Saturday, September 25, 2010

Graceling - Kristen Cashore

Audio CD, Retail Edition
Published June 1st 2009 by Full Cast Audio (first published October 1st 2008)
ISBN 1934180890 (ISBN13: 9781934180891) synopsis:If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.
Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.
Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. 

I loved this story, despite my issues with the audio version that I'll get to at the end of this review.
It was fairly easy for me to sink into Katsa's world from early on in the book, her feelings regarding her grace and what she was made to do with it, and how she saw herself as a person. I loved how her feelings changed after she met Po, and she started seeing things a little differently.
The romance between Katsa and Po was believable and not overdone imo. A lot of the other reviews I read before starting this book talked a lot about Katsa being opposed to marriage and children. However, this made complete sense to me in the context of the story. Why would Katsa, raised as she was, find the concept of legally giving over her freedom to a man to be remotely attractive to her? She didn't really get into her reasons why she didn't want children but as I assume Katsa was fairly young in this book, I don't consider it a negative that she didn't feel her only path to happiness was as a wife and a mother.
Overall, I think this was a great book and I'm interested to see how she continues the series.

Now, as far as the audio version of this book, I have a lot more to say. I initially thought that the "full cast" audio would be off-putting for me, but it either grew on me or as I became more invested in the story, I no longer noticed. However, the music.... THE MUSIC!! That was the most annoying thing I've ever listened to in any audio book. It was constant, between every chapter, used to punctuate jokes, played during the sex scene, and most annoyingly during climactic scenes almost overpowering the narrators voice. I HATED it and strongly recommend that if you're going to read Graceling, get the actual book.
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