Author: Kristin Cashore
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: Oct. 1, 2008
Graceling has been on my radar for YEARS. I saw all the hype when it came out, but for some reason it never made its way to my reading pile. Weird, huh? So I was excited we were going to read and discuss it for my Writing for Young Adults class taught by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I do think the hype did Graceling a disserve though – I wasn’t disappointed with the novel per se, but I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I would have anticipated. I liked the imaginative setting and plot, but there were still several aspects I thought were “off.”
I liked the terminology and the different uses of the word “grace” and “graces.” I also liked the world and its descriptions – Cashore managed to give you a detailed history without it feeling like an info dump. It gave hints of the setting and explained some aspects while leaving other things a mystery. That was handled well and I appreciated getting some of the information right away and being left in the dark about other parts. Another thing I thought Cashore did well was her use of plot; specifically her plot revelations.
Spoilers below. Highlight text to read.
I didn’t expect Po’s graceling to be different. She had even hinted at it several times earlier, but I hadn’t seen coming and it caught me by surprise.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Po and Katsa’s relationship. I didn’t quite grasp Katsa’s reasoning why she couldn't get married. She kept going on and on about how she would feel restricted or “confined” or whatever, but that didn’t fly. It mostly made me feel sad for Po and I wished that Katsa would compromise. (Because guys, Po is just the sweetest.) Po was the one who was willing to do whatever Katsa wanted and he seemed to be the one who was giving the most in their relationship, while Katsa was being selfish. Fictionally, their relationship worked, but I felt like it wouldn’t have worked in the real world. Po would have tired of being the one to compromise all the time and left. I guess what irked me was that I really liked Po and felt like Katsa was being unfair and obnoxious. Maybe Cashore’s reasoning didn't work for me.
Another thing that bothered me was how fast the conflict was resolved. It was like MAJOR DRAMA and then OH LOOK IT’S OVER. It was so sudden, I almost didn’t believe it. Actually, I didn’t realize it was over, I had to go back and reread some pages because I thought it had been a DREAM or something. There needed to be a better transition or something! We’ve been waiting the whole book for this good stuff and then it’s gone before we can even blink. I wanted more! Cashore had been pretty good with the tension and conflict up until that point. While I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Graceling as much as I had wished, I can still see why it became popular. I might recommend it.