Overall: 3.75/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 4/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3.75/5
Review in a Nutshell: I went into this book with crazy high expectations, and while it didn’t quite meet all of them, it was still a great read.
“Mercy was more frightening than murder, because it was harder.”
[ Related: August Favorites & My September TBR ]
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Torture, Animal Death, Murder, Incest (hinted at), Pedophelia (hinted at), sexual assault (hinted at), Human Trafficking (Mention) //
Release Date: 10/01/2008
Page Count: 471
Katsa is a Graceling. She was born with an innate gift. Except, while some people were Graced with fighting, telepathy, or music, Katsa was Graced with killing. Used as the king’s pawn, Katsa is sent across the kingdom threatening and torturing whoever the king tells her to, but what he doesn’t know is that she has her own missions, helping those who need it. On one of those missions, she meets Po, the youngest prince of a faraway kingdom. The two of them must work together to solve a mystery that threatens his family, but they didn’t expect to fall in love, or uncover a secret that threatens everything they know.
“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”
Read more for all of my thoughts on Graceling!
“If I wanted to stun anyone at dinner, I’d hit them in the face.”
Writing & Setting
Like I said, I had very high expectations going into this book. It was very, very hyped. And I think my high expectations may be a part of why I felt a little disappointed after reading it. Don’t get me wrong- it’s good. But it just wasn’t mind-blowingly amazing. The writing is what I liked the least. A lot of the phrasing was awkward and stiff. I could tell she was trying to evoke a classic fantasy tone with her prose, but sometimes it came off as a little pretentious and unnecessary. However, the dialogue was really great. It showed off the chemistry between the characters and it was just really fun. The setting was also much more of a hit for me. This is definitely a mostly European-inspired fantasy, and the kingdoms all felt very similar (with the exception of Lienid), but I loved the politics between the lands, as well as the entire concept of Gracelings and how they work.
Graceling is definitely a journey book. There is a lot of traveling. I’d say that 50% of this book is the characters trying to get from one kingdom to another. That said, it leaves a lot of room for the characters to shine, which I always love. The plot itself isn’t really fast-paced, but it isn’t slow. It has plenty of gripping moments, but they pass by quickly.
Before I went into this book, I knew some people weren’t fans of Katsa. I can see that. She’s definitely not the easiest protagonist to love, but she does have a great character arc throughout the book. Po, however, is very easy to love. He was definitely my favorite character, with either Bitterblue or Raffin as #2. This book really excels in having strong side characters that are just as compelling- if not more- as the main characters. Also, the antagonist. The main villain isn’t as rounded out as some of the other characters, but they are absolutely terrifying.
Also, can we talk about the romance for a second? Because oh my god I love it. Seriously. It is such a healthy relationship, and it’s completely adorable!
“There’s no shame in crawling when one can’t walk.”
Pros- Fun dialogue, Interesting world, good characters, amazing romance
Cons- Prose isn’t great, not exactly a “thrilling read”
Overall- 3.75/5 stars.
Graceling is a good book, but I feel like the majority of the hype is because it came out in a time when there weren’t that many options for YA fantasy. So while I would recommend it to fantasy fans, I don’t know if it would have gotten the same praise if it came out today.
If You Liked Graceling, I’d Recommend:
- Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas – [ Review ]
- Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers – [ Review ]
- Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne – [ Review ]
Have you read Graceling? What is one fantasy series that you’ve been dying to read?