Title: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
How it was obtained: Susan purchased it for herself.
Time spent on "to read" shelf: A month--I added it as a "to read" when I made this list.
Days spent reading it: 2.
Why I read it: Susan really liked this book, and said I would probably like it too. Susan has a definite influence on my young teen reader literature. I read all kinds of things she has liked or suggested, and for the most part also like or appreciate them. Alas, she rarely reads books that I like.
This book was freaking amazing! I read 100 pages one night, and 370 the next time I picked it up. I read well into the night in order to finish this book. I just had to know what would happen next. This book has love, loss, adventure, betrayal, good vs. evil, super powers, fighting, snowy mountain passes, and underwater caves, plot twists and turns, and a gripping climax. In short, everything that I like in a good fantasy book.
The title "Graceling" comes from a unique element in the book. Some people in this fantasy world are born with special gifts, "graces", that enhance their abilities in some special way. Some are graced with fighting, so they fight really well. Others are graced with some form of mind reading. Some are born with pragmatically useless (but fun) graces, like tree climbing. The book centers around Katsa ("Kat" for short). Kat is graced with killing. Yeah, killing. And from the first chapter until the last, this author had my complete attention.
There are great moral questions as Kat begins the book as a thug like character, but who develops a deeper sense of the moral questions before her. Should she continue to obey her master who demands that she kill or maim people who challenge him? Does she have a choice in how she lives (and kills)? Are there ways to combat the evil she is forced to perform?
My only warning for this book is that it would definitely be rated PG-13 for the violence depicted and the cheesy (and thankfully brief) sexual elements in the book. There is not much described, but it was enough that if it were a movie, I would cover my eyes!
Which brings me to my one concern from this book--marriage and long term commitment are seriously down played in this book. The main character wants relationship without the commitment. She sees commitment as being tied down, or stuck in a cage. She wants to roam free, but the conflicting image is that she wants her relationships there when it is convenient for her. She wants certainty that her love interest is still there when she comes back. I imagine that the target audience (teenage girls) would hear this message and accept it as a positive way to avoid the commitment of marriage. If a teenage girl I knew read this book, I would make sure to talk about this particular topic because it is prevalent in the book.
That being said...In conclusion this book was spectacular. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. It is aimed at teenagers but do not let that deter you. Graceling was a thrill from start to finish. One of my favorite books of the year.
Favorite Quote: (Its a little violent, describing the first time Katsa's Grace was revealed--she didn't know what it was, you've been warned)
"Her hand had flown out and smashed him in the face. So hard and so fast that she'd pushed the bones of his nose into his brain. Ladies in the court had screamed; one had fainted. When they'd lifted him from the pool of blood on the floor and he'd turned out to be dead, the court had grown silent, backed away."
Stars: 5 of 5.
Final Word: Extraordinary.