action, book reviews, contraception in books, female assassin, graceling, great YA novels for your teenagers, healthy romantic relationships in YA, healthy YA novels with positive themes, high epic fantasy, kristen cashore, po and katsa, positive sex messages, sexual themes in YA novels, strong feminism, strong heroine
by Kristin Cashore
genre: epic/high fantasy, YA, adventure
The world was great and the story was solid. This is why I gave it a 3.5 out of 5 stars!
(Taken from Goodreads)
In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is 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…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
I finished this novel a while ago but it saddened me that I had never written a review. I really enjoyed the world where some people were born with graces (super abilities) in a semi-medieval fantasy world. Katsa is a very strong heroine which I adored. Her grace is killing.
While I don’t like YA much, this book felt more NA (New Adult). There was a more mature feel. It was more believable than many YA stories. Overall, I enjoyed it. I found Po very likeable and you may know me from my rants on City of Bones & City of Ashes, I hate romanticized brooding, abusive love interests. While Po is cheeky, he’s very much a fantastic love interest for Katsa.
Some people have described the novel as ‘too feminist’. I would disagree. Katsa is an amazing killer. She fights constantly. She’s against marriage, although not necessarily against love. She doesn’t want children. She doesn’t become a doormat when she falls in love. She is emotionally stunted (in my opinion) and is very dominant with Po but I think that it was believable. She’s only 17 and she’s been trained as a killer. I don’t see why this makes her ‘too feminist’. She isn’t meant to be the symbol or epitome of a strong female lead, she’s just a version of what that type of heroine could be. If it was a male character, I bet no one would have had questioned the actions/values that Katsa exhibited in this novel.
What I found amazing and kind of ground-breaking for this novel was what happened during the sex scene. While Katsa and Po are getting all intimate, they suddenly stop and get contraception. Yep! Contraception. Why am I so happy? Because I never hear about contraception or safe sex in ANY book let alone young adult. Considering the audience for these kinds of books, I was over the moon to hear about such a positive and SAFE sexual experience for the two. I was so impressed! Positive messages for the win!
Overall, I remember enjoying Graceling. Although I gave it a 3.5 stars, I think it could have been improved. We don’t see much of the villain which was kind of annoying. Romance was a bigger theme than I thought it was going to be. In summary though, it approaches many themes brilliantly. It offers a new kind of heroine, who although is very assertive, is also very refreshing. If you have teenagers (boys or girls), this is a YA book I’d definitely recommend!
3.5 out of 5 stars
- Want a new type of YA book
- Love reading about strong heroines
- Want a novel with a great blend of high fantasy, action, and romance
This book is not for you if you:
- Love reading about brooding love interests or love triangles
- Dislike reading anything sexual between two mature teenagers (17 and 19)
– Ermisenda Alvarez
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