BEFORE READING: Okay, due to a couple of reviews I read, I had no intention of reading this, but it keeps popping up as a 'readers who read this book...moreBEFORE READING: Okay, due to a couple of reviews I read, I had no intention of reading this, but it keeps popping up as a 'readers who read this book also read...' choice, so I figured, what the heck? I may as well make up my own mind...
Tee-hee. The back of the book jacket describes it as 'riviting'. A comment from Publisher's Weekly, no less.
AFTER READING: Wow. I was expecting a mediocre attempt, but this was actually pretty good. The story was well-done, the fight scenes were detailed enough without being boring, the heroine was unlike any I've ever read before while still keeping sympathetic points, AND she doesn't become a wimp at the end of the book... Very good. And it's a fantasy written in a modern-influenced setting (I'm not just talking about the marriage views), which was interesting without going horribly wrong. Katsa's power didn't seem like a cop-out to me, because she still turned out to be weak in another way. But Po seems to have gotten the short straw in the end, and I'm not really into the idea that a feminist book has to have the guy shortchanged in some way.
It sort of felt like the second half of the book was an abrupt switch--all of a sudden, the focus is on Princess Bitterblue. She kind of came out of nowhere, though it was understandable considering the dramatic way they ended up taking care of her. Still could have been handled a little better, though. The writing style was quite... well, I suppose you'd term it 'classic' but Cashore dropped her guard every so often and wrote 'fine' or 'a bit', which was a little jarring.
When Katsa and Po decide to become lovers rather than marry, I was astonished that Cashore didn't explore how that affected Po politically. There was also no absolute definition of why the Gracelings were reviled (though enough was implied), or much about Katsa's family. The convenient plant that renders you sterile was, well, convenient.
The psychology of Katsa, having killed so many people, was never fully developed either. I was a little disappointed.
Moral issues... Marriage is portrayed as bondage rather than an expression of love. .I mean, WHAT? Katsa's views on it don't change, and I couldn't quite tell whether she was a mouthpiece or if it was just a character trait. This was a major issue for me. I really wanted them to get married. And they didn't.
And there are the many references to innapropriate treatment of young girls. Later on, a certain father is implied to be sexually interested in his young daughter, which was sick and just not needed.
In conclusion, I have a lot to say about its bad side, but it only loses one star though, because I enjoyed it so much. But, if you're a parent, be careful whom you let read this. The 'mature readers' recommendation isn't just there for decoration.(less)