Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore


This was a truly interesting read for me, sad to say it won’t be on my top ten list but it was not too bad. I can definitely see that Kristin is a new author and testing the various elements of writing trying to find her own unique style. Some parts of the book were very well crafted while others felt lacking to me.

But lets get to the book itself:

In the world of the Seven Kingdoms people are born with extraordinary graces, talents allowing them to excel in a specific area. None has a grace more feared than Katsa, gifted with the grace of killing since she was ten years old and trained to be the weapon of her uncle, the King.

A mystery arises in the Seven Kingdoms, one that ties together the fates of a helpless old man, a young princess and the one eyed King, who seems to be both responsible and blameless for everything. And at the heart of this mystery, with the responsibility to solve it, sits Katsa and an enigmatic Liened prince who rivals even Katsa’s fighting abilities.

Katsa finally decides to no longer be the lady killer for her uncle and sees this mystery as her escape, but what will this cost her? Not only does this lead her to re-evaluate her entire life but also to a startling realization about her grace; is she really graced with killing, or is it something else?

Well, now that the scene has been set, lets get in a little deeper.

On the up side Kristin does create very vivid and beautiful landscapes at times, spending a good deal of attention on details. This in turn helps to set specific moods, thought at times it is quickly broken by the events that follow.

The flow of the story is not bad either as it stays relatively constant, however the pace at which it flows could use a little change. For the most part I found it very laid back and relaxed, not quite boring yet but not a lot of action.

This is definitely more of an adventure mystery with a bit of a love story and self discovery tied into it.

One of the things I did love about the book was the detail to character development, and there is a lot of it. Katsa and Po, our two main characters, are constantly changing and evolving throughout the plot of the story, especially Katsa. As I sit here I also realize that in the beginning of the book it was Po who helped Katsa in accepting herself and by the end it is Katsa who helps Po accept the circumstances he has to live with.

Katsa is a very negative person when we meet her; not planning on marrying or loving anyone, she hates herself for who she is and wants to get away from the life she is in, but is unable to do so until she meets Po.

Po on the other hand is a very positive person and the complete opposite to Katsa, but apart from their unusual meeting they soon become friends and even deeper feelings start to grow between them, until something devastating happens.

The graces were an interesting addition to the storyline to say the least, but the illusion surrounding them was quickly broken for me in part due to over-explanation about them. Some of the graces were truly interesting and supernatural but then Kristin mentioned a few less than impressive graces and I have to say I lost a big part of my appreciation for them.

Lastly something that in my opinion was the saving grace for the book is the mystery. The middle part of the book was mostly boring and I would have had trouble getting through it if it was not for the intrigue behind the mystery. Kristin kept just enough fog over the mystery, deceiving you with her words so that you could not make complete sense of the clues you found. I think she could have, and should have, pulled it out a little longer but it was still a very interesting mystery and by the time it was over the story picked up a little bit more of a pace.

Finally she ended the story in a manner that you do not see that often. She gave full attention to her characters and setting out some future plans for them. Instead of simply ending a story with lovers uniting and a kingdom at peace, she sets out the plans for her characters and what they will be doing in the following months. Something she did not have to do, but it gives the story a bit more of a continuation and flow instead of a blunt ending.

Well there you have it.

Graceling may not be my favorite book of the year but it was not bad either. I will definitely like to read the next one, aptly called Fire; I’m kind of intrigued to see what these monsters in Fire will be like. It should also be noted that she is busy with a follow-up to Graceling called Bitterblue, referring to Princess Bitterblue, but more of that on a later date.

So if you’re in the mood for a light adventure mystery you can definitely take a look at this one, just don’t expect a great deal of action as the action sequences are few and far apart.

Good mystery, good character development, I will give it a

6/10

Check out more info on Kristin at this site. :-)

If you want to buy yourself a copy of Graceling you can find it here (US) and here (UK).


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