Saturday, November 3, 2012

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I thought I'd like Kristin Cashore's Graceling. It had done very well and been positively reviewed. It had two sequels out, so if it was good no problems going on with it, and I really was intrigued by the idea behind it. The main character; Katsa, is 'Graced'. Graced in the books means a talent, Katsa's 'Grace' is killing people. Graceling is very definitely a YA book, but they don't come much darker than that. I didn't like Graceling, though. I can see why it's been successful, but I can also see why it didn't work for me.

The plot's fairly basic. The first part of the book sets the scene and introduces readers to the main characters. In the second part Katsa and Prince Greening (although he prefers be known as Po) get themselves a mission, and they fall in love and carry out their mission for the rest of it, while protecting a young girl by the name of Bitterblue. Although there are two sequels, Graceling is fairly self contained.

I had a number of problems with the book. I had difficulty suspending belief with Katsa, she was unkillable, that didn't work for me. The mechanics of the fight scenes were totally off. I'm no martial arts expert, but I do like watching or reading a well choreographed fight. I didn't get that from Graceling.

The names didn't grab me. Katsa just sounded wrong for the character. And Po? He wants to be called Po? What the? Why would anyone prefer being called Po? Anyway. I did like Bitterblue as a name, though, that one works. The third book is called Bitterblue, so I kind of knew she'd never be in any genuine danger, although I could be wrong. She was a little wrong at times, she spoke far too well for a child of her age.

The love story between Katsa and Po bored me. I'm not averse to romance, but when it's telegraphed as badly as it was in Graceling I have issues with it. Almost from the time Po appeared you knew what was going to happen, then they spent all this time examining Katsa's feelings for him....yawn. Maybe it was because I'd just come off reading the joy that was Chime, and it was handled so deftly in that book.

If anyone asked me whether or not to read Graceling I'd probably tell them to read Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy instead. The theme (talented teenage assassin) is also present in Hobb's celebrated series, and it's a lot better written.

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