Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)'s Reviews > Graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
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Jun 17, 10

bookshelves: assassin, young-adult, uf-challenge-spring, fantasy, kickbutt-heroine, warrior-woman, superhuman, psychic, reluctant-heroine, fantasy-romance, too-preachy, no-longer-own
Recommended for: recommended for adventure aspects, not interpersonal/relationship aspects
Read from June 13 to 16, 2010 — I own a copy, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Review Update: 9/9/11
I am going to do something I don't do when it comes to reviewing/rating books. I have thought about this book a lot, and the fact that I really disagreed with the message about women, what empowers women, how they show that they are 'strong' and 'independent' women. I am going to downgrade my rating because I felt like the message in this book was too blatant and leading. It feels manipulative to me, and that's an issue I can't get past. Ultimately an author has a choice of what kind of story they choose to write. I don't have to agree with it. I would hope that they would just tell the story instead of preaching. In this case, there was a lot of not so subliminal preaching going on in this story, that on further analysis, I can't get past. Sadly, I liked the idea and some of the concepts. I liked that Katsa was imperfect. I really liked Po, but even he is a bit of a 'too good to be' true creation that makes the message come across better from the author. I mean, you need a good, kind, loving man who is very tolerant to allow himself to be treated the way Katsa does him.

Womanly strength is not 'one' thing. Like the rainbow, a spectrum of colors composite womanly strength. A housewife with children is just as strong as a woman who never marries, takes lovers, and goes around fighting battles. And there is a somewhere in-between, to be sure. To assume that there should be one extreme or the other, or that either choice is wrong for every women is a fallacy. I don't want to get preachy here, so I'll stop right here with that train of thought. I think that as far as other aspects, my review stands. But as far as the message in this book, it impels me to go back on my original review. I'm downgrading this to three stars.

I don't feel I should change the original review without rereading, so I add the update as a caveat. So, if you read my review, the math doesn't add up with the final rating. If I do reread this, I will alter the whole review.

****************************************************************************************************

Simply put, I found this to be a fantastic book. I loved the world that Ms. Cashore built. The concept of the Graced individuals was fascinating. I liked the way the Graced stood out with their eyes that are different colors from each other, and their phenomenal abilities that varied between each Graced person. And the characters that inhabit this story...well they weren't ones you could easily forget about or dismiss.

Let's start with Katsa. I felt for her. She was basically her uncle, King Randa's goon. He sent her to hurt people for his own selfish ends. Her Grace became something she hated about herself. It took Po's love and acceptance to get her to see that her Grace was a blessing, and to see it for what it was. Not the power to kill, but the power to make a difference. Katsa had some serious control issues. I totally empathized with her on that. Being under someone's thumb and control is an ugly, ugly thing. I could see why she wanted to be free to make her own decisions. So, that was something I respected about her, but it led to a big issue I had with this story, which I will go into shortly. That withstanding, even though I really disliked a decision she was set on, I loved her. I thought she was a great character. Her strength as a person was formidable. Her determination to protect others and to survive any obstacle humbled me. I admired her so much, it brought tears to my eyes.

Po was fantastic. Sometimes I am somewhat skeptical about these wonderful men that women authors write. Do they write men that they feel that women will instinctively love, or are there men out there as wonderful as Po is? I hope I meet one. Haven't just yet (no offense to the great guys I know). Po got my attention, and kept it, from the first meeting, in which he ends up encountering Katsa, and being one of the few who are somewhat of a challenge to her as a fighter. Po has a gypsy sort of vibe that reminded me of another favorite, Cam Rohan, from romance novels by Lisa Kleypas. He has an ease in his skin which makes him very attractive. He's gorgeous and sensual (not too sensual for a young adult book---but it's there alright). He's a great fighter. He's intelligent, resourceful, supportive, and insightful. He has a sense of adventure and an air of mystique. He was a really good guy. I couldn't love him more. Yet Po hides a secret that actually makes him a great counterpart to Katsa, although she has to take time to accept that he can see and perceive her in ways that no one else can. He has to come to terms with his own Grace, and that journey will not be without anguish to him. I overuse the term soulmates in my reviews, probably because I'm the sappy romantic who believes in this concept. But Po is without a doubt the one soulmate for Katsa. That made me more able to accept an issue I had from the romantic angle.

