Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Skinny: Eight years have passed since Bitterblue was rescued from her father Leck, king of Monsea. Now eighteen, Bitterblue is queen and trying to undo the terror Leck held over her people for so long. But her people, her advisors, are still working out their own demons and she feels that she cannot fully understand just what her father did. Bitterblue begins to sneak out every night, visiting story houses and hearing tales of her father’s reign, disguised as a commoner. During her sneaking abouts she meets Teddy, a jovial printer, and Saf, a Graceling who doesn’t know his Grace. They both open her eyes to what is really going on in Monsea and she discovers that her advisor, her closest confidantes, have been deceiving her. And so Bitterblue’s mystery truly begins.
BFF?: I’m not sure if I was still picturing Bitterblue as the little girl I first met in Graceling or if she was just kind of bland, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with her. I loved watching her grow, but I kind of felt like she was totally naive, especially after all that she had been through. She just seemed frustrated, indecisive… I got that she was just learning how to be a queen, but I guess I wanted her to be more like Katsa and not such a pushover. I did appreciate that eventually she found her strength, but I think it just came a little too late for me.
Readability: This one read about as well as both Graceling and Fire, but it did sort of drag some. I wasn’t quite as captivated, but I guess that’s because it really wasn’t an action book like the other two.
Crush Level: 5
I wanted to like Saf… really I did. I mean, for what he was he was pretty cute. But I just found some of his habits and personality SO annoying. He just seemed childish at times, pouty. He really only got a 5 because there were a few times when if I were Bitterblue I would have pounced on him and at least kissed him. But truthfully, I just wasn’t buying him as a viable, wonderful love interest.
Bonus Crush Leve: 7
I LOVED Giddon in this book. I only vaguely remember him from Graceling, but loved that he and Bitterblue developed this relationship that bordered on romance but didn’t quite cross that line. I mean, if she doesn’t want him, I’ll gladly take him off her hands…
It took me a little while to understand what ciphers actually were (I know… slow me) but once I got them I really got into them. It also made me realize I am not smart enough for all that deciphering.
Return of Po
Po is definitely the “forgotten” hottypants of my dreams. I never think of him when I’m looking for a literary character to gush over, but when he’s around WOW. I simply forgot how hot he is! I love that he played a pretty big role in Bitterblue and we got to see him in more of an advisor role rather than a love interest role. I also liked that he was closer to my age and I didn’t feel quite as cougarish thinking thoughts about him.
Oh… and Katsa’s there too.
Okay, excuse my fangirling… but Fire returns too! I loved how the Dells popped up all over the book, little things that showed Leck’s obsession with this place. But mostly I loved how they “discovered” the Dells and we got to know more about it from a fictional outsider’s perspective. So interesting to see how Fire, who had experienced Leck when he was a boy, interacts with Bitterblue.
Bitterblue’s castle, which was designed by her father, plays a huge role in this book. There are secret twists and turns, mazes, glass roofs, mysterious statues and paintings… I loved discovering all the secret rooms and doors with Bitterblue!
Amazeballs Library and Librarian
There is this great library in Bitterblue’s castle that is filled with books – which is super fantastic because if I ever have a castle, you can bet there will be a library. But the best thing about it was that it came with a Graceling librarian named Death – pronounced deethe – who could read super fast and remember everything he’s ever read. Now THAT’S a super power.
Commencement Speech: Bitterblue was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, having practically inhaled both Graceling and Fire. But this one, however, wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. It was a whole different beast in itself, filled with completely different settings, actions, and themes. While both Graceling and Fire are more action/adventure type stories, Bitterblue deals more with secrets and lies. It’s more of a thinking book than anything, making you second guess who is good and who is bad, what is right and what is wrong. One thing that I loved was all the side stories that went on and that there didn’t seem to be a wholly central plot. While it was a little confusing at times, looking back I realized just how realistic it was and how my feelings of confusion were exactly what Bitterblue felt on a daily basis. For a ruler, there’s no just one event that you can focus on; you’re drawn in every which direction, pulled here and there to fix different problems. I thought Bitterblue’s confusion and fear and hesitancies were absolutely real and I felt them nearly as strongly as she did. There are a lot of good things in Bitterblue that serve as a sort of conclusion or followup to this series and I loved how both Graceling and Fire were tied together in it, but all in all, it wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped and was sort of a let down after so much love of Graceling and Fire.
But would I recommend it? Absolutely!
Yearbook Quote: “Bacon improved things dramatically.”
Superlatives – Most likely to help crack the code
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