Tuesday, July 12, 2011

[Review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling {goodreads}
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 07/09/2009 (PB)
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Source: Swapped
Age: 14+ Moderate violence
Pages: 470
My Rating:

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
My thoughts: 

This is written 3/4 weeks after completion, so please mind the inaccuracies and vague . . . ness.

I'll admit that fantasy usually just doesn't do it for me, but Graceling really whisked me away to a far-off land where I could just escape. I was lucky enough to get to meet Kristin Cashore when she came down to Sydney a couple of weeks ago, and it was for that reason that I decided it was time to read this book. No regrets at all.

At the beginning I was a bit frazzled, just because I was launched right from the first sentence into this mindblowing scene of mystery. It was difficult getting into it because there was just a lot to get ahold of in such a short period of time - characters' names and appearances, what they were doing in some mysterious dungeon; the different lands - but once those things began to set and the worldbuilding had settled in, I sailed through Graceling.

There's this quiet intensity all throughout the book, but it's in those last hundred pages that I just could not stop flipping the pages. Cashore writes meticulously, allowing clues here and there as to where this book is leading to, that just drew me to that huge climax. *sigh* I do have problems as to the details of that huge climax though, such as the villain's backstory, which remains unknown. While the villain is well and truly "unstoppable", it would have been nice to have been given insight as to the reasons why they chose to go down that path, other than "they had the ability to do so".

The characters in a fantasy, for me, are less important than the setting (and action). I did find some of the characters really endearing though - Raffin, for example. I just loved the relationship that he shares with Katsa, who by the way is just a strong and admirable heroine.

Overall Graceling just amazed me in too many ways to count. It's a book I'd recommend for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. It felt as though I was right there, and it's a story that just sticks with you even weeks after completion.

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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