Katsa is much like Katniss from The Hunger Games in her naive perception of the world, her coldness and tendency towards pragmatic practicality She is similar to Xhex from the Black Dagger Brotherhood in her disgust of all things feminine The story is well written, with engaging, fun characters Katsa is fun to read about The plot may be a little predictable at times but it did throw me a curve ball toward the end The romance is lovely between Katsa and Po I take exception though, to the message that this book sends It is the same message I am reading over and over again in current literature.
From Bella Swan who looks down on girls who like shopping, to Xhex who must be wrestled into a dress and who sees all signs of emotion as feminine weakness and now Katsa who refuses to marry or have children and who despises dresses and long hair.
Message to authors It is not nice dresses and pretty hair and an ability to be weepy on occasion that is the cause for the many inequality issues that women face Putting a woman in pants does not change how the world perceives her It doesn t suddenly make her stronger and better than the woman in the dress who likes jewelery Your character does not suddenly become the beacon of the feminist movement because she doesn t like dresses So sick of reading about strong, independent female characters who don t like dresses and spend most of the novel putting down almost every other female character as weak and pathetic.
First thing I need to point out is that I consider myself a feminist, even as far as to take an active role is such matters Previously, I have written articles on Feministing and I honestly think so many of these issues are still very important in today s world However you look at it, the battle for equality has not been won and has, in fact, become rather dormant.
On that note, I love reading fiction by feminist writers, Atwood never fails to deliver and The Handmaid s Tale is one of my favourite books of all time Similarly with Virginia Woolf s A Room of One s Own, except Woolf s writing can make you want to slit your wrists at times The point of me saying this is that when I heard Graceling called feminist propaganda , rather than being repelled, I was intrigued I love modern stories with strong heroines who can stand up for themselves and don t need to wait for prince charming to swoop in and save them Katsa fit this in many ways, true, but I have so many issues with the feminist ideals in this novel that I don t know where to begin.
I am constantly faced with the irritating irony of radical feminists The irony being that their favourite passtime is telling women what to do Real feminism as in the one that actually cares about women is about choice, not about having to follow strict guidelines in order to banish the image of feminity It s people like Kristin Cashore who make the term feminism seem like a dirty word Being strong and capable of making your own decisions is one thing but the extremes of having to prove that you don t care about your looks or refusing to wear a dress is ridiculous I wear dresses, I wear make up, I like to make the effort to look nice but in Cashore s world that means I m a weak, pathetic wannabe housewife.
For me, the main mistake that Cashore makes is to assume that anything girly is bad It s an ongoing debate about women and feminism For example, take the stereotype that women are emotional and are therefore weak than men The argument is Is this wrong and women are not emotional Or does what s wrong lie in the idea that emotions are a weakness because they are a feminine trait Radical feminism continues to try and spit on traditional aspects of what it means to be feminine Of course, it is arguable that the idea of feminine is created through socialisation e.
g dressing babies in either pink or blue depending on gender , but it has long been my opinion that if you take the colour pink a worldwide symbol of the female gender and make it into something that should be disgusting, then that s about as anti woman as you can get.
Margaret Atwood understood the dangers of radicalism and wrote the novel to go with it In the same way that extreme socialism becomes the mirror of totalitarianism, radical feminism begins to mirror sexism And that s why I had issues with a great deal of Graceling But what I did like was the love story between Katsa and Po, once Katsa got over the idea that he would somehow take possession of her after sex Po was a sweetheart and an all round likeable character And, don t get me wrong, I never really disliked Katsa because the fact that she refuses to wear a dress and doesn t want children is entirely her choice and that s what s important I liked her strength and at many times I felt her frustration particularly with regards to the girls throughout the kingdoms who were never taught to protect themselves because their fathers and brothers were expected to do it I completely agree with the idea that the girls should have been taught self defence and self sufficiency.
The whole backdrop of magical kingdoms and whatnot was alright It fit nicely around the main characters but I found the love story to hold most of my attention and that s why I ve decided that I don t want to read Fire The reviews of it tell me that romance comes far behind the whole fantasy aspect and I still have Tolkien nightmares Yeah so, not a bad story but so many things disagreed with what I stand for.
Graceling has a beautiful cover, great premise, and lots of hype, and would be a terrific novel if it weren t for the writing and atrocious main character What is with the awkward sentence structures and prose in this book In these dungeons the darkess was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind It should be In these dungeons, the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind And look at the next sentence One that had so far proven to be correct, as Oll s maps tended to do What That made absolutely no sense Instead One that had so far proven to be correct, as Oll s maps tended to be Wouldn t that be better Then later on Turning when it was time to turn What Isn t that redundant And She began to hear voices as she entered a corridor where the darkness flickered orange with the light of a torch set in the wall Dude, darkness does not flicker orange, if it did then that would not make it dark And it s not with the light of a torch, but light from a torch That whole sentence is just full of awkward phrasing and clunky description.
