I'm super excited to bring you a YA review today. It's a book a lot of people have read and enjoyed.
It might be a nice change from the romance reviews I've thrown your way recently ;)
Hardcover, 471 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Harcourt
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.
Summary from Goodreads.
So, I heard a lot of good things about this series. And being a fan both of YA and fantasy, I simply had to read this book. Graceling delivered a lot of what I expected from a fantasy novel: action, adventure, a sinister creepy king, and a romance. And great, great characters. So why did I leave this book feeling a little meh? I'm not really sure.
I loved the writing style in this novel, it was languid and allowed me to crawl into the minds of Katsa and Po. I got to know these two really well, and I have to say, I'm half in love with Po. He's everything a prince should be: thoughtful, kind, patient, charming and accepting. What more could Katsa want? Freedom. She is absolutely dead set against marriage because she wants to "own" her own freedom. And I get where she's coming from considering the soceity is patricarchal, and given the fact that Katsa has been owned by her king. So she becomes Po's lover instead. This allows Katsa freedom: since she's not married to Po, she can come and go as she pleases, she doens't have to do what Po says. It's kind of like an open causal relationship. And I think what bothers me about that is, we leave this book not knowing where that is going. Everything else is pretty tied up, but the romance.
Le sigh. How I hate angst. I hate leaving a book on a cliff hanger like that. Mind you, lots of fantasy books are cliffhangers. Take the Pellinor series for instance. Or the Inheritance series. I usually don't mind. But in this novel, it almost felt a tad flat for me. I guess because I have no clear direction of what might happen next...other than the story will continue.
That said, I did enjoy the novel quite a bit. Po was by far my favourite character. He was accepting of Katsa (who really is a bit of a wildcat, as Po calls her) and didn't fear her or treat her like a leper because of her Grace, which is a rather frightening one until she makes the great discovery that it's not what she thought it was. Naturally Po helped her realize that, because his own Grace is so...cool. Katsa is a bit of a scary character, and although I understood her, I couldn't really relate to her. But I do appreicate that she grows as a person from the beginning of the novel, as someone who has no friends, who doesn't understand kindness because she's receieved so kindness in her life, to someone who learns to make friends and how to start being kind and true to herself. I'm hopeful that in the next book, Katsa might be a somewhat warmer, more careful sort of character. Not that I want her to lose her kick ass-ness, but I'd like to see that tempered with a bit of warmth.
And I have to say, I love the idea of being Graced with something. The ability to fight better than anyone else, or to see in the dark, or to tell enchanting stories or cook delcious meals. It's such an original idea and I'd love to encounter more Graced characters like Po and Katsa. I'm also curious to discover more about Po's people and I'm excited that Katsa is going to really start living her own life finally. I have some hopes that this story will bring her full circle back to Po and Bitterblue in the end.
3 glittering stars