Meghan's Reviews > Graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
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's review
Jul 10, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: via-audible, ya-i-d-actually-recommend, guilty-pleasure
Read from February 10 to 13, 2012

** spoiler alert ** My opinion of the book waffled wildly as I went through it. Part of it could be that I listened to the "audiobook" and instead of being JUST a narrator, it was more of an audiodrama -- characters had voices, and they read their dialogue instead of the narrator. Que stilted conversation, overly acted phrases, and bad tie-together. Sigh.

Part of it was that I just could NOT deal with the 'Katsa Fan Club', as I started to think about it. Katsa is a strong and courageous girl. She also is obviously a vehicle for a STRONG feminist author. Which isn't always a bad thing. I'm down with a girl who can save herself, but what I'm NOT down with is a character whose fatal flaw is the fact that she's blind to her own fatal flaw because everyone is too busy telling her how awesome she is. Seriously. everyone in the book just fawns over this girl. And it would have been an interesting twist to see how what everyone saw wasn't quite the truth... but... Katsa just kind of says 'yeah, I know I'm awesome' in response. (not literally, of course. I would have put the book down at that point). Katsa is strong. A good fighter. A great hunter. A good swordswoman. (yawn... sometimes I tire of perfect characters). Gorgeous. Graceful. Lithe. Immune to cold. yaddah yaddah yaddah. But you know what? She is convinced she doesn't need anyone, and will never get married because she can't stand the thought of being tied down. But while she CONSTANTLY worries about forming friendships, she never ONCE takes the time to analyze that maybe she was wrong about her conclusions about not being totally self-reliant.

Now. At the beginning, I almost put the book down because as I said ... Katsa fan club. There wasn't anything the girl couldn't do, and although there was hint of a plot...she bored me with her 'tortured perfection'. Her budding romance with Poe felt forced. I literally rolled my eyes at their exchanges. But! But! But! Then the book got interesting! Characters got hurt! The awkward romance was removed from the scene! The main characters were actually tested and failed a few times! THERE WAS A GLIMMER OF HOPE!

At the end, predictably, Katsa saved the day with one arm tied behind her back, and everyone fawns over her as per usual. BUT I loved the twist that Poe's injuries were lasting, AND that finally their relationship had meat - communication, trial, reuniting. All in all, I'm left with two questions that ultimately kept me from giving this four stars:
1) If women were so gosh darned perfect, why was the antagonist in this novel not a woman? Why did Katsa only fight men? In this stream of thought, wouldn't only a woman villain offer Katsa the true challenge?

2)For all of Katsa's "I'll never get married" thing, Poe was way too okay with it for my taste. It was obviously important to him, and to his family. And yet... she never ever even talks about it with him to consider a compromise, or to explain herself, even after their relationship has progressed. I hate characters with principles that just "are"... they don't think to question them. Really annoying.

overall, fairly entertaining. Still too annoying to me in places to heartily recommend.
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Reading Progress

22.0% "so far THIS book is suffering from narrator syndrome too. I keep finding myself wondering if I'd like it better reading the actual book instead of listening to the stilted audio drama. And I'm hoping this isn't a classic love triangle in the making. Come on Kristin Cashore!"
60.0% "hmmm.... the story line has picked up at least, but I'm still rolling my eyes more than I'd like. Katsa seems to be too "perfect" for my taste, and too disinclined to think she could need anyone else...ever."

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