His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.
In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is 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.
GRACELING isn’t a bad book. While at times excruciatingly unexceptional, GRACELING has redeeming qualities, namely Po, the silver-gold eyed boy, Leck, the mysterious king of Monsea, and Bitterblue, the plucky princess of Monsea. However, these three characters were not nearly enough to redeem the massive problems I had with Katsa and the writing.
Katsa reminded me of Katniss. The similarities include name, lack of emotion, and overabundance of pride. I understand that her pride was supposed to be Katsa’s fatal flaw but with her Grace and supposed knowledge, wouldn’t she understand that in some cases, accepting help from another guy is the only way to survive. Surviving is, in case you didn’t know, kind of useful.
Before I go into the realm of ranting, I must say that there are a few positive points to her. She can most definitely protect herself and she’s not afraid to say what she feels. She’s not afraid of sex. She’s entirely herself even if I don’t always like her.
To an extent, I understand Katsa’s hatred and overall distrust of men. All her life, she’s lived with men who wanted to use her for their personal gain. They treat her like a weapon of sorts.
But with all that said, some of Katsa’s comments towards men (and other women) were downright offensive. The fact is that GRACELING was trying to come off as feminist lit by trying to tell the reader “OMG Katsa is like totes a feminist because she like doesn’t wear dresses and thinks all men are superficial!”
That’s not actual feminism, that’s radical feminism, which is not the same thing.
Radical feminist seem to think that their job is to tell other women what to do and how to act. Cashore seems to believe to believe that everything feminine is bad and should be eliminated which is complete bullshit.
If I want to wear a flowery shirt or a skirt, I do not suddenly become the anti-feminist. I become… Lisbeth in a skirt. I know, surprising. I don’t become a women-hating bitch. I become a girl who happens to be wearing a skirt.
But to Katsa, skirts are signs of weaknesses instead of an article of clothing.
Katsa makes any woman who a) has children, b) wears dresses, and c) doesn’t carry weapons with them everywhere automatically weak and despicable. I’m sorry but no.
The second point of trouble is the writing, which if I’m being honest, is pretty bad. The writing style is so detached that it makes you feel as if you are watching someone watching the events of GRACELING unfolding.
As you can imagine, this makes for an utterly exasperating and slow read. When you can’t even pay attention to the book for more than a few chapters (or less), it’s incredibly hard to read.
I can say that this problem gets less noticeable as you go on, mostly because the plot isn’t terrible. It’s still there but it gets much easier to ignore.
Since we’re on the topic of plot, I might as well do a little segment on it before ending the review. While interesting enough to keep me reading, it’s definitely not unique. The plot reads like a slightly longer fairy tale with the dozen or so clichés.
There are a lot of problems with GRACELING. I am overall very disappointed in it. But the book is a fairly entertaining read and as I’m slowly learning, sometimes fun is good enough.