Sunday, April 11, 2010

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Fantasy or science fiction? In many ways, Graceling is classic fantasy. Cashore creates a new world, The Seven Kingdoms, and provides a map to help you keep your bearings. I never felt lost and the imaginary world isn’t very different from North America, but I enjoyed The Seven Kingdoms anyways. It’s a time before electricity with lots of dark tunnels and sword fighting. There are no wizards or elves but gracelings, individuals born with enhanced abilities, easily identified by their eyes. The ability aspect reminds me of X-men which is considered science fiction. But there’s nothing else particularly scientific about this story. I think it’s safe to say Graceling is fantasy that will appeal to fans of science fiction.

Cashore’s writing style was easy, fluid and fun to read. I would call this “light” reading but it wasn’t exactly childish either. It’s a nice medium between adult and children’s prose. The story is pretty captivating, starting in medias res, with a lot of action, secret councils and life-saving missions. I liked Katsa, the sixteen-year-old girl who struggles with the nature of her grace (aka ability) to kill. The violence she commits weighs her down and she wrestles with controlling her grace and not letting her grace control her. She’s a strong individual with an independent spirit which leads her to be rather stubborn at times. I liked that she wasn’t perfect and that she makes some mistakes. This book made me think about how I use my abilities. Some people are smart, good at making friends, financially successful, etc. but do we use our abilities to serve ourselves or those around us? In her youth, Katsa is manipulated but as she matures she learns that only she decides what her grace will be used for. There are some twists, dark secrets and, of course, a quest to set things right!

Causes for concern: These are reasons why my age rec. is so high. There are some mentions about menstruation. Katsa and her boyfriend have sex on several occasions (there isn’t much detail but there is an oh-so-convenient birth-control herb). Katsa is adamant that she will not marry and is willing for her bf to be unhappy so that she can be fulfilled. There is a lot of violence and descriptions of Katsa killing people. Just some things for parents to know and to talk about with young readers.

I enjoyed the story overall and am interested in reading the sequel, Fire. Check out the author’s blog:
Publisher: Graphia, Houghton Mifflin, 2008     Recommended Age: 16 and up
Rating: 3 Stars                                                         Source: IC Public Library            Pages: 471

1 comment:

  1. This book was pretty captivating (as you stated above). I really enjoyed it too, great review!