Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

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.

I read this book about 6 months ago and devoured it in a couple days. I really, really liked it, but was left feeling unsatisfied with the ending. After reading it again (slower this time), that feeling is still there, but not nearly as strong. I knew what to expect from the characters this time and it helped me to appreciate them better.

The great thing about this book is that it's a "non-traditional" romance story. Katsa feels no real desire for romance. She has no wish to marry or have children or any kind of happily ever after. She wishes only to live on her own terms. So she really struggles when love shows up. And even after that, she still doesn't want to belong to anyone but herself. It's an interesting point of view to read from. As far as leading men go, Po is definitely swoon-worthy. He's smart and funny, and a more than worthy love interest for Katsa's strong personality. I love him and his back and forth with Katsa were some of the best scenes in the book.

The most beautiful thing about this story - that I failed to notice in my first reading - is Katsa's evolution as a character. While there is a love story in here, the book is basically about Katsa. About how she grows and matures and really takes her own destiny into her own hands; whether it be her place in the kingdoms or her love life. It's exquistely written, and while I was wishing for a more solid conclusion at the end, it was still a good ending. I am keeping my fingers crossed, however, that in the future she'll write another book that will allow us to see Katsa and Po again. I want to know what they're up to. : )


Kristin Cashore
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
480 pages
$17.00 (hardcover)

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