Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Graceling-- Kristin Cashore

Usually I try not to blog about books that are already gaining lots of notoriety among librarians and other literary types, but in this case, I must spend some time on Graceling.

Truly, this has been a stellar year for those strong, tough, smart female characters that I love reading about. In fact, many of the books I recently have blogged about feature them. Graceling is no exception. Graceling takes place in a fantasy world, no not the kind with dwarfs and dragons, but in a world that feels slightly ancient, smaller, and just-different-enough from ours to be interesting. The protagonist, Katsa, is Graced. To be Graced is to be different, to be inordinarily skilled in some way, to be alltoghether unique in the world. Some people are graced with things like extraordinary swimming or climbing skills. Some can controll moods and read minds. Some can sence the weather. Katsa is an extremely skilled fighter. She never tires, never hungers, does not feel pain or cold, and never ever looses a fight. Ever. She is the neice of the King of the Midlunds and he sends her on assasination and coersion missions frequently. But when Katsa meets another Graceling who uses his skill in an entirely different way, her whole world is opened up and she looks at life with a totally new perspective.

I really appreciated many things about this book. It feels like a traditional fantasy novel, but doesn't repeat the same story over and over. There are scenes in this book that pull at your emotions and make you wonder what you would do if you were in that situation. I loved how fiercely Katsa defended her independance. Although it is expected of all women in Katsa's society to marry and procreate, Katsa ademently defends her rights to her body and life. I really apprecaited that subtext to the story because some fantasy books have slight underpinings of that type of traditionalism. The supporting characters were just as intriquing as Katsa, and I wouldn't mind reading entire books about them too!

I hear this is the start of a series, which makes me happy beacuse like a typical teenager, once I get into a story, I want to read more *just like it*. I would recommend this book to girls and boys who like fantasy, adventure, The Hunger Games, and Tamora Pierce books.

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