The secondary characters were very distinct and absorbing. Young Bitterblue is a character that really stood out. I loved her by the end of this book, and I look forward to reading her book when it comes out. The poor girl. What she suffered. It was completely harrowing! Then there's Prince Raffin. He was adorable. I hope we see him again and see him find his bride. Oh, the awful villain. I won't say who it is, but he was an abomination! He got exactly what he deserved! No question.

The world itself: Ms. Cashore stuck to simplicity and it paid off. She writes a world that looked a lot like our own, but the people in it gave this book the fantasy feel. If you like survival books and journey/quest books, you'll love this. It made me want to bone up on my non-existent survival skills. I couldn't do it justice the way Katsa and Po do. I liked the idea of the Seven Kingdoms, and how they related to each other. Far and above, Po's people stood out, with their penchant for jewelry, their dark hair and gray eyes--their culture was nicely distinctive. They had a Roma (gypsy) vibe that I liked.

The action and adventure were par excellence. I love both, and I heartily recommend this book, if you are of the same mind. If you love a heroine who can more than handle her own, and the combination of a tough heroine and hero fighting at each other's side, you will love this book. The fight scenes are thrilling and awesome. The violence is not so graphic that it's disturbing, but there is death and blood in this book. But, the value of life is very much made clear by the author. I think this book sends a good message to younger readers in how she handles some tough issues such as using power in a way that is helpful and not selfish and hurtful to others.

Okay, now I'll talk about the romance: It was scintillating, completely appealing. Katsa and Po had great chemistry. You knew they were for each other and no one else. You could see why they loved each other. This book does have some love scenes, but they aren't descriptive enough to be unsuitable for young adult books, but they had enough steam to make this book sizzle in a way that would appeal to a fan of adult romances, at least in my opinion. A good steam factor is about chemistry, and it was there in spades here. Also, there was that vibe of a love that was too strong to resist. Let me get into my one and only issue with this story. Katsa did not want to fall in love. She didn't want to give her heart away. She did not want to be owned, and not really to belong to anyone. She vowed not to marry or have children. One one level I could completely understand that, but it also frustrated me. I think Po more than showed he was the kind of man who would never try to own or control her. I think he gave her more than 100% of himself, but I felt she didn't give herself fully in return. I think agreeing to marry him would have showed her trust and love for him in return. I felt she did love him and show it, but I also felt she was holding a large part of her essential self back. And thus, the true romantic in me was unsettled and dissatisfied with the resolution of this book. I hope and pray that eventually Katsa will marry Po. I think he deserves that show of trust from her. I can't get away from my feelings about love. I think if you love someone enough, you want to marry them, and there is no substitute. That's my personal belief. And, it made the way this book ended a big issue for me. So, on the romantic front, this was not a 5 star book. It's more like a four. As a fantasy and a book overall, there is no question that this book is a five star book. But, if you are reading this as a romance, it doesn't quite reach perfection, at least if you are of a similar mind to me. You might not be. You might be fine with this great couple existing forever in a relationship that is uncommitted to the rest of the world, and between them in the sense that Katsa feels she will always have the freedom to walk away from Po. Ugh, it makes my heart ache to think about it.