And the next Katsa crept toward the light and the sound of laughter How can she creep toward laughter when it wasn t even introduced earlier It just does not get any better And later on, she pulls her hood down over her eyes What the hell How do you expect to fight if you can t see where the heck you re going or what you re doing It s not a surprise she trips over the four guards because OBVIOUSLY, you can t see anything Why does she need to pull her hood down to hide her eyes when the guard she fights later ALREADY KNOWS WHAT SHE IS Okay, that s it I m done But the biggest offense of the book was the main character Katsa is the most annoying, aggravating, self centered, abusive, and violent character I ve ever had the misfortune to read from the eyes from I thought Bella was tops in annoying meter ranking , but Katsa wins the prize During the book there were many instances where I wished I could rip her hair out and run her through with her own sword She has some of the big Mary Sue tendencies It wasn t so bad that she was Graced with some special ability but hers was off the wall unbelievable that I couldn t give her any sort of realistic credibility at all Not only can she kill anyone with her bare hands, she s faster than anyone, builds fire better than anyone, hunts better than anyone, shoots and fires arrows better than anyone, yet she doesn t suffer from the freezing cold as the rest of her comrades it just slows her down when other normal people would be down on the ground dying from hypothermia She doesn t even tire like the rest of them because she just has unending bundles of stamina So much so that she can go for days without sleeping even though they were in some pretty gruesome and difficult battles And the list goes on I mean what can Ms Perfect not do And don t give me that crap about how it s logical because of her special grace There s a special balance between believable and ridiculous, and I m sorry, but this is way over into the ridiculous area.
But that wasn t the worst of it Katsa s most nonredeemable factor was her attitude No one can tell her to do anything she doesn t want to do even if it s for the wiser And if she doesn t like what she hears, her first reaction is anger, and then she throws a tantrum until she gets her way But yet, every situation she finds unappealing to her, the first though that comes to mind is violence I clearly remember a scene where Po told her his opinion which wasn t demeaning, cruel, or hurtful at all, and you know what she does Hits him so hard he falls off his chair and has a wicked bruise W T F And not only that, her characterization is inconsistent She s supposed to be this bad ass chick who takes no crap from anyone and doesn t need a man in her life to define her but as soon as Po enters and tells her he s going to leave she cries tears because she doesn t know why What the hell kind of crap is this And what is her utter revulsion to marriage I mean, I don t want to get married as well but Katsa s reasoning behind this is not concrete or sufficient enough to support her viewpoint that she vehemently defends many times throughout the book Not bringing children into this world, yes, I totally get it and understand but marriage Especially when Po is searching for a sign of commitment on their relationship If she did not want to marry him or anyone in particular she could supplement this in other ways but she doesn t.
I was absolutely disgusted, disgusted , by the way she treated her horses She treats them as a way to serve her own self satisfying needs without care The first instance that stuck me was when Po and Katsa were riding off somewhere and she slammed her horse against Po s because she wanted to get his attention W T F Not only is that dangerous to the rider because they could fall off, but it s dangerous to the horse Slamming into another horse while you re riding is NOT something you do The horse could have fallen because the impact threw him off balance, and you re obviously not going to walk away from that injury free, or it could have tripped and then fallen Not to mention she ALWAYS pushes her horses to ride fast because she has no patience and wants to get there faster, and if someone tells her they needed to rest the horses or they ll break them, she just throws hissy fits about how they have to hurry and they re just slowing her down Horses are not machines, good god They re living, breathing animals that need care just like we do The next one was near the end of the book where she pushed everyone so hard, and rode for hours at a blistering gallop just so they could reach their destination faster And then I clearly remember someone, Skye, I believe it was telling her that she lamed a horse And you know what Katsa s response to this was Oh, he s not lame He s perfectly fine and then throws a fit about how he s slowing them down and they need to get up and ride him harder so they can get to their destination faster OMFG I almost threw the book across the room in rage.
The place names were very uncreative You might think they re clever but they were shallow attempts at trying to make them seem fantasy epic like They were just barely concealed renamings of East, West, South, North, and Middle And I didn t even get started on the writing It was super choppy, suffered from an annoying excess of repetitive phrasing, and without a lot of showing The structure was all the same Katsa went and did this, did that, felt this, and so on and so forth Another problem was the insane amounts of info dumping in the beginning After the third page, I just couldn t give a rip about the places history, what it looked like, who was who s father.
I can see why a lot of people love this book There s romance, a super strong female character that kicks butt, and the tried and true quest adventure formula of a fantasy novel But it s just not for me I absolutely hate not finishing a series so I ll probably read the next one, but ugh, not looking forward to it My opinion Avoid this book I may probably be stoned to death for this review because every where I go it seems to be so well loved and praised with glowing reviews.
When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster Did it become something elseAuthors, take note This is YA Lit done right.
