Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Also reviewed by Kari and Kim.

Summary: In a world where people born with an extreme skill--called a Grace--are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she meets Prince Po, who is 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.

My Review: Kristin Cashore’s debut novel is a thrilling success. She is an author with a creative mind who's unafraid to venture outside the normal storyline or give her characters a rough time. Graceling was full of twisted kings, danger, betrayal, romance and tragedy.

Katsa’s grace was discovered at a young age when, in one quick move, she accidentally killed a lecherous relative. Since then she has been feared—and used— as a tool of intimidation and punishment by her King. Fortunately for Katsa, she has a mind of her own, and when she finally uses it to defy a vicious order she is forced to walk away from the life she knew. Leaving behind her longtime friend and confidante, Prince Raffin, Katsa embarks on a journey to solve a mysterious kidnapping. Po, the seventh son of the King of Leinid and grandson of the man who has been kidnapped accompanies her on her quest. He too is Graced and it allows him fighting skills that rival even Katsa’s. Along the way they argue, hunt, and train together as they get to know each other and the truth about their Graces. I’m leaving a ton out. I couldn't say much more without giving a lot away, but there are lot of other characters and plots that come into play later on.

Graceling started out a little slow and was a bit confusing at first, but once all of the history was revealed it quickly picked up the pace—and then it flew. I finished it in pretty much one sitting. Despite Katsa’s grace, and her enjoyment of the art of fighting, she doesn’t like to kill people. She’ll defend herself if needs be, but when given the choice to knock someone unconscious or kill them outright, they usually end up with a grand headache in the morning. I think this really helped her be a more likable character and for the book to stay more firmly in the YA genre. There is some SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS romantic tension brewing between Po and Katsa and, yet again, it always managed to stay fairly young adult. Neither Katsa nor Po know or truly understand the depth of their graces, and it’s especially interesting to watch as their talents and relationship develop throughout the book. I would love to see this book being made into a movie with all the romance, intrigue, special powers, and fight scenes. What fun!

One teensy thing that bugged me was the character's names. Katsa, I could handle, though being fairly close to my daughter's name, Kaisa, I occasionally stumbled over it. But, Po?! Okay, it was a nickname for a far worse one, but really, PO?!?

The only real downside is that this seems to be the first book in a series. There is a prequel, Fire, coming out in October 2009 but it seems that the sequel to Graceling, tentatively named Bitterblue, is still in the works. Sniff. So LONG to wait! But wait I shall.

My rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up in one phrase: A medieval Heroes meets a Mr and Mrs. Smith--a great YA read.

1 comment:

Heather said...

This sounds good. I think I will wait until this fall to check it out though because I HATE waiting for sequels.


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