Pricky's Reviews > Graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
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it was ok
bookshelves: 3rd-person, fantasy, female-lead, library-owned, painful, read-in-2012, reviewed, romance, strange, ya

As seen on Zombie Mommies.

Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I thought the story would center on the adventures of a female "James Bond." Instead, all I got was a bad taste in my mouth. It's not that Graceling was so poorly written: I actually found the writing style and world building nicely done. It's just that...I think I was lied to.

First, Cashore refers to Graceling as growing "from her daydreams about a girl who possesses extrodinary powers--and who forms a friendship with a boy with whom she is insurmountably incompatible." So imagine my surprise when Grace meets Po (the insurmountably incompatible guy) and I end up waiting...and waiting...for the big "reveal" only to find out their incompatibility is due to her being a fighter and him being aware of his surroundings. Now how exactly is that insurmountably incompatible? See...incompatible would be an angel hater saving an angel (like Angelfall). Or a demon falling in love with an angel (like Daughter of Smoke and Bone).

Second, there's the problem of Katsa. Obviously, this girl is carrying around some childhood baggage because she's got some major anger management issues. In one scene she "swung at (Po's) jaw with the side of her hand" bruising his jaw because she didn't like what he was saying about King Randa's hold over her. Whhhaat?! In another, she refuses to understand Po's reason for keeping his Grace a secret. Is she really that clueless? Of course, she eventually comes to her senses and end up in his arms.

Which comes to my second point: a lover or a husband? While Katsa has her own view on what these two definitions mean: freedom or imprisonment, what it really boils down to is commitment. There's just something that doesn't feel right with Katsa and Po's relationship. Basically, she wants to be with Po but without being tied to him and all it requires..."For once she became his wife, she would be his wife forever. Her freedom would not be her own." and "How will you feel if I'm forever leaving? If one day I give myself to you and the next I take myself away--with no promises to return?" It just seems to me that if you are in a relationship (married or not), there should be a certain level of commitment: loyalty, sacrifice...If the tables were turned and Katsa were a man, he most certainly would be considered a player.

My biggest disappoint is that the messages of feminism are poorly characterized in Katsa. Does Katsa have to behave like a stereotypical man (or feminist) in order to further the feminist movement? If a man hit a woman or didn't commit to a relationship, would we honor him for using his manhood? So why should it be okay for Katsa to behave this way? That's not what feminism is about: it's about embracing womanhood and striving for equity between the sexes.

Of course, there were also some minor character/plot development issues like: Katsa finding out that her grace is not actually in killing but in survival (which doesn't really make sense because how then is she able to inflict accurate pain on someone else when she's not being threatened?); or how Princess Bitterblue has the clarity of an adult when she's really only ten; or why the urgency to protect Bitterblue from her father (why she was so important to the King; if she died, then what? what's the consequence?); or why King Leck decided now (and not before) to spread his power across the kingdoms.

Overall, this was a desperately painful read but I was determined to finish...why? maybe I thought there was some redeeming grace at the end. But sadly, the entire time, I just begged it to be over.
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Reading Progress

September 11, 2012 – Started Reading
September 11, 2012 – Shelved
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: 3rd-person
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: female-lead
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: read-in-2012
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: library-owned
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: painful
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: romance
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: strange
September 17, 2012 – Shelved as: ya
September 17, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Masako Lin I'm so glad I am not the only person who seems to have an issue with the whole commitment thing! :)


message 2: by Lis (new)

Lis Incredible review, as always :) Even though I don't necessarily feel the same way I totally get what your talking about, especially with the false advertising thing (I didn't realize Cashore had said that, but if I'd had that expectation going in I definitely don't think I would have liked it as much) Great job! :)


Eva Rose It just seems to me that if you are in a relationship (married or not), there should be a certain level of commitment: loyalty, sacrifice...If the tables were turned and Katsa were a man, he most certainly would be considered a player.


YES! In the end I ended up disliking Katsa so much for using Po the way she was. Doesn't he deserve commitment, a home, kids? It made me angry.


Pricky Nina Rose wrote: "It just seems to me that if you are in a relationship (married or not), there should be a certain level of commitment: loyalty, sacrifice...If the tables were turned and Katsa were a man, he most c..."

Yes, I know! I had such a hard time empathizing with Katsa. Especially after the "big real" and how she responded to it. I did feel very badly for Po. If they were both happy with the situation, then that's fine but I always felt like Po was always the one sacrificing something for Katsa.


Pricky E wrote: "Incredible review, as always :) Even though I don't necessarily feel the same way I totally get what your talking about, especially with the false advertising thing (I didn't realize Cashore had s..."

Awww E. You always make me feel special. I really think the false advertising affected me A LOT. What she said is printed right there on the inside bio cover page...maybe I shouldn't have taken it too much to heart.

I also understand your side of view as well. Katsa IS such a different character from what we see out there and she doesn't succumb to what society expects of her. So in that way, I think we need more roles like that. :)


Pricky SL wrote: "I'm so glad I am not the only person who seems to have an issue with the whole commitment thing! :)"

ME TOO! :)


message 7: by Lis (new)

Lis hahahahaha just read her author bio, I'm a dork LOL :/ I tend to avoid author bios since Scott Speer's shirtless piece of bio in Immortal City, which I still refer to as 'speer-gate'. Now author bios just freak.me.out. I should really write him a letter about how I am now scarred for life...


Pricky E wrote: "hahahahaha just read her author bio, I'm a dork LOL :/ I tend to avoid author bios since Scott Speer's shirtless piece of bio in Immortal City, which I still refer to as 'speer-gate'. Now author bi..."

HHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Speer-Gate! I love it. And yes, I too, was emotionally scarred by that little number.


Tam Tam A book we gave the same amt of stars to. We really are sisters!


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