Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Graceling

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Things to know up front...

Recommended to: YA fans, fantasy fans, girl power fans

Rating: 9/10

Setting: The Graceling Realm


  • Some sexual content, but it's described more poetically than graphically. 
  • Lots of fighting and killing: someone is shot through the mouth with an arrow, a character is wounded several times with arrows, the main character regularly beats people up, etc. 
  • No drugs.
  • I don't recall any swear words, but it's possible that there are a few. 
  • Overall, I would say that it's alright for around 13 and up; however, there are a few messages that others may not want to read, which I'll go into later. 
Graceling is a thrilling story of a girl named Katsa who is "Graced" with the skill of killing. As a Graced person, Katsa is under the control of her uncle, King Randa, who uses her to inspire fear in all those that cross him. Independent, fierce, and too powerful for others to be comfortable with, Katsa is mostly an outcast in her society, until she befriends Prince Po. Together they fight to take down an evil force that threatens to take over the entire Seven Kingdoms of the realm. 

First of all, wow. My mind was blown by the creativity and utter originality of this story concept, and I firmly believe that Cashore is an extremely talented writer with a good career ahead of her. Anyone that can so convincingly take you into a world of fantasy and make it feel real clearly has "it." Furthermore, she wrote a story that has just about everything that young adults nowadays are looking for: a strong lead character, romance, and action. The main character--Katsa--was awesomely powerful and seemed very real. 

However, I did have a slight problem with Katsa and a couple of the messages that the author seemed to endorse through this character. From the very first we see Katsa as fiercely independent and unwilling to either marry, have children, or be remotely girly. Now, this didn't particularly bother me because that's just what floats some people's goats. As the story goes on, it becomes clear that Katsa seems to view all of these things as a mark of oppression for women, which is where I felt the doubt start to creep in a little bit, but it was still wasn't anything that made me appreciate the book less. Then Katsa and Po inevitably fall in love and begin their physical relationship, something fell flat. Even though I don't have a problem with sexual independence, it seemed to me that somehow this contradicted with the ideas previously expressed. This is also a message that may make parents wish for their children to avoid this book, since it will seem irresponsible and immoral for Katsa to be unwilling to commit, but completely willing to yield physically and emotionally. 

While we're talking about negatives, I feel I must also mention that the climax of the story was a bit dull; it was awhile before I actually realized that it even was the climax. The resolution seemed to slog through a bit as well, but that could just be because I was still expecting the climax. 

Other than these issues, the book was crazy good. The plot was strong, as were the characters. I really liked Katsa for her strength of body and mind, and her depth. I found the first half of the book to be particularly powerful because she is so at odds with her own existence due to her fears that she is just a monster. My liking wavered a bit because of the aforementioned events, but I still consider her to be wonderfully developed. Po was very well developed, too, and his Grace is sweeeeet. I'm in love. And the villain. Dear Lord, what a wonderful and extremely terrifying villain. Kudos, Kristin, kudos.

Overall, I highly recommend it to all YA fans, unless you have an issue with any of the aforementioned things, but even then, it doesn't hurt to give it a try!


  1. My friend says this book is good!I want to read this book! I also followed your blog. Id love if you follow mine : http://gleeread.blogspot. ca !

    1. You should definitely give it a go! And thank you very much! I'll be sure to check out your blog (: