GracelingAuthor: Kristin Cashore
Reading Level: 7th, 8th, and older

Pages: 471
Publisher: Harcourt
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

I absolutely loved this book — against my initial somewhat negative reaction to the very plain and sometimes clumsy prose and exposition. (The “listing” of kingdoms/names and their relationships definitely, or starting two consecutive sentences with the word And, or slightly muddled sentences like this, “… as if he’d done nothing wrong, nothing completely and absolutely wrong.” — none of this held much promise.) And of course, since I was reading it with the Notable Children’s books in mind, the one sort of heavy sex scene stood out as not entirely necessary at the time. (Although, a lovely scene.)

And then, something changed: the characters became real and vivid and completely compelling and the plot took some unexpected turns that caught even me, a veteran fantasy reader, by surprise. I could not put it down and rushed to find out what happened next. Here are some of my thoughts as I read it:

1. In some ways, this one reminds me of Twilight: with its two main young protagonists completely absorbed with each other, against all odds and other people’s views over their “talents.” But, it is somehow “anti-Twilight” in that these two made a choice to have a physical relationship without conforming to the socially acceptable norm.

2. In some ways, this one reminds me of Jane Austen — I know it is a far cry — in that the two characters are initially at odds against each other emotionally, even though they are completely attracted to each other. It also is much like many many Harlequin Romance novels in this aspect — except, except that they reconcile their differences early on, not dragging or making that sexual/emotional tension into the entire focus of the story (THANK GOODNESS!)

3. In some ways, this one alleviated a little bit of my need to read something akin to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series: there are several very surprising plot twists that made me go, “WHAT?” and almost drop the book! (Of course, SoIF is so much so much more complex and so much grander in so many ways…)

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Filed under Book Notes

2 responses to “Graceling

  1. Saints and Spinners

    I really enjoyed this one as well. There were a few clunky sentences as you pointed out, but by and large, I thought it was a lovely, riveting story. I did feel that the ending was a bit of a setup for a sequel– what do you think?

    While the premarital sex in the book fits within the context of the story, it does make it harder for me to recommend across the board to people whom I think would enjoy the story otherwise. At least the matter of contraception is brought up, which is often lacking in other fantasy novels. Tamora Pierce takes care of it with a special charm, and Cashore's got seabane.


  2. fairrosa

    I am fine without a sequel, but yup, it seems that the story can go many places if the author so inclines. I totally was thinking about how she dealt with contraception — but … um… how about the potential of diseases? That definitely was not addressed — nor should it have been the author's responsibility to do so. Just crossed my mind. That's all.


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