Graceling — Kristin Cashore
In a world of seven kingdoms where kings can be allies or foes, children born with two different colors of eyes are feared. They are called Gracelings—they possess certain talents superior from a normal human—ranges from the most worthless (e.g. holding breath for a long time, talking backwards) to the most valuable ones (e.g. combat skills, mind reading).
Considering being the King’s niece, Katsa didn’t live with much privilege. Graced with the capability to kill with her own bare hands, Katsa was commissioned to be the King’s thug—killing and punishing anyone who gets into his way. Unhappy with this arrangement, Katsa didn’t want to simply become his uncle’s lapdog. She forms a secret council that tends to help people from various kingdoms. And then she meets Po…
Graceling is a terrific debut-novel coming from Kristin Cashore. The fictional universe that she created vividly surfaces from every page. Flipping through those pages means delineating the actual setting before your eyes, or implanting your physical self within the confines of that world where you can see, touch, and feel everything—more like an out of body experience. Fantasy-fueled and adventure-stricken, the premise is noteworthy of praise due to the ingenious and inventive storyline. Nothing seems so much like it, yes? Our protagonist embodies a strong female heroine rather than the usual favored damsel in distress. Not that needing someone is such a bad thing, but women who regard themselves equal—unnecessarily superior—to men are remarkably imposing.
What is YA if there’s no romance, eh?
Katsa already asserted (she loves bragging about it) that she doesn’t want to marry and bear kids; even fall in love. But meeting Po; she didn’t meant to fall for him.
The romance wasn’t love at first sight nor was it hurried; in fact, both didn’t regard each other as love interests but fighting comrades. And somehow in all of this struggle and resistance, a temptuous love foments. I liked that they didn’t fall in love instantly but little by little.
It was also impressive how Kristin Cashor introduced Graces—that it can be an advantage and a burden as well.
Much to my regret, not everything in this book favored me. I feel that Cashore unintentionally granted readers to take a peek on her feminism beliefs. Real feminism otherwise doesn’t suggest dismissing femininity—skirts or wearing your hair long, marrying, child-bearing. A woman who wears skirts, style their hair, marry, or have children doesn’t necessarily mean that they are weak. Just because you’re wearing a skirt doesn’t mean you’re less likely to perform efficiently as a feminist. Can a skirt take away your strong-willed demeanor and determination? Hell no. Being strong, thinking independently—those sounds better.
And for some reason, there’s a part where the writer seemed to be obsessed with her surroundings—from what time they slept and rose, to what they had for breakfast, etc.—pointless details that doesn’t amount to anything. Add to that the slow pacing on the mountain with Bitterblue.
My biggest complaint so far was that the villain only appeared twice, extremely brief, and would’ve been fleshed out more. He was a very evil man but was killed easily. I would have preferred a difficult and struggling battle but there wasn’t any of that.
The bottom line is: I devoured this book and engaged myself in every scene. With or without the flaws, it was still amazing and the ingenuity is a big thumbs up for me.