Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I'm always a little wary of reading novels that have been getting a lot of buzz, afraid that they might not live up to my expectations, but like The Hunger Games,  Graceling certainly lived up to the hype.

In the world of the Seven Kingdoms, some children are born with special gifts, or graces.  These children can be easily recognized by the fact that they have two differently colored eyes (Katsa, for example has one green and one blue, while Po has one gold and one silver).  Katsa's grace is one for killing, and her uncle, King Randa, has used her gift to intimidate his adversaries.  Katsa has found her own rebellion, however, and using her powers to help those in need.  As the novel opens, she meets Po, a young man with a grace for fighting, and they form a rather unusual friendship.

I loved it.  I loved the way Cashore depicted the relationship of Katsa and Po and the worries of Katsa that an intimate relationship would, in some way, mean giving up her independence, the idea that marriage is not necessarily the only option for a happy relationship.*  For me, the adventure and action in the novel, as exciting as it is, takes second place to the exploration of Katsa and Po's relationship.

And I'm completely torn between the US and UK covers.   And about whether this should be a teen book or an adult one (Cashore actually discusses this issue on her own blog ).  The main characters ages are never mentioned (that I can recall, correct me if I'm wrong!) -- though I was imagining Katsa as being in her late teens or early twenties.  There are some intimate scenes in the novel, that while very tasteful, might be seen by some as not appropriate for teens, but are not as graphic as what may be found in adult novels.   This novel may in fact be part of a trend towards more older YA novels (as described by Jonathan Hunt in Hornbook)  Either way, I'd recommend the novel to both teens and adults, and I've already pawned it off onto several of my co-workers.
There have been obvious comparisons made by other reviewers to Tamora Pierce and Shannon Hale...but besides those, readers might also enjoy The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison and Summers at Castle Auburn and the Safe Keeper's Series, both by Sharon Shinn.  Any other titles that you think Graceling readers might enjoy?  Leave a comment!

Other Blog Reviews:
Shelf Elf (and author interview), Fantasy Book CriticAbby (the) Librarian, Kids LitSandstorm ReviewsBookshelves of DoomAmoxCalliAvid Teen ReaderThe Magic of InkOmnivoracious (author interview)

*I could make a snide comment here about another fantasy novel, but I'll refrain.


TadMack said...

Your refraining shows SUCH maturity!

It's killing me to hear how good this book is -- and I know I'm like that about big-buzz books too... so if YOU like it, I'm pretty sure I will. Can't wait to get home and read-read-read!! UK books just ...aren't the same.

Sara said...

lol, yes, I must be growing up ;)

Hope you enjoy it when you finally get a copy! Though, you know, I'm totally jealous of your access to UK books!

Diana Peterfreund said...

I adored this book -- and I'm loving loving the UK cover, which I have not seen yet. It's interesting how it's more of a "violent" cover. It's interesting how US publishers tend to shy away from that in YA. (My cover, you can barely see the girl's sword.)

Sara said...

I read somewhere that the book was being published as adult in the UK, so I wonder if that has something to do with the darkness of the cover (which personally, I love too!).

And you know, I didn't even notice the sword at all on your cover for Rampant, but the cover definitely caught my attention. Can't wait to read it!

Ms. Yingling said...

I'll have to take a look at this. There are only so many times I can recommend Alanna!

Sara said...

Really! And I think those Alanna readers would enjoy this one too.

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