Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review of Kristin Cashore's Graceling

BOOK REVIEW by Becky Lees

By Kristin Cashore
From Harcourt, Inc.

In a world where people are 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 Pince 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.

In 2009, I took an online writing class called Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction for Young Adults, the instructor specifically mentioned Graceling, written by debut author Kristin Cashore. I was on travel for work at the time and rushed out to the nearest bookstore and bought it—in hard back—no less. During my conference where you’re supposed to look cute and professional, I could barely keep my eyes open because I had been up reading all night.

Part One is called, The Lady Killer…already I’m hooked. I snuck Graceling to my meeting in my bag as if I was committing some kind of crime. Instead of mingling with colleagues during the breaks I scoped out the nearest hidden corner where I’d hoped I wouldn’t be disturbed. I even attempted to read it on my lap under the tablecloth during the meeting, but figured I didn’t want to get fired, so I better stop.

Whenever anyone asks me, what’s your favorite young adult novel, I unequivocally answer, Graceling, every time. So I ask myself why, two years later, do I still love it so much?

Number one, Katsa is such a strong female character and role model for girls.

Number two, the medieval/magical world Cashore creates sucks you in and you feel like you are really there.

Number three, the relationship between Katsa and Po, first as friends and then as more than friends, is so believable, sweet, tender, and terrifying all at once.

Number four, the way Katsa battles the evil characters and political intrigue throughout the story, but also how she battles herself.

I simply could not put this book down. There are surprises and suspense at every turn. I never wanted it to end.

Becky Lees

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