You know how when you read The Hunger Games, (WHAT? You haven’t read The Hunger Games? Go, right now and buy it. Then sit down and read it. For goodness sakes, what am I going to do with you?) how you thought Katniss was the youknowwhat, so tough and strong and superior to any man around?
Well, let me tell you, she ain’t got nuffin’ on Katsa. She is the new youknowwhat. For you see, Katsa is a Graceling, one of the unusual people born in her land with an extreme talent and identified by their unusual different colored eyes. Since the age of eight, Katsa has been able to kill a man grown with her bare hands. All Gracelings by law belong to the king, so Katsa lives with her uncle King Randa and becomes his thug – delivering his messages and carrying out all his punishments. Katsa hates this and to help balance the bad, she creates a Council, who help people behind the king’s back. It is during one of these missions for the Council that she meets Prince Po.
Prince Po is from a neighboring country – and is also Graced. As they come to know each other, to fight, to confide and to become friends, Katsa’s life begins to change in ways she never expected, or dreamed. She learns new truths about herself and finds the courage to break out of her bondage and become the woman she was meant to be. Along the way she makes new friends, discovers friends she didn’t know she had and helps uncover a sinister secret.
And wow, Prince Po is something else. Can you say HOT?
Aside – Have you noticed how the male roll in YA books seems to be changing? I’m pondering a separate post on this, but he typifies this new male character I’ve been seeing emerge in the last few YA books I’ve read. I like it.
Awhile back, Kailana at The Written World and my reading twin, dared me to read this book. This was back before this “I Dare You” challenge thing that’s going around, but anyway. I take her opinion pretty seriously so I got it from the library. I was still somewhat dubious, I have no idea why, but last Friday night I thought “what the heck!” and picked it up. I am usually a fixture on Twitter on Friday nights, but you may have noticed I was suspiciously absent. I was lost in this book! I barely put it down until I finished it Sunday (I had to put it down a few times, I had birthday parties to begrudgingly attend).
This is a thoroughly well-crafted first novel. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought Ms. Cashore had written many more novels. The characters are all well-rounded and well-thought out. Katsa is a excellent adolescent heroine, confident in her strengths but still unsure of her weaknesses. Her growth as a character through the story is pronounced and feels accurate. No action goes without consequences and it has such a satisfying ending. Well, satisfying except for leaving you wanting more! Which, incidentally, the next part in this trilogy, FIRE, will be coming out soon! I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Also by Kristin Cashore
The soon to be released companion to Graceling – Fire
Also reviewed by: