Review: Graceling

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Graphia, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Hancort (2008)
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 471

In Their Words: (jacket copy)
Kasta has been able to kill a man with her bare hand 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…

In Mine:
I’m glad the jacket copy didn’t try to summarize this book, and that I don’t have to, because damn does a lot happen. The book is on the long side, but worth every page, because there is not a dull moment.  Kasta and Po eventually set out on a journey to solve a mystery, and end up unearthing corruption and cruelty. This is a much darker book than I had expected, but it’s not overly graphic.

I have to say I love Po, and Katsa and his relationship is just so adorable. They’re very balanced, each with their own skills and weaknesses (in life as well as in love), and it makes for great characters. And the romance in this book is not overly dwelt on. It’s there, it’s given fair time, but the plot of the book is definitely the intrigue between the seven kingdoms, the conflict between Graced and non-Graced in society, and the evolution and acceptance of Katsa’s skills.

Kasta is truly a great heroine. She struggles with her gift, constantly worried that she’s her own worst nightmare–a monster, capable of the most heinous acts. Because of her own insecurities, there’s a lot going on around her that she doesn’t see (especially in the romance department), and while that was occasionally a bit frustrating, it never went on long enough to actually annoy me.

The side characters are also all awesome. Even the ones you don’t see much, you still manage to become found of. We are given just enough of each character that we can remember them vividly, even 400 pages later.

This is a pretty book, but the cover doesn’t really speak to me particularly. I like that it avoids the face cliche that is so popular right now, and thus manages to look pretty unisex. Katas’s not a girly-girl, by any stretch of the imagination, so it’s great that this book doesn’t look super feminine. However, the cover doesn’t really stick with me, but this is probably just a personal preference, since I haven’t been reading much fantasy for the last few years. The interior is quite pretty, nice and clean and simple.

Final Rating:
5/5 it’s a bit too complex to describe, but it’s really an amazing read.

About Lucy

If you want to get fancy, Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and has a MA in Writing/Book Publishing, with a focus on Young Adult Literature, and a heaping disregard for literary snobbishness (she was an English Major–she’s seen and spouted her fair share). She works as a social media marketer, and has dabbled in developmental editing as a freelancer.
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5 Responses to Review: Graceling

  1. Myrrh says:

    I think I’ll pick this up when I get my paycheck. Even -if- the love interest’s name is Po. It’s probably forgivable (po(or) boy ahaha).

    • lmsoft says:

      awww, I love the name Po, it’s so adorable! And it’s totally a nickname, his real name is long and hilarious.

      But yes, buy it. It is that awesome.

  2. Lisa says:

    I absolutely loved this book! I agree that it’s hard to describe and often when someone tries it just comes off as sounding crazy, but I really think this book is brilliant.

    • lmsoft says:

      Agreed, trying to actually describe it in detail just doesn’t work well…it’s too complicated, and the plot alone isn’t what makes it so awesome.

  3. Pingback: Review: Matched « Adventures in Bookland

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