11 June, 2017

REVIEW: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Harcourt
Release: 2008
Source: Physical copy/Audiobook
Pages: 471

// Goodreads // BookDepository //

SYNOPSIS: 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...


EXPECTATIONS: This book was recommended by a classmate of my English 12 class who was kind enough to guide me through the class itself and through the library (it was big!) at the beginning of my exchange year in the USA. She recommended it to me because I liked The Hunger Games series, again... those books just opened the door for so many others! I was expecting a strong princess, killing, romance etc and indeed there was all of that but not the way I thought.

THE WORLD: Let's see, the story takes place in a land divided in 7 kingdoms, 6 of them inland and 1 is an island (see map below). In this world of Kingdoms we have, of course, conflicts between the kings and we have magic. Sort of. Gracelings are people born with a special power but it can be anything, it can go from being a super talented singer to breathing under water for ling periods of time, etc. Summarizing: if you're a Graceling you could have a really cool superpower or a useless one. A curious thing about Gracelings is that they are distinguishable from other people because their eyes change color and each eye acquires a different one! For example, they are born with normal blue/brown/green eyes but suddenly at a certain age, and it can be at any age, change to one violet eye and the other amber. I think they can be born Gracelings as well but the majority just acquire the power (called Grace) later on.

CHARACTERS: Katsa, the main character, lost her parents when she was 8 years old and was raised by her uncle since and turns out her uncle is the king so she was raised at the palace. However, she was only kept there because she is a Graceling and Katsa's power is to be able to kill. She's fast, silent, strong, skilled, just a perfect killer so her uncle had used her for his own benefit. Katsa is tired of being used so she breaks free from her uncle and goes on a mission to find a missing noble from the island kingdom along with Po, who is a prince from said kingdom. I say a prince because he is in fact the youngest so his older brother will be king one day and not him. Anyway, Prince Po is also a Graceling and his power is quite mysterious at first... I'll just say there's a plot-twist but no spoilers.

GOOD: The book counts with various elements I really liked such as Katsa and Po, those two kill me every time because they're too awesome, and the fighting is not too graphical or gore but is definitely more adventure oriented and *drum rolls* romance!

ROMANCE: There is some romance but it is more real than in other books... it happens over time and it is not too cheesy so it is an enjoyable love story. A short story because the book doesn't focus on it nor does Katsa focus too much on it either because she knows what her priorities are.

BAD: Hmm... my only minus was the bit slow at the beginning but other than that I really enjoyed it. Oh just as a warning this book was released in 2008 before all the YA hype and I've seen people say this is a "copycat" book which is not true. The "copycats" are the rest.

OVERALL: I gave Graceling 4.5 stars because I felt like the beginning was a bit slow and there is vital information missing from the kingdoms and how they work basically. Other than that I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to all Fantasy and YA fans who also like books similar to The Hunger Games and The Selection but with a bit more of adventure.

NOTE: There are two more books in the series called Fire and Bitterblue which are connected but is not a continuation from this one! Katsa and Po may appear but are not main characters :(


EXPECTATIONS: Laura has been promoting this book at some point and I put it on my TBR. However, it took another friend of mine to ask for it to actually get me to read it. Also just let me tell you, the audiobook of Graceling is awful. worst way of voicing ever! I took me three tries to actually get through it!

THE WORLD: I consider this book to be a fantasy one because the world has this fancy fantasy style. There is a king, lords and fighters and on to of that there are Gracelings - people born with special powers. Some of them can predict weather, some can hear minds and some are extremely good at surviving aka killing others. The trademark however usually is their eye colour tho not always, so be aware! Anyways I liked the world of this book, it reminded me a lot of my beloved high fantasy books and there was a bit of running which was always a pleasure to read. 

CHARACTERS: Our main character is called Katsa and she is a graceling. She has an ability to kill but because she is a niece of a king instead of being killed she is used as a weapon. However, despite of being used all her life Katsa is pretty strong female, she stands up for herself and loudly expresses her intentions to not marry or ever have kids. This was really refreshing because stories set in this kind of high fantasy setting usually do not address such issues. However, to be sadness eventually Katsa becomes yet just another female in love and all her strong views somehow evaporate. Kinda gives a message that you only not want to marry or have children only till you really fall in love which we all know is bullshit. So yeah...that was a huge disappointment. I mean sure Katsa didn't exactly say oh now I wanna marry and have babies but it was obvious from the way author wrapped things up. Then what YA book without a male hero right? This is sarcasm by the way, I would love a book about a strong female who does not need a male to save her, how is this different from disney prince saving a princess stories I don't know but somehow we only critique disney. Anyways, this hero male is called Po, bit funny because in German Po means butt :D But oh well, Mister Butt was not really to my liking. Mainly because he was just another typical male prince that saves the day by being making you pity him. I don't know, maybe I need to start reading different books. 

ROMANCE: My friend has pointed out when she was reading this book that the author has publicly said some things about sex, like if the girl is a virgin and she is hurting the really caring man would stop and similar things. Well you might say what you want but that was not the case in Graceling, frankly the sex scene was super awkward :D I kinda miss books that did not have sex scenes in them because so far all of them have been horribly written. I mean come on, if I wanted some fantasy sex I would just got for an erotic book, I want adventure not awkward sex scenes. 

GOOD: I liked Katsa in the beginning when she was really being a good lead female character. Strong and inspiring, not scared to voice her opinion on things that even today some people are scared to say. Also presence of Graceling was a nice touch, not necessary unique but what really is by this point?

BAD: I think around middle of the book it became really boring, not because of lack of action but it just started to repeat other hundred books I have read. 

OVERALL: It was alright but not great. Also the audiobook was horrible but that is another thing. As for story itself I give 3 stars and just really do not see myself reading another book of this series in the future. 

What do you think about GRACELING?