Mar 28, 2012

Review ~ Graceling by Kristin Cashore

 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.

It's been a while since I read a book I couldn't wait to get home to read. And when I say that, I don't mean it as a quick thought of wanting. I was literally itching to stretch out and finish it, rushing through my daily routine, trying to get everything done so my easily distracted thoughts could focus solely on this book. 

The story takes place in a land of seven kingdoms, including massive fairy tale castles, princes and princesses, kings and queens, secrets and magic. Every so often, a child is born; this child grows into eyes of two different colors ~ they possess, or more accurately, are graced with  an extraordinary quality that sets them apart from the norm. In Katsa's case, she can kill any man that crosses her path, maim him with a flick of her wrist, and is used to do so by her king. Until she meets Po, who allows her to see that her strength isn't only held in her physical abilities.

Of course, the plot drives the story, and does so well. Every action the characters take is based on one certainty: words dipped in lies will kill them and those they love if they don't destroy the speaker of those words first. However, I've always believed the characters create the plot, and as a character-driven reader, I couldn't have been more satisfied.

The credibility of the characters is astounding. As you read, you can see their facial expressions, hear the tone in their voice, and experience their emotions. Katsa is everything I could want in a heroine. She's strong, determined, and fiercely independent, qualities which, in her case, could be seen as both strengths and weaknesses. She refuses to rely on anyone or anything but her own sharp senses, afraid that dependence would cause her to lose herself. Katsa's relationship with Po arouses this deep conflict within her, the desire of her heart battling with her need to belong only to herself. What makes Katsa so admirable in my eyes is that she refuses to give up on herself in order to love. Her flaw, at first, is that she believes you can't have one without the other, but she soon learns that love does not mean losing yourself ~ in fact, she discovers that it makes her whole, gives her even more strength, and reveals honorable truths about herself she was blind to and never could have imagined. 

The pace of Graceling is quick but not rushed. From the first chapter, the reader is immersed in action and mystery as the book begs for questions and leaves the reader plowing forward for answers. Nothing is ever simple. The characters face obstacles not easily overcome, whether it is from outside sources or within themselves, giving readers constant reasons to ponder.

As a reader, I was never left wanting as I turned page after page, unable to stop. 

Verdict ~ *Highly Recommend*

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

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