Review: Graceling


Graceling by Kristin Cashore
◆ Read January 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ 

❝ 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...
I had really high hopes for this book, mainly because all my Goodreads friends loved it.  While it really is a good read and in some aspects different from other YA novels, it did not dazzle me quite as much as I expected

One of the pro's of Graceling is that it offers a sense of originality that is hard to find in fantasy books these days. The reader will quickly learn that some people in the Seven Kingdoms are "graced" with a specific trait that they excel in. Gracelings are recognized by their two different eye colors. Though their graces are often useful, they are usually treated with contempt by non-gracelings. This whole concept stunned me when I first started reading. It's unlike anything I've read before and I praise Cashore for not only the originality of the concept, but how utterly interesting it is too. A concept like this has a lot of potentional to make a book succesful and the author did it brilliantly.

In addition the book features a badass heroine that literally knows how to kick ass. It's part of Katsa's grace and naturally her king uncle exploits it time after time. The fun really begins when Katsa finally stands up to him and decides to decide her own fate, something I loved about her character.

It is therefore a bit of a shame that I started to dislike Katsa as the story progressed. She became too perfect, pretty much being able to do everything she set her mind too, and doing it better than anyone else could. While I'm fully aware that her grace is supposed to be the cause, it was really annoying and I feel like it was a bad decision on the author's part. I loved all of the other characters though, especially Po and Bitterblue.

I felt very invested in the love story too, despite myself. It became too physical too quickly for my taste, and reminded me of friends with benefits in the beginning, but in the end it was sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. Luckily it did not dominate the entire book either.

Another thing that really stood out to me was the ethnic diversity. While some countries in the seven kingdoms are distinctively white, other countries - like Lienid - have people that are described as having colored skin. This is a big refreshment from the majority of YA and Fantasy books in which white people dominate the story.

I general Graceling is just a really enjoyable story about love, struggles and the will to help others out.  It is -  if not a little predictable -  a wonderful book and I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

4 stars because:
✓Original and interesting concept
✓Strong main character
✗If only she were not so perfect
✓Ethnic diversity
✓ Sweet love story

 

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