Monday, February 28, 2011

Graceling Review

Book talk: When a child's eyes don't match it means that they have been Graced, but a Grace isn't necessarily a blessing.  Katsa discovered her Grace when she was eight, the day she killed a grown man with a single blow.  When the king finds out that she has a killing Grace, he is eager to use her to punish his enemies and scare his people into submission.  Katsa hates being the King's enforcer, but she can't change her Grace, and she can't disobey a King.  At least, that's what she thinks until she meets a boy with mismatched eyes who can actually hold his own in a fight against her.  Soon her whole world is turned upside down and Katsa is fighting for higher stakes than she ever has before, not the least of which are her life.

Rocks my socks: Talk about a strong female lead!  In the opening scene Katsa takes down every single guard in a dungeon, rides all night without sleep, and carries a man up a steep hill only to get back on her horse and keep riding so she can make an appointment to break some fingers.  Oh yeah, and that man she carried and took down the guards for was a complete stranger that she was saving just because he was imprisoned unjustly and she's the head of a group dealing out vigilante justice to protect the people from their own corrupt kings.  Strength, brains, integrity--Katsa has it all!  The world building is excellent as well, and the plot is pretty fast-paced and action-packed without sacrificing characterization and meaty questions of morality and justice.  I started this book at around 10pm and stayed up until 1am finishing part one and then spent a day probably thinking more about it than I should while being on the clock at work and hurried home so I could finish the rest.  Yep, those are all the elements that rocked my socks.  I totally didn't spend all that time spacing at work swooning over the male lead and plotting out their romance in my head.  I'm far too cynical for that.

Rocks in my socks: The climax was a bit abrupt.  The problems were piling on and the rising action kept escalating and I was looking worriedly at the end of the book thinking it would be a cliff-hanger because there couldn't possibly be enough time to wrap it all up and then suddenly the final showdown began and I blinked and it was over and action started falling again and wrapping up all those loose ends nicely.  I probably would have minded more if I wasn't eagerly disinterestedly awaiting the conclusion to the romantic storyline.

Every book its reader: I'd give it to grades 6 and up who enjoy fantasy.  This book has plenty of action as well as characterization and romance, so it should have pretty wide appeal.  Fans of Katniss in the Hunger Games trilogy will enjoy Katsa in particular.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Buy it at your local independent book store or check it out from your local library.

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