Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Harcourt, 2008. 471p. Grades 7-12. Fantasy.
Katsa has been graced with killing, something her uncle, the King has taken advantage of. While she struggles to maintain her humanity, she discovers Po, who is similarly graced, or so she thinks. As they fall in love, new treachery is discovered and Katsa and Po race to save a young princess from a mad king whose grace is to manipulate people into believing every word he says.
I really enjoyed strength in Katsa’s character. Her strength is inspiring and as much as I hate to say this, is unique in a female main character. It would be easy to say that Katsa just has physical strength, but what really makes her a dynamic character is her mental strength and her desire to take her life into her own hands. Many different factors such as, teachers, coaches, and parents control teenagers’ lives. Katsa taking control of her own life could be encouraging and relatable to teens.
The relationship between Katsa and Po was believable and it was between them. I enjoyed that there wasn’t really a love triangle. (There was a little bit of one, someone else was in love the Katsa but there was never any question that Katsa only enjoyed his friendship.) It wasn’t easy for Katsa to let someone into her life who had not been there already. I enjoyed the awkwardness of them getting to know one another and the fights they had. At one point after Katsa realized what Po giving his ring to her meant said,
“And he’s right to have given it, because he is going to die, because I am going to kill him when I next see him, for doing such a thing and frightening me and not telling me what it meant.”
This is something I could have seen myself saying as a teenager who was scared of commitment.
Even though Graceling was set in the Seven Kingdoms, there wasn’t very much described about the setting that wasn’t integral to the plot. For example, the mountains Katsa and Bitterblue crossed into Sunder were explained in more detail, but for the most part Cashore allowed the reader to fill in the setting, which gives the reader the ability to create their own version of Cashore’s world and use their imagination.