Graceling by Kristin Cashore

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: 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 first 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.

This was one of the first fantasy YA that I ever read, and I wasn’t disappointed. Honestly, I was really happy I started out with this book. We’ve all read our fair share of fantastically (horrible) YA that was amazingly (bad). In all seriousness though, c’mon. The feeling you get at 3am when you’re finished with a book. Let me demonstrate.

Example: You’re done with a book. You turn to the very back and then let the book fall over so all you’re seeing is the back of it. You grab it, turn it over and stare it for a few seconds, analyzing the over-done cover of the book. You grab one of your favorite YA’s off the shelf, look at both the books, and think, is it really possible for one book to be as horrifically bad as this one, and yet be in the same genre as this book, which is so unbelievably amaz–?

Yes. The answer is yes. Just read some teenage fiction. Otherwise known as “Young Adult”.

There were aspects to this book I didn’t like. For example, the way Katsa acted so lean, mean and tough and then she meets a guy and her character get inconsistent. I liked Katsa as a person, but I didn’t like the way Kristin Cashore swung her around like she was some toy. I hate it when authors do that. Your characters aren’t your characters, they’re your friends. And you don’t push your friends into sudden mood changes, make them do things that don’t necessarily line up with their code, make them prove how tough they are all the time and things like that.

I really like Kristin Cashore’s villians though, and the prose and ideas of the story itself are really interesting, which is why I enjoy Kristin Cashore’s writing. As a fantasy writer, you need to be kind of crazy. Able to envision a new world in the blink of an eye. The ideas presented in this story are actually really cool, with Graces and assassins and Po and Katsa themselves. Kristin Cashore’s villains aren’t necessarily the best I’ve ever seen, but they have good touches to them. Great power, the ability to spark fear in our heroes, a certain craziness that terrifies people, that kind of thing. You know?

The plot line was predictable at times, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The ending caught me off guard, which was also a pleasant surprise. I love stories with good twists to them. This book keeps going on a fairly good pace and is a great adventure. Personally, I’d say that the conclusion/sequel to this book Bitterblue, was better. This is an interesting adventure read that I’d give 3.5 stars to. The companion book, Fire, I would give four stars. Definitely worth a try, but not for everybody. Recommended for girls 12-14

pg count for the hardback: 471

Sequel: Bitterblue

Companion Novel/Prequel: Fire

Overall Series Name: Graceling Realm


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