colleen the convivial curmudgeon's Reviews > Bitterblue

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
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's review
May 11, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, young-adult
Read from May 11 to 14, 2012 — I own a copy


I gave 'Graceling' a 3.5 that I bumped up to four, so I'm knocking off a whole star for this one. (If you're wondering what I rated Fire, I didn't, 'cause I skipped it completely which I was assured I could do and I don't think I feel like I missed much by doing so.)

It's not that it was bad, per se, 'cause it wasn't. But it wasn't great, either.

Part of it, I think, is that while there are moments where Bitterblue shines as a character, and I like her personality overall, there were a lot of other times where I felt like she was written like she was 12 instead of 18. And I guess it makes a kind of sense, since she's sort of sheltered, in a way, but, still, it was kind of inconsistent.

I also missed Katsa and Po and the others. While the main characters from Graceling do appear in this book, to varying degrees, they weren't around nearly as much as I'd like and, when they were around, they mostly seemed to be there to do Bitterblue's bidding. They didn't seem like real people anymore, in some ways.

But, mostly, I think it was just kind of overlong. It focuses on Bitterblue's struggles with court politics, about secrets from Leck's reign and the people trying to hide them, and those trying to bring them to light. It's kind of convoluted and twisty, and while some of the twists are unexpected, many aren't. But what they were is repetitive.

I felt like we kept going in circles, asking the same questions over and over again, and getting nowhere. And, sure, that happens in real life and I guess that's kind of the point, but it just got kind of boring by the end.

I felt like all the coolest stuff - the things with the Council - mostly happened off-stage, and I really felt like I'd rather have been off gallivanting with them than following Bitterblue around the whole time.

I think, perhaps, it would've been better if Cashore hadn't kept to one perspective and had multiple plot-lines going. This could've made it more complex, yes, but I also think it would've been more interesting.

Another point on the downside was the romance. I mean, I like a bit of romance in books. In my review for Graceling I mention that that was one of the reasons I rated it 3.5 - because I'm a sucker for a good romance.

But this just didn't quite work for me. I mean, sure, it had its moments of frisson and all, but it mostly left me feeling frustrated and annoyed.

But, then, I often felt frustrated and annoyed with Bitterblue through the whole book, so I guess that fits.

There are some things I liked, though. Despite my frustrations, I did like watching Bitterblue develop as a character. I think I would've liked it more if Cashore's writing was more engaging - I felt distant from the characters, including Bitterblue even though it's all told from her point-of-view. Even though there are moments of real pathos and connection, overall there's that distance which seems to come from some showing over telling.

But I continue to like the world. While I find the Graceling system to be a bit odd, it is unique and produces some interesting results. And I like the progressive ideas presented in the book - (view spoiler) (<- Not really spoilers if you've read the other books).

I might continue with the series. It's left with the expectation, at least for me, that the next book will follow Katsa some more again, and there will be more action and adventure and less wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out the politics and drama... so I have hope.

But it's not something I'll be running out to buy, either.
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Reading Progress

69.0% "I know it's called Bitterblue and all, but I'm missing spending time with the other characters. I wish we could follow Katsa and Po and Giddon and all on their various Council duties and less of Bitterblue's internal court and romance dramas. I mean, I'm liking it well enough, and I'm curious as to what the outcome will be, but it feels repetitious and I'm frustrated with everyone being stupid."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Ugh, didn't know there was going to be another one. I was hoping she would put this series to rest with Bitterblue.

message 2: by Becky (new) - added it

Becky Jackie wrote: "Ugh, didn't know there was going to be another one. I was hoping she would put this series to rest with Bitterblue."

Me too.

L. P. Simone Too bad you skipped Fire. It's my favorite of the three.

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