28 juni 2011

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Plot: If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Summary from goodreads.com)

Cover: The Swedish cover (as seen here above) corresponds rather well with the UK version. I like the way it portrays Katsa - strong, proud and lethal.

My opinion: I must admit that I was positively surprised by this novel and I really enjoyed it. Though it is a rather thick book I got through it in just a matter of days. Or perhaps devoured it, is a better way to put it.As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. It slowed down somewhat during the second half of the novel, but not enough to make me lose interest.

The protagonist Katsa was one of the things I liked best about this novel. She was strong-willed, powerful and absolutely lethal and not even close to being the lady her title suggests. I found her journey of self-discovery very interesting and the romance aspect was just romantic enough for this novel. There was real tension between the main characters and of course, the romance was inevitable, but it didn't take over the story. Don't get me wrong - you know I do love a good romance as much as the next person - but I also find it refreshing sometimes with young female characters whose greatest wishes and goals in life don't circle around boys.

Graceling is truly an engrossing read and I highly recommend it.

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