Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling Realm #1
First Published: 2008
Young Adult, High Fantasy
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, knows as Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.
Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa's life. Yet she remains defiant; when the King of Lienid's father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivaled her own?
The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out - but little does she realize, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...
I really cannot even describe the amount of love I have for this book. Can you shout BLEW MY MIND AWAY loud enough?!

This book came to me in the midst of a reading slump. All the books I read seemed to be alright, but none of them were great. They were interesting, but they didn't hold my interest. I didn't hate them, but I didn't love them either. I was starting to despair.

And then came Graceling, a book I've been thinking of reading for a while. I found it in my local bookstore to my great surprise, and with such a beautiful cover I couldn't resist getting it (and its sequel).

What I found when I opened this book is an amazing, incredible adventure like nothing I've read before. One that sucks you in so deeply that you cannot put it away, because it is as if your life hangs in the balance.

Tired of main characters who are just plain useless? who are pathetic and petty and exist only in their tiny little worlds? Whose biggest concern is which guy to chose - Sweet A or Bad Boy B? Well, you're in luck, because Katsa is nothing like that. 

Katsa is, in one word, phenomenal. It's important you understand this. She is strong. She is brave. She is goodhearted and kind. She tortures herself because of her abilities and powers. She is afraid of her own anger and keeps a tight leash on it. And she is very, very human. And, to me, very beautiful.

Quite frankly, Katsa is the kind of character that makes me proud to be a woman. 

Next to such an incredible woman has to be an equally incredible man. And Po is just that. It's been almost four years since I read this book (and I desperately want to re-read it), and the guy is still at the top of my top-ten-book-boyfriend list. 

He is kind. He is good. He is strong. He is brave. And... he's not without his share of dark secrets. Everything about Po drew me in - from the way he converses, to the way he stand, sits, walks, laughs... It was the first time (since Harry Potter) a book made me see a character so clearly in my head, like he was right there in front of me.

And the romance between these two... *dreamy sigh*. Let's just say it's befitting to two such incredible people. 

Next to Katsa and Po are a wide range of characters, all wonderful (even the villain is wonderfully atrocious and evil). I feel like every supporting character could easily have their own story--and I'm sure I would gobble it up.

The one I feel compelled to mention though is Bitterblue, a young princess at the age of ten. She was so adorable, and strong beyond her years. In a way, she was both like a child to Po and Katsa and a mother to them as well. 

This intense novel has, to me, a perfect ending. It's not a completely happy one, and it definitely leaves you with a taste for more. But at the same time, you know all you really need to know. And the choices which were made were 100% fitting and right for the characters, even if personally I would like something different for them.

And at the end of the day, all you can really ask from an author is to be true to the character he or she created. #IApprove

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