Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
How in the world did it take me so long to read this one!!! I ordered all three books in the series just before BITTERBLUE was about to be released, in hopes of having something good once I finished INSURGENT. And let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed!
I flew through GRACELING and would've read it much faster, had there not been so many pages that I had to re-read, then read again, because I loved the interaction between Katsa and Po! It's been a loooooong time since I've done that.
The world building that Kristin Cashore invites us into, I thought was brilliant. Reminiscent of Narnia, everything about the seven kingdoms unfolds around you - begging you to smell the dirt and the trees, feel the cold and the snowflakes, or get sick on the high seas with Bitterblue.
And then there's Katsa.
Katsa is exactly the heroine I've been waiting for. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love Katniss - and Tris is right up there for me, too...but there's something about how raw and explosive Katsa is, that I completely relate to. She's strong and determined, yet stubborn and short-fused. Everything about her made the perfect lead character, and her flaws made her that much stronger.
And Po. Oh, Po. I loved this character from the very first page he showed up - and I just knew he was going to turn Katsa's world upside down. Not only was he laid-back and observant, but he was also incredibly humble...something which helped to ground Katsa, whether she wanted it or not.
All of the other characters in the book were well-written, focused, and rounded out the story completely: Bitterblue who offered her youth with charm and charisma, Raffin, with his fierce loyalty, Randa - Katsa's last blood relative - who deserved more punishment than he got, for how he used her...and of course, King Leck. This character was written so well, I wanted to kill him myself - and his cruelty to animals and children alone, made him the ultimate villain.
If I had to come up with any criticism for GRACELING, I'd say maybe it was a little slow at the beginning, but that's stretching to come up with something. I really enjoyed this book and the journey it took me on - and I'm very much looking forward to what comes next, with FIRE and BITTERBLUE. Stay tuned for my reviews!
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Graceling by Kristin Cashore