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Graceling ~ Kristin Cashore

September 22, 2009

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Graphia Books

480 pages

ISBN: 9780547258300

The premise of The Graceling is interesting enough. In a mystical fantasy land of kings and castles, there are certain gifted people who possess talents and skills beyond imagination. Strength, clairvoyance, survival, are turned into charms and weapons as they are discovered among the chosen few. Of course in every dreamland there resides a bit of nightmare and it is up to the strong and good to uncover the buried evil.

As fantasy goes, this was positive in its relative lucidity. There was not much in the way of encrypted strangeness, aside from a bizarre family tree. for me, though, the whole thing fell flat. The characters were not all that lovable. Katsa, the protagonist is inherently strong, a graced fighter, and stone-willed. This is a great beginning but she is never truly developed beyond that. Some critics have said that she is portrayed as too manly but I hardly have a problem with her masculinity or lack there of. She simply never becomes three dimensional and she is about as deep as the character description goes.

As far as the story line, if you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that I get get behind anything, no matter how fluffy on the surface, if there is even a glimmer of depth inferred. I could be missing the forest for the trees but having read the book cover to cover, I found nothing close to the Hunger Games or even The Luxe. I kept waiting for some sort of meaning behind the surface games but nothing appeared.

I wish I had read this prior to reading The Hunger Games. They are dissimilar in a lot of ways but they do have similar themes and Hunger Games is better by miles. In fact, as I mentioned, The Luxe is better by miles. I think that a different reader would enjoy this more than I and to look at other reviews, many certainly have. There are many things that got under the skin of other reviewers that did not make my radar (example: I was not bothered by the sex scenes nor did I find Cashore’s writing tedious) but nevertheless, Graceling didn’t make my list even though I really wanted it to.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. SaraKate permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:54 pm

    Do you find characters in many young adult books to be flat? I wonder if it’s because you’re reading more young adult vs. regular fiction. Sometimes I see characters in children’s or young adult literature as less-developed simply through lack of description or inclusion of intense thought-process of the character.

    You seem to be reading more young adult books lately. Are you enjoying them or do you find them tedious (in general)?

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      September 22, 2009 5:14 pm

      I’ve been reading more young adult books lately as that seems to be what comes in to my library. Right now I have a big stack of regular books which I’m pretty excited about including the new Doctorow.

      I find many YA books to be flat in character development but I also find that there are gems in the dust as well. I think that The Hunger Games and many Maureen Johnson books as well as John Green ‘s characters break this mold but the general run of the mill do not but I suppose that could be said of adult fiction as well. There are far fewer good books around than bad or mediocre books; the trick is finding the good ones and not getting discouraged in the meantime.

  2. SaraKate permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:56 pm

    P.S. I see you’re reading the Shadow of the Wind, which my roommate just let me borrow to read. Are you enjoying it? Trying to decide what’s next on my list after Ash (by Malinda Lo), which I’m loving (it’s a fairy tale retold and it’s beautiful and feminine, but lovely and dark as well as light).

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      September 22, 2009 5:15 pm

      I’m finding Shadow of the Wind pretty tedious. It was described as Eco and it simply lacks the imagination, speed or detail of anything related to Eco. it’s not written particularly well nor is it very good. I’m still plugging through it, though because I’m nearly done. You may enjoy it better than I, though.

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