Po, Katsa's love interest. He was a lovely secondary character, especially in the way he responded to Katsa and her moods. Cashore really writes some great guys in her stories! Po has a way of accepting Katsa for exactly who she was that was refreshing. I also loved Bitterblue, who is one of the most levelheaded young ladies I've read of in a while. I'm glad to know she has her own book which is coming out sometime next year (word is we also can catch up with Po and Katsa in it too).

Final note: There are sexual situations in this book, but it was written in a very vague way;  nothing explicit.

Overall: I liked Fire better, but it's another good young adult fantasy by this author. Brave heroines, understanding heroes and deep friendships make this series a recommended read. Cashore goes onto my autobuy author list.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other Reviews:
Book girl of Mur-y-Castell - "it was ok"
Book Love Affair - 9 out of 10
Lurv a la Mode - 4 scoops (out of 5)
Jawas Read , Too - Positive with some quibbles. I agreed with this review
Calico reaction - Worth the Cash


Originally posted on janicu.vox.com


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 25th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Yup the marriage business bugged me too, she can't know before trying. But ok shall nto think about it.

Hm, perhaps I could enjoy Fire then
Dec. 26th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
I liked FIRE more. I say give it a try. :)
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 26th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
So it was a DNF for you? I had a harder time picking it back up once I put it down, especially towards the beginning, not sure why. So you liked the action more than the romance?
Dec. 26th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
I think if this had been a book geared towards adults, we wouldn't have been hit over the head about Katsa's lifestyle choice. But because it's YA, I can't help but wonder if the author wanted her target audience to realize THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS to getting married and why those options might be viable rather than alienating. Does that make sense?
Dec. 26th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Hmm, maybe the reasoning behind it was tryin to give teens some sort of idea about other options.

But marriage I think is something a lot of people already have opinions on, even if it's "I am not sure", and I think most teens already are forming theirs. And maybe that''s why there was a strong reaction from a lot of readers about it.

If I think where Cashore really went wrong..*ponder ponder*.. I wish that the not wanting to get married was either explained more fully/better (how is she connecting marriage to being owned? Or that Po and she won't be free to love someone else afterwards? It's vague and implied and I don't know where she gets these ideas from), or less (as if Katsa had decided and it was no one else's business anyway). The way Katsa was so defensive and practically freaks out about it ended up making the argument weaker so the reader questions her decision.
Dec. 27th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
It's been over a year since I read this, so my thoughts on this are pretty fuzzy. I remember being surprised by Katsa's decision, but I was so happy about it that I didn't care whether or not the author was beating a dead horse. And at the time, Katsa and her attitude was SUCH a welcome change from Bella, who's about as traditional as you can get in terms of what women should do after they get out of high school (short of wanting to be a vampire, of course). :)
Dec. 28th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
Oh, right, Bella. I don't know what happened, I still say I liked TWILIGHT, but it went downhill after that. And BREAKING DAWN?! Oy vey, it was crazy. So crazy it became entertaining. Katsa is a much better role model, NO QUESTION.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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