Graceling – by Kristin Cashore
I find it somewhat fascinating that this book came out in the same month that the first Hunger Games book was published. Two books about teenage girls with eerily similar names – one a skilled fighter and one a hunter forced to fight, with similar attitudes and the same hard shell to keep people out – published at the same time, independently of each other? I would have to say, however, that I prefer Katniss to Katsa. Maybe it’s because I read The Hunger Games first, but I think that Katniss is more nuanced and three-dimensional, while I never quite got a handle on Katsa’s character.
In the world of the Seven Kingdoms, certain people are Graced with extraordinary, super-human talents. Katsa has a killing Grace, making her a dangerous weapon in the hands of her uncle, the king. Katsa is tired of punishing people for her uncle, but she can’t see a way out until she meets Prince Po, another Graced fighter. Together, the two set out to find the truth about his grandfather’s kidnapping and find themselves drawn into a terrible conspiracy that threatens all of the Seven Kingdoms.
The world of the Seven Kingdoms is very fully realized and I love the idea of the Graces. There’s a lot of potential there, and I particularly liked Katsa’s and Po’s deepening understanding of their own Graces. All in all, I liked the book, but I didn’t love it. There is quite a bit of potential for further stories in this world, however, and I’ll be interested to try out the companion book and the new sequel.