Well, I liked Graceling just enough to try the next one in the series. Only this one is a prequel of sorts, with only one character from Graceling making an appearance (a super creepy young Leck).
This book seems pretty grown up for a young adult fantasy novel. Fire, the 17 year old "monster" girl is so stunning that nearly every single person she meets is consumed with lust for her. Not super interesting, Ms. Cashore. I don't care. Or, really, Cashore doesn't give you a reason to care. Fire is gorgeous, tough, emotionally withdrawn, and all conflicted about her mind reading powers. Yeah, join the club. Seriously, there isn't a thing about this girl you can identify with.
It was just kind of boring, or plain uncomfortable - for any number of reasons. Fire sleeping with Archer and then being very annoyed that he loves her (yeah, Fire, what a jerk!), Fire menstruating and driving all the monster animals wild within miles of her.
Overall, not a terrible story, but a pretty bad heroine. I'm sorry to say that I've seen more engaging heroines on that damn Barbie video my 4 year old wants to watch all the time.