May 18, 2012

Review: Graceling

By: Kristin Cashore
Published: October 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardback, 471 pages
First Reviewed: September 2010
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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In a world where people born with an extreme skill are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

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.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Rating: 2/5

I bought this because a lot of people had recommended it and praised it. I hadn't really heard anything negative about this book. So I was excited to read it, but sadly, it didn't live completely up to my expectations.

I liked the setting, but I'll admit to being highly confused at points. Granted, complicated fantasy settings have always confused me, so it could just be me. But once I got settled into a setting, I liked it. It fit well. It was the transitions that got me confused the most, though.

Overall, I didn't love the characters. Throughout, I thought they were just okay. At times I would start to like them, but then I would get pulled away from them and stop caring. I didn't really start to care until the end, which I wished wasn't the case. I liked Katsa and Po the most, but I wished Katsa was a bit more developed. I never truly felt connected to her. And same with Po. And I hardly cared for (or even was able to distinguish) the minor characters. The characters were just okay for me.

I'm not really a fan of Cashore's style, I'll admit. While she does have some nice imagery and fluidity at times, I felt she had way too many "She" sentences. It made me lose interest a lot of times because nearly every sentence in a paragraph (and sometimes on a whole page) would start with "She." And she interrupted the dialogue too much for me. Instead of letting the characters say a complete sentence, she'd stop mid-sentence and drop a "she/he said" and then continue the sentence. It took me out of the story a lot. Also, I don't think the voice and dialogue were consistent. At times, they were modern, as though an everyday person was speak, but then they'd start talking like back in the medieval days. It felt out of place a lot of the times, so I was never able to really grasp the language or the sounds of the characters.

In the beginning, I wasn't sure about the plot. There were some intriguing scenes happening, but then I lost interest (almost completely) for about 50-60 pages. After that, though, it started to pick up and I finished it in one setting. There were some scenes I loved, and the further I got into it, the more I started to love it. I think some of the stuff could have been drawn out more vividly and other things cut back a bit. And I wasn't too sure how I liked the ending. I felt it was too abrupt. Interesting, but abrupt. Overall, though, I liked the plot. It was original, and it held some very intriguing elements.

Will I read it again? Maybe; things might make more sense. Did I like it? Some of it. I just didn't connect with the writing, and that's my biggest pet peeve.

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