So, this is the best review I can write. It's so hard to describe my feelings about this book, and I did the best I could. I don't think I can add much more to it. I highly recommend Graceling. It was a pleasure and a joy, and I want to read more by Ms. Cashore.
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Reading Progress

06/14/2010 page 20
4.0% 4 comments
06/15/2010 page 285
61.0% 4 comments
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Comments (showing 51-81 of 81) (81 new)

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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out I never even thought about the marriage/non marriage issue so I'm a little suprised its been such a topic of discussion - not just here but also to the extent that its mentioned in her FAQ's. Since marriage doesn't guarantee a happily ever after (even though Ive been happily married 15 years to "my high school sweetheart") I don't see not getting married as any less a HEA. As long as there is genuine commitment, it's enough for me:)


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) We all have our things that are important to us. I don't judge anyone for seeing things different from me. I just know what I want in a romance novel HEA. I don't think marriage guarantees a happy ending. But as an ideal for a romance, I think it should end with a marriage or solid commitment (as Suzanne alluded to). I didn't really see a firm commitment with this story. That's my issue. I think it comes up because Katsa was so anti-marriage, and it was in the abstract, in my opinion. But I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, ladies.


message 53: by ♥adinda (new) - added it

♥adinda ♥ i have read it n i was...WOW. its so excited. katsa is a tough girl. mmmm...:9. i wish i were her lolz


message 54: by Fani (new) - added it

Fani Great review Danielle! THis has been sitting in my wish-lish for a while, but I'll probably spend my very next credit to buy this audiobook after your review:)


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Ooh, sorry I didn't see your comments, Marion and Fani. Thanks! Marion, I loved Po!


message 56: by ♥adinda (new) - added it

♥adinda ♥ i love po 2 :D


David Hankerson @Lady D- I enjoyed your review and really loved this book! I believe that you will enjoy "Fire" even more! These books have great elements of action, adventure, romance and a little bit of fantasy.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Thanks, David. I'm glad to hear that Fire is even better. :)


message 59: by Michaela (new) - added it

Michaela I loved what you said about women. That's exactly the way I feel. People think you have to be one thing or another, when we're as varied as guys are.

Another thing, we can be equal with men without being alike. God made us way different, but He loves us just as much. Women don't need to prove they're the same as men - because we're not. We should be proud of the way God made us, not trying to be something else.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper I haven't read the book, but I've read a handful of reviews on it that have really interested me. I'm going to have to read it now. I find it interesting that everyone seems to have noticed the underlying story theme here, and the reviews have taken various but similar stances on it, still the differences in how people see this is intriguing to me. I'm may have to read a PNR to see what it's all about.

Thank you for the review (even if it is two years later that I'm commenting on it). Timing never was my strong suit.

(B-{D>


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) I'd be interested to see what you think of it and the message, especially as a father to a young daughter, Hugh.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper I'll give it a shot. Who knows, maybe I need to get in touch with my feminine side?


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Well, I'm not sure this sends a good message about femininity. So that's unlikely! :)


Kagama-the Literaturevixen LethalLovely~Say Goodnight & Go wrote: "From what I've heard, Katsa & Po are gonna make an appearance in Bitterblue so hopefully she'll have resolved the whole issue about whether they got/get married or not."

Not so sure about that Lethal.

The author has stated she herself doesnt want to have children. and I dont see her changing her characters(Katsa) opinion on the matter all of a sudden.

I hear that in Fire (view spoiler)

Its a brave decision to write your maincharacter like that but it gets a bit annoying when it continues to be a theme.


Kagama-the Literaturevixen I agree with your review Danielle. I felt that Katsa got more real when she stated she didnt want to have children.Some people dont,and thats ok.

But I also felt like the reason she didnt want to have them was not so much because she thought she would be a bad parent but more that she was ashamed of herself and her talent.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "Well, I'm not sure this sends a good message about femininity. So that's unlikely! :)"


At least I "HOPE" you are right about that!
(B-{D>


message 68: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (last edited Apr 25, 2012 09:22AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Kagama-the Literaturevixen wrote: "I agree with your review Danielle. I felt that Katsa got more real when she stated she didnt want to have children.Some people dont,and thats ok.

But I also felt like the reason she didnt want to ..."


I don't have any problem with making a choice not to marry and have children. That's each person's own decision. I just think the way she presents it is preachy and doesn't come off as organic.

