Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore


If I could pick one book from the ever-increasing list of books I would like to own immediately, Graceling would probably be it (alas, my copy came from the library and I can’t at this moment justify spending eighteen or so dollars on a book).

Katsa lives in a world where select individuals are born with talents called Graces, which range from from the mundane, such as cooking or swimming, to the deadly, like Katsa’s ability to kill. Those Graced with a useful gifts become the property of their king to use as he sees fit. King Randa, Katsa’s uncle, sees the potential in his niece and uses her to do his dirty work around the kingdom. If the burden of her Grace and the bondage her uncle keeps her in wasn’t enough, Katsa and other Gracelings, being easily recongnized by their two colored eyes, are feared by those they come in contact with and are largely ostracized from society.

Katsa, however, refuses to become a mindless killer and strives to come to terms with her Grace through her work in a secret Council and her relationship with the Graceling prince, Po.

Cashore has truly crafted a beautiful book and while readers might not be able to identify with the situations Katsa is in, they will certainly empathize with her struggles and admire her strength of character. Also, can I have a Po of my very own? I love that he is a well-developed character, a trait that seems rare among today’s romantic heroes. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, but also is able to ground Katsa with his wisdom and complimentary Grace. It doesn’t hurt that I imagined a younger Gerard Butler in my head as I read the book (if you’ve seen Gerry in P.S. I Love You, you know how well he would fit this role).

While I may not agree with Katsa’s views on marriage and family, I can certainly see why she would develop them. Freedom becomes precious to her, as she was denied it her whole life by her uncle, and I can understand how she could equate marriage and all that it entails as something that will take away her dearly bought independence. While I would wish that as her relationship with Po grows and is strengthened, she would begin to see marriage as less of a burden, but I can’t see Cashore changing Katsa’s ways (I’m glad she would choose to stay consistent with her character development). There are some books I read that I don’t agree with every belief of each character or the choices they make, but I’m still able to see the literary merit of the book.* Graceling falls into that category.


*Some books and authors take this too far, though, and I have to put the book down (or throw it across the room, if it goes far enough against my beliefs). Philip Pullman, I’m looking at you.


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This entry was posted on February 12, 2009 by in Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror), Young Adult Fiction and tagged , , , , .


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