Graceling by Kristen Cashore
The Skinny: There are those born with special abilities, heightened talents. Gracelings, as they are called, have eyes of different color. For Katsa, her one eye is blue and the other green. And her special ability is killing. The niece of a king, she is used as the king’s lackey, his special assassin who helps to convince his adversaries to give in. Her talent has made her a loner, friendless, until she meets Prince Po, who is also Graced. Together they must uncover a hidden secret that threatens the seven kingdoms of their world and, by discovering it, save the people in it.
BFF?: No. Nope. Never. Nein. Nuh uh. I do not want Katsa as my BFF. We would have nothing in common and I’d be scared she’d beat me up if I ever told her that dress made her look fat. All that being said, I loved Katsa. She’s this exciting conundrum; just when you think you have her figured out, she shows you another side that makes you like her all the more. She doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, always focusing on the job or staying alive, but her banter with Po is sweet and there were several moments where I thought “hey, if I were in her shoes, I’d probably do that too.”
Readability: At first I was bored… I don’t think I get too into fantasy world building and the first chapters are filled with it. It’s like this land after this land after this land; the names start to run together. But once I passed that part it got easier and more exciting. The wording is clear and gives you enough detail to help paint this vivid and real world.
Crush Level: 8
This may sound weird, but I sort of really got into the fact that Po had earrings and wore all these rings. At first I thought meh, I don’t know about that. But the more I got to know him the more I was just like maybe that’s kind of sexy. I also feel like he’s someone I could sexy flirt with, which I know sounds silly but hear me out. We use all these innuendos and it would be crazy funny but seriously sexy. Also, just looked up “Prince Po” and, after adding “Graceling” to my query (Prince Po just brought up some rapper), there was an image of Ryan Phillipe from Cruel Intentions; I thought “yes! This is the kind of guy I thought Prince Po would be!” Just with darker hair.
I don’t know if anyone else got this impression but I thought that the description of Po’s castle was very Greek-inspired. The bleached, white-washed walls; the view overlooking the water… a girl could get used to that!
I’ve never actually met someone with eyes that are different colors, but it sounds sort of neat. I loved the fact that this was how you told a Graceling apart from others and that eyes weren’t just blue and green; they were all sorts of different colors!
I love when books feature a leading lady who ends up becoming kick-ass, but I love it even more when the girl is already kick-ass! Katsa was already strong and brave and knew her own mind; her development came in realizing she was nobody’s pawn. Which I heart!
This ain’t no Twilight shizz… Sorry, I just wanted to say that! Po’s mind-reading abilities are so unique and really interested me. I also loved the scene where Katsa is trying to test them out and ends up screaming his name in her head, scaring him half to death. Made me laugh!
Commencement Speech: I was a little reluctant to read this, despite all the glowing reviews for it, and sadly Graceling sat on my bookshelf for longer than was necessary. As I began reading I quickly realized that maaaaaybe I’m not a huge fan of fantasy – or at least fantasy that takes place in a fantasy world. But that aside once I got past the world building I was sucked into this book much faster than I expected. One thing that did surprise me, and that I would warn younger readers of, is that it read more like an adult novel rather than a YA novel. I’d say this would be better suited to the 17 and older crowd.
I found this to be a fresh and exciting read, filled with things that I rarely get to see. It was a nice change of pace from the books I normally read. I thought this world was built very well, leaving very little (if any) holes or questionable situations. I loved the concept of the Gracelings and their special abilities and how they ranged from simple things such as baking to intricate things such as mind control. My only complaint was the ending… was it just me or did anyone else feel jipped? I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this “series” and know that they will be just as exciting as this one was!
Superlatives – Most Likely to Get You Hot Under the Collar for Some Action
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