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.
So, I first read this book because I had read somewhere online that the story was quite similiar to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I loved the books by Suzanne, and based on the high turnover of the books from the library, the boys liked them as well. So I bought the book on my Kindle in order to pre-read it before I put it on the “to get” list.
Now, despite the female lead and some sentimental parts (which were also in Mockingjay so I wasn’t too concerned) I felt that the story wouldn’t scare away any boys who picked it up. In fact, there was so much action that I hardly noticed the “mushy” parts at all! “Perfect,” I thought to myself. “The boys will get caught up in this action!”
So we ordered it… without my looking to see what the cover looked like… and in my experience with books, covers do make a difference.
Now, let me start with a comparison of the cover of Mockingjay (strong, confused, love-stricken girl lead)
Now, I’m not an expert on graphic design by any means. However, this cover is wonderful in that it is so… simple and not just marketed for female readers. The soft blue colour isn’t going to scare off the boys. There isn’t some girl on the front cover with windswept locks. There aren’t flowers all over the place. Basically, this a book that a boy can read in public and not feel embarrassed about reading the book that looks like a YA romance. Nice job gods of book covers!
And here are two of the cover designs for Graceling (strong, confused, love-stricken girl lead)
The cover on the left is the UK cover. The cover on the right is the US cover. I love them both, and we have the US cover. But I’m a girl, they appeal to my “Ooh, pretty!” genes. To me, these covers seem to be marketed for just the female market. They don’t seem to cater to the boys in the way that the US covers of the Hunger Games trilogy did. The first thing one of the boys said, before even knowing what the story was about, was, “Ma’am, this is so girlie.” He didn’t have a clue what the story was about. After filling him in on the plot line, and letting him know that the story wasn’t terribly girlie, he did take it out…
So that is my gripe about the covers.
The story itself was well written. Katsa is a believable character who we see develop from this girl who is controlled by her uncle, and her fear of her actions, into her own person. She learns to handle her Grace in an acceptable way and uses it to defend instead of destroy. She also develops emotionally. She begins to allow people to become close to her outside of Raffin, including the Graced fighter Po. Katsa also learns that the only one who can control what Katsa does is Katsa. Katsa learns to control her anger at her uncle which allows her to finally escape the psychological prison that he has kept her in for years.
I asked one of the boys what he thought of it when he brought it back. He said that he liked it, but the thing with Katsa being so affected by Po’s eyes was “weird Ma’am. I don’t get it.” Fair enough. I thought that it was a little strange too how she seems to be so caught up in Po’s eyes. Very Bella and Edward. But if that’s the only criticism that he had, then I’m happy enough.
If you want to know more about Kristin Cashore or her books, check out her blog HERE.
Other Important But Important Info
Reading Time: 1.5-3 hours (this was hard to judge as I was reading this in-between bus transfers and coffee breaks)
Rating: 4/5 (the eye thing just reminded me too much of Twilight)
Price: Chapters- $11.99/ Amazon – $9.99 USD/ Kindle – $8.59 USD
Side Note for Libraries: If there is a book trailer of a book that I’m posting about, I always include it…. however, the trailer for Graceling by HMH Childrens (the publisher) is just terrible! I would not use it to promote this book.