Thursday, February 21, 2013
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
If you like: gifted people * hand-to-hand combat * independence
In Graceling, some people are graced with magnified skill sets. These skills develop when they are children, and are often far more complex than they seem. Some have the ability to run quickly or hunt well, while others have augmented mental capacities. These individuals are treated very differently based on the communities they live in, but many are expected to serve their rulers without question. Katsa is one of the graced, and has spent her life working as an assassin for her uncle, the king. She works to circumvent his requests and do beneficial work for the people she meets.
The hidden complexities of the graces are captivating. Though many are not described in detail, those that are contain unknown layers of depth. These wells of strength are often hidden by their possessor, to their own advantage, and also their own safety. Katsa must constantly fight to maintain control, and she fears that her emotions will get the better of her and lead to the death of those who stand in her way. As she learns to embrace her talents, she realizes that she is much more than a killer. Po is the same. Though he is perceived to have physical skill, Katsa is quick to realize that he posses skill far beyond that of combat. King Leck’s grace is so powerful he conceals its existence to further utilize its power. If all of the graced hold such secrets, the potential for what they could create and achieve is limitless.
Katsa’s story is similar to that of many other YA heroines, a girl struggling to find her place in a world she doesn’t agree with meets a handsome stranger who helps her to discover her true potential, and yet is it strikingly differently. Unlike so many others, Katsa never subjugates herself for her love. Her strength is entirely self-possessed. She may learn from Po how to strengthen her own abilities, but above all else she is her own woman. So many other stories require that the heroine give up her dreams or leave her family behind in order to embrace her lover. Katsa is vehemently against this idea, and finds a way to blend happiness with achieving her own goals. Readers who don’t seek a happy marriage, or scorned lover will enjoy the fresh take in Graceling. Though some may not appreciate Katsa’s opposition to marriage and commitment, many others will understand her longing to be her own woman, and desire to make solitary choices. This divergence from commonplace storylines is just one of the facets that makes Graceling a must read.
If you follow your heart, read Graceling.
Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Harcourt, 2008. Kindle Edition.