Various persons have been bugging me to read Graceling for a while now. This weekend, laid up on the couch with an evil mutating virus/sinus infection/fever thingummy, I finally succumbed to peer pressure.
I’m so glad I did!
Various other persons have been bemoaning a lack of gutsy/empowered heroines in the YA genre of late (which I really can’t sympathize with, clearly these people are not reading the right books — though I will admit that I see their point when it comes to a certain bedazzled and now besparkled young woman); Graceling is one of those books that is the antidote to the bubble gum/pinktastic/low self-esteem common read. Katsa is mad, bad, and sad all at once: She can kill you as easily with her pinky finger as with a sword, she’s a loner by nature and necessity, and she’s starting to realize that she needs to use her powers for good. You know how it goes, with great power comes great responsibility. So while she does struggle with her Grace (her enhanced ability for what she thinks is violence, but which turns out to be so much more), there is never any doubt that, when it comes down to it, Katsa looks to herself for strength.
Not only is Katsa a fantastic main character, the book delivers more than it promises. The opening chapters were fine, don’t get me wrong, but to my mind they seemed pretty standard swords-and-sorcery fare. A third of the way through, I started to realize that the stakes had been raised, and that this was no ordinary fantasy novel. Romance, politics, friendship, coercion, an incredibly complex whodunnit, battles, reunions, revelations — everything in spades, and it couldn’t have been better written.
Kristin Cashore, what will you do next! I, for one, will be standing by waiting to read it.