Monday, June 1, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of Killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. When she first meets Prince Po, who is 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.”

I was sucked into the story right from the start and at the end of each chapter I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next. Although our main hero “Po” was stuck with a kind of lame name, I still found myself totally liking him. The chemistry between him and Katsa was fantastic (at least in the beginning). I liked Katsa’s character, I felt bad that she was graced with killing and had to perform some pretty horrible things as a young girl, but now at eighteen she finally stands on her own and breaks away, creating a better life for herself.

About halfway through the story everything sort of fell apart. It seemed that Cashore really wanted to push the “free love” and anti-marriage agenda. I can understand how Katsa would want her “freedom” after having served her Uncle for ten years, but marriage isn’t a negative thing, it doesn’t take away any freedom. So other than the supposed loss of freedom, there was really no reason why Katsa would be so against marriage or children. Another reason things changed was that Katsa and Po came together too quickly, once they decided they “loved” each other the chemistry soon left. Maybe it was the fact that they decided they would just be lovers and have absolutely no commitment (I want to add, I felt too much discription was used for the intended audience)? Or, maybe it was the morning-after pill that Katsa took? Or, maybe their whole situation just became too pathetic to really relate to? I think it was a combination of all three. Their relationship turned from having potential of true love to one of lust and selfishness and of course no consequences for their actions. Its sad that something that had so much potential turned into something so pathetic.

The whole story was covered with violence, and the more I thought about it the more disturbing it became. Of course the evil villain was the most disturbing of all. Although he is barely in the book, he is pretty much a pedophile and has a sick obsession with his daughter, Bitterblue (isn’t that the dumbest character name ever?). The relationship between them was disgusting and totally unnecessary for the story. Although she doesn’t go into too much detail, enough is eluded to that we know what is going on. There was enough mystery and “evilness” in his character I don’t think Cashore needed to add incest to the mix. And ultimately, the outcome was kind of rapped up too quickly and was a bit too predictable.

Overall, I would say the book had a ton of potential and about half-way through it just fell apart. I wouldn’t recommend this book to young adults, unless you want to promote anti-marriage, abortion pills and your typical women-lib agenda.

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