Writers will definitely endow their characters with their own values, but when it feels like a PSA, then it loses me.

As a person who is actually quite feminist in her views, I dislike the message that strong women can't be wives and mothers or have committed/official relationships with a man without losing herself. I think that in this story, her rigid adherence to this path doesn't make sense.

Feminism to me is about women having the power to make choices in their lives. Those choices are their own and they don't have to fall in line with others' expectations of/for them. The preachiness is what ruins the message for me in this book, not the choices she makes.


Kagama-the Literaturevixen Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "Kagama-the Literaturevixen wrote: "I agree with your review Danielle. I felt that Katsa got more real when she stated she didnt want to have children.Some people dont,and thats ok.

But I also felt..."


Yes that was what I meant. I mean knowing the author holds these views herself makes it seem like she wants the reader to agree with her after reading her book.


message 70: by Skye (new)

Skye Taylor I'm thinking of reading this but I'm just not sure I'm fine with violence but about the blood and death thing I mean I fine with that too but is it like a sad or terrifying amount? Or shall I say taunting in a way?


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Hmm. I didn't think that the violence was too much, honestly. I mean, there is a pretty nasty villain, but it's not over the top. I think you'll probably be okay, Skye.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Yes that was what I meant. I mean knowing the author holds these views herself makes it seem like she wants the reader to agree with her after reading her book.

@Kagama, sorry for the very late reply. I agree with you. Definitely preachy about it!


message 73: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Sometimes, I think, we should just ENJOY a story....I doesn't have to have a "message" or a "romance" or whatever we expect..... I can just be a great, imaginative story! Graceling is a enjoyable, imaginative story!


Kagama-the Literaturevixen Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "Yes that was what I meant. I mean knowing the author holds these views herself makes it seem like she wants the reader to agree with her after reading her book.

@Kagama, sorry for the very late re..."

NP:-)


Jessie I would have to disagree with what you said. The story is set in a more medieval time period which means that the husband DOES have complete control of what his wife does which makes her assertion that Po would be able to give or take all her freedom if he wants true. In the time period of these books the wives were considered to be property marriage has changed a lot since the times when this book was set.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) That's fine, Jessie. I can understand a general disagreement with marriage to the wrong person. Is there any indication that Po is a man who would use or abuse Katsa or treat her as a possession? No. So I stand my issue with Katsa's views. She is a bulwark hanging onto nebulous fears that may not come to fruition in the face of a relationship that is highly different from what she is afraid of.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Kim wrote: "Sometimes, I think, we should just ENJOY a story....I doesn't have to have a "message" or a "romance" or whatever we expect..... I can just be a great, imaginative story! Graceling is a enjoyable..."

I agree, except when an author is constantly pushing their views or message in your face.
That makes it nearly impossible for me to sit back and enjoy the read if you will.


Nisha Very interesting insights. I found Graceling to be an enjoyable, satisfying read but I understand your issues with it. I agree that we, the readers, may have a double standard that is common in most people. Yes, Katsa being selfish in wanting what she had without committing to it was unfair and if Po had done that, there would have been a war on the authors hands'. I enjoyed reading your review as it really showed me what I had been so ignorant of. That said, I still think Graceling is a good read with nice prose and overall, interesting. But thank you for opening my mind a bit.


message 79: by Ian (new)

Ian Very interesting to read your thoughts. Interesting to read the review and then see how your thoughts have progressed (not sure if that's the best word).

Anyway...great review...everything from the original review to what you've added.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Nisha wrote: "Very interesting insights. I found Graceling to be an enjoyable, satisfying read but I understand your issues with it. I agree that we, the readers, may have a double standard that is common in mos..."

Thanks, Nisha. I hate double standards. I'd like to think I would have some issues with the hero if he was that way, and my past reading seems to support that about me. But nobody's perfect.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Ian wrote: "Very interesting to read your thoughts. Interesting to read the review and then see how your thoughts have progressed (not sure if that's the best word).

Anyway...great review...everything from..."


Thanks, Ian!


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