Saturday, November 7, 2009

Graceling - Kristen Cashore

Also reviewed by Mindy and Kim.

Summary: 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 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... (Summary from back of the book. Image from

My Review: For a debut novel, this really was a great read. There were many things I loved about this book. It has a similar feel to it as The Hunger Games. The powerful and skilled female protagonist is a great role model for young girls. It also portrays women in a positive light for any male readers.

There were plenty of realistic fears in this novel to make the trials the characters faced hit home. King Leck is so sinister and, I think as an attribute to the story, his motives are not explained. If they had been, it may have made the reader want to sympathize with such a horrible person with evil intent. The poor girls and animals you know he's torturing make his threat very real. And somehow Cashore manages to portray all this without going into gory details.

This book almost felt like a super hero book for girls--not just a knock off of the boys' comic book world. Despite the length, it was such a fast and enjoyable read.

That said, there was only one aspect of this book I didn't like. Everything else was purely enjoyable reading. After doing a little research, I found the author's reason for putting marriage in a bad light, albeit in my mind, a rather weak reason. Only 2 scenes mention their love affair (one about a paragraph and the other a mere mention to the act). What bothers me is how Po (main male character) gives up his morals and wishes to do anything to fit Katsa's wishes. Seems like the reverse of the stereotype seen more commonly today--it feels wrong to me. Giving up what you want and believe because it's the only way the other person will take you--neither should have to compromise--is a bad message. The message that you can't truly be free as a woman and be married really angered me as well. Because it's a lie. This is a YA book. That message is inappropriate to tell kids. Everything else in the book was great.

Rating: 4.5 Stars--only that one aspect brought it down from a 5.

Sum it up: Adventure mixed with a woman's lib touch: a superhero role model but for girls.


Tubbs Family said...

I agree about the messaged the book is sending!! I just finished Fire. Worth reading, however Fire is darker and is, unfortunately, very promiscuous. It was also slow. Now I can't wait for Bitterblue. Hopefully it will deliever as well as Graceling!

Julie said...

I agree I loved the book in so many ways but hate to recommend it to people because of the message it sends to girls.
Fire is a very interesting story too but she ruins it again by sending impressionable girls these negative messages about relationships and marriage.
Moms be warned they are definitely geared for a much older than average YA audience.


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