15 May, 2015

REVIEW: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Harcourt
Source: Physical copy
Pages: 471

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SYNOPSIS: 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...

This book was recommended by a classmate of my English 12 class who was kind enough to guide me through the class itself and through the library (it was big!) at the beginning of my exchange year in the USA. She recommended it to me because I liked The Hunger Games series, again... those books just opened the door for so many others! I was expecting a strong princess, killing, romance etc and indeed there was all of that but not the way I thought.

THE WORLD: Let's see, the story takes place in a land divided in 7 kingdoms, 6 of them inland and 1 is an island (see map below). In this world of Kingdoms we have, of course, conflicts between the kings and we have magic. Sort of. Gracelings are people born with a special power but it can be anything, it can go from being a super talented singer to breathing under water for ling periods of time, etc. Summarizing: if you're a Graceling you could have a really cool superpower or a useless one. A curious thing about Gracelings is that they are distinguishable from other people because their eyes change color and each eye acquires a different one! For example, they are born with normal blue/brown/green eyes but suddenly at a certain age, and it can be at any age, change to one violet eye and the other amber. I think they can be born Gracelings as well but the majority just acquire the power (called Grace) later on.

THE CHARACTERS: Katsa, the main character, lost her parents when she was 8 years old and was raised by her uncle since and turns out her uncle is the king so she was raised at the palace. However, she was only kept there because she is a Graceling and Katsa's power is to be able to kill. She's fast, silent, strong, skilled, just a perfect killer so her uncle had used her for his own benefit. Katsa is tired of being used so she breaks free from her uncle and goes on a mission to find a missing noble from the island kingdom along with Po, who is a prince from said kingdom. I say a prince because he is in fact the youngest so his older brother will be king one day and not him. Anyway, Prince Po is also a Graceling and his power is quite mysterious at first... I'll just say there's a plot-twist but no spoilers.

PLUS: The book counts with various elements I really liked such as Katsa and Po, those two kill me every time because they're too awesome, and the fighting is not too graphical or gore but is definitely more adventure oriented and *drum rolls* romance!

LOVE: There is some romance but it is more real than in other books... it happens over time and it is not too cheesy so it is an enjoyable love story. A short story because the book doesn't focus on it nor does Katsa focus too much on it either because she knows what her priorities are.

MINUS: Hmm... my only minus was the bit slow at the beginning but other than that I really enjoyed it. Oh just as a warning this book was released in 2008 before all the YA hype and I've seen people say this is a "copycat" book which is not true. The "copycats" are the rest.

OVERALL: I gave Graceling 4.5 stars because I felt like the beginning was a bit slow and there is vital information missing from the kingdoms and how they work basically. Other than that I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to all Fantasy and YA fans who also like books similar to The Hunger Games and The Selection but with a bit more of adventure.

NOTE: There are two more books in the series called Fire and Bitterblue which are connected but is not a continuation from this one! Katsa and Po may appear but are not main characters :(