- Page Count: 471
- Release Date: October 1, 2008
- My Rating: 2.5 stars
Goodreads book description:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…
Soooo I thought this was some kind of Hunger Games-type dystopian story about a girl who could kill with her touch for some reason and put off reading it because I wasn’t huge on Shatter Me. BUT then this turned out to be full of castles and princes and everything I love so that was a fun surprise!
I’m extremely neutral about this book, though. There were a few elements I liked (mostly the castles and princes), but the worldbuilding was weak and the writing itself was really dull. I didn’t particularly connect with anything throughout the slow plot, honestly. It wasn’t bad… it just kind of skimmed the surface of what it could’ve been. Some better worldbuilding or character development would’ve helped a lot.
I think I’ve just read so many other books about girl assassins/killers at this point that I need some unique element or a stronger story. SOMETHING. I thought the Graceling aspect was kind of underused or boring (aside from the fact that Katsa’s eyes were two different colors). I wasn’t that into the romance, either, but thought Po’s Graceling talent was interesting!
Ughhh the characters: I really wasn’t big on Katsa herself. Her character was equally hard to pin down, yet annoying. Like there’s a difference between being tough/badass and being straight up rude and she kind of missed that. Katsa’s personality is more self-righteous aggression? LIKE SHE HITS Po and how is any of this fine.
And I wouldn’t necessarily herald this book as being feminist like I’ve heard because Katsa doesn’t really support or attempt to understand other women’s choices as well as she could, either. The underlying message in some parts is very black/white… like women either have power or give it up to a guy. There isn’t a range of ways for women to be strong. (And it’s fine that she doesn’t want to marry, but if her independent identity actually hinges on not needing a guy, then it still revolves around men — just the lack thereof). Most of the story was just a weird and poorly executed attempt to create a “strong” female MC.
I think this book might have been more unique when it was first released, but at this point every fun element of this book has been done in a better way. Graceling brings absolutely nothing new to the table and was just very, very average and anticlimactic. The best I can give it is a very neutral shrug… I didn’t actively dislike it, but I’m not sure I’ll check out the sequels.