Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2009
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Young Adult
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Kristin Cashore’s best-selling, award-winning fantasyGracelingtells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace . . . and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world. Awards: Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, winner of the SIBA Book Award/YA, Indies Choice Book Award Honor Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2008 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2008 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2008, 2008 Booklist Editors’ Choice, Booklist’s 2008 Top Ten First Novels for Youth, 2009 Amelia Bloomer List, BCCB 2009 Blue Ribbon List Don’t miss the sequelFire, also a New York Times bestseller and ALA Best Book for Young Adults, winner of the 2010 Cybil for YA Fantasy/Sci Fi and the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore exudes awesome. It just pours off of each and every single page. In the world within Graceling there are seven kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms are ruled by royalty. Within this world certain people are graced. Being graced means you are exceptionally talented at something. Katsa, the main character, is graced as an assassin. She’s essentially a BAMF. (see Dane Cook for explanation)
Prevalent throughout Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a feminist undertone. Certain gender paradigms are subverted,for example marriage is not a requirement within Graceling. Women are portrayed as being just as strong as men. Men are allowed to cry. I love that Cashore stayed true to her theme/message and didn’t give-in to societal expectations, especially in the ending of the book.
As far as characters go, I really loved seeing the evolution of Katsa. We start off with a practically feral female — with a conscience, then she sort of matures and there’s some reveals. I loved Katsa’s relationship with her cousin Raffin, who’s heir to the throne, and a part-time medicine maker. I also OMG fell in love with Po, despite being thrown off by the teletubby name. Po’s swoon worthy and quite well-developed. Also the interplay between Katsa and her Uncle Randa is awesome and parts are fairly reminiscent of Labyrinth when Â Sarah tells Jareth off.
The writing by Kristin Cashore is fairly simple. Not too much time is spent worldbuilding, rather you are just thrown into Katsa’s world and trusted to navigate without having everything explained to you. The tone reminded me of something I would read in a book of fairy tales. It was enchanting. I was completely mesmerized by this world, by the intrigue, the self-revelations, the messages, the characters.
There were certain quotes within Graceling that spoke to me.
“Who were they to take her fight away from her and turn it into some understanding between themselves? He should’ve taken more care of her face? She would knock his nose from his face. She would thump them both, and she would apologize to neither.” – pg. 90
I love the above quote, because it reinforces how strong Katsa is. It shows she’s not going to let some men treat her as an object, but rather as a person. I like that she wants to fight her own battles and if someone is going to fight over her looks, it should be her and not some male protector.
“How absurd was it that in all seven kingdoms, the weakest and most vulnerable of people -girls, women- went unarmed and were taught nothing of fighting, while the strong were trained to the highest reaches of their skill.” – pg. 398
To me this says if you are weak, there are things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. You can train, you can learn. If you think of yourself as defenseless and don’t do anything to help yourself, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I totally think this can be applied to real life, how if you are weak in a certain area, not just physical, but idk, cooking, then you should learn and be taught how to do whatever you need to learn to do to make yourself a stronger/better person. Now, I don’t see this quote as saying all women are weak, just women don’t need a male protector, they can help themselves. I find that to be incredibly uplifting.
While reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore, you should drink something empowering. I know when I think of empowering drinks, the first thing that comes to my mind is Powerade. Especially Artic Shatter, I drink this whenever I need some sweet, sweet electrolytes after a crazy workout.
Other reviews of Graceling by Kristin Cashore:
WORD For Teens
Booking Through 365
The Sordid Domain of Random Inspiration
Reading Cause I’m Addicted
Books Not Bombs
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
My Tea Time Is Book Time
That Chick That Reads