Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore
The Seven Kingdoms #1

Most people have trouble meeting Katsa's eyes, which like all Gracelings', have mismatched irises. Katsa's Grace, fighting, has made her into a tool for her king. After she meets Po at an independent rescue mission, she begins to question her king's orders, and she and Po eventually embark on a quest that will reveal unsuspected deception in their world.

This is one of those books that I've heard a few people rave about on Goodreads, so I was excited to pick it up cheap at a library sale. Then at some point in the midst of the read-a-thon on Saturday I realized I needed something YA and easy to read, so Graceling seemed like the perfect choice.

It was actually a little too simple. The plot was extraordinarily straightforward - the characters knew everything halfway through the book, and after that the only issue was how to achieve their goals. The characters experienced little to no development, and I couldn't really sympathize with Katsa's antagonism toward even the people who were trying to help her. Po, on the other hand, was far too nice, willing to bend over backwards and tie himself in knots to make Katsa happy. I wasn't a fan of their relationship at all, and having heard that there is a sequel, I'm wondering what the author plans to do in it.

Besides lacking dynamism, Cashore's characters were also depressingly one-dimensional. (Should that be two-dimensional? I can never remember which one is the official literary term.) The bad guys were the novel equivalent of Disney villains, their motives chalked up to inherent character flaws and nothing more, while the good guys were either pining after Katsa, sensitive and artistic, or basically just willing to go along with whatever Katsa wanted. Or some combination thereof.

The book wasn't a total loss. The world of Graces was fairly interesting, and I didn't find myself so disgusted with the story that I didn't finish it. However, that's about all it had in its favor, and I highly doubt I'll be continuing this series. There's much better fantasy out there.

Plot: 2 cupcakes
Characters: 1 cupcake
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 2 cupcakes

What to read instead:
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Medalon by Jennifer Fallon
The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan


  1. I'd have to agree with the simplicity of the plot and the characters. I liked Cashore's world, though, and I was enjoying the story a lot until it became a nature-versus-man conflict with the mountain... I hope we'll see more from this author.

  2. hahaha It's amazing how people see books differently!! The sequel, Fire, is so different from Graceling that people either really like the one or the other, but not both (that I've noticed). The bad guy is the only similarity between the two... we find out where he came from. I posted WWW w/ Bitterblue, the third, coming out in May. If you are interested... Ok... that's a long comment!!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Oh no!! I've heard so many awesome things about this book that I've been excited to read it...but I need good character development. If I can't relate to the characters, or they seem (like you said) one dimensional, the entire book will be a flop for me. Hopefully I don't feel this way too, but we'll see!

    I love how you did a 'read instead.' I think that's a great idea! I may use that occasionally in future posts if you don't mind. :)


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