Katsa is a monster She s been one ever since she discovered the power of her killing Grace Onlyshe starts to wonder, does she have to be In the Graceling Realm, those born with heterochromia different colored eyes are blessed with a Grace A Grace can be anything from the mundane i.
e holding your breath indefinitely to the cruel i.
e mind control Katsa has been blessed with a killing grace Ever since she was a child, she could murder at the slightest touch A Gracling born into her kingdom is automatically offered to the King her uncle Under his thumb, she murdered, tortured and struck horror across his lands and the seven kingdoms.
However, as she grew older, she became less comfortable in her own skin So, she formed an alliance with sympathizers and started moonlighting as a hero When a mysterious prince one with a silver eye and a gold eye and graced with fighting visits to her kingdom, she finds herself questioning everything she s ever done.
First off abso freaking lutely loved this premise The powers, the squabbling kingdoms, the atmosphere YES Mercy was frightening than murder, because it was harder.
Second off I loved Katsa s strength She s far stronger than any man in the kingdom but the writing and the characterization is done so well that she never dips a toe into Mary Sue territory nor does she get thrown into the self sacrificing woe is me category She s a badass who s earned her credentials And, I adore her sass Perhaps I can stay by the fire and mend your socks and scream if I hear any strange noises.
Third off I loved the love There was no falling in love at first sight, no shoe horned love triangle and NO weird YA boy smells I adored between Katsa and her beau Po and I will defend their love to my dying day They have such a stable, healthy relationship something that is woefully in short supply in YA Katsa sat in the darkness of the Sunderan forest and understood three truths She loved Po She wanted Po And she could never be anyone s but her own.
If you are in the mood for quality YA lit pick this series up This is my fourth read through and I loved it as much as the first The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge A book about a villian or antiheroAudiobook CommentsHoly mother of pearl Full cast audio production each character had a different actor actress, there was music between chapters AND the kid voices sounded really realistic An absolute pleasure to listen to.
Blog Instagram Twitter Updated 04 01 14 I happen to like books which feature kick ass feminist heroines and are light on the romance so I should like this book, right Yeah, but I don t First of all, Katsa acts like a petulant little girl throughout the entire book, not some strong feminist poster woman Katsa shows very little, if any, personal growth over the course of this novel Also, I felt like the author spent too much time trying to sell us on the following ideas femininity is an idea forced upon women by the patriarchy, men don t respect women, commitment ruins relationships, marriage is a tool of the devil, and so on Look, I understand that some women feel that way, and I m completely cool with it I d be lying if I claimed that I ve never thought some of the same things during my lifetime That said, I hate how the author seems to be shoving very specific views down my throat instead of telling me a story that challenges me to think for myself This book is written in such a way that it makes me think Cashore, the author, is using her character, her story as a vehicle to voice her very strong opinions Don t get me wrong, I don t necessarily have a problem with that sort of thing, it s just that this book is being touted as feminist but I fail to see true feminism within the pages of this book I mean, I guess you could consider it a version of feminism, but it s not very inclusionary In fact, it s a very bigoted version of feminism Other than Katsa every other woman in this book is portrayed as weak and dumb So basically unless you re an angry, dress hating, man hating woman with an aversion to commitment there is something wrong with you News Flash femininity isn t anti feminist I m sorry but it is possible for independent, intelligent and stable women to embrace femininity without losing credibility And anyway, isn t that the point of the feminist movement Gaining equality without having to act like one of the guys I mean, sure, you can reject femininity if you want, but don t go around assuming that those who are feminine are pathetic weakling losers who do nothing to help the cause It just so turns out that line of thought is backward and does nothing to advance the cause Also, Katsa s view of other women in the realm is quite condescending in that she never seems to consider how privileged she is compared to some of these other women Katsa s lucky in that she has the ability to kill pretty much anyone she wants so it s not like she has to do a damn thing anyone tells her to do Despite all the crap she supposedly has to put up with, Katsa has benefitted from an education and she s also afforded freedoms than most women because someone else pays her bills She doesn t have to milk the cows or churn butter or become a serving wench She doesn t have to prostitute herself out in order to make ends meet.
Girlfriend needs to shut the hell up about all that because it s not like she s doing anything other than making a hole observations Katsa s not doing anything to change the way all women in the realm are treated, which is fine, it s her life, whatever She just needs to quit it with the judgmental attitude toward others who can t afford to live or think the way she does I could have handled Katsa s aversion to having a relationship with Poe if she hadn t had any feelings for him, or if she knew she wasn t emotionally ready to make any sort of commitment But no, Katsa s aversion to commitment was built up do be some great personal strength of hers In the end it just felt like she she being Katsa Or Cashore Kat Shore was trying to prove a point or something, like look at how independent I am I m not a barnacle I don t need a manexcept for when I needs teh sex So Poe, my lover, sorry you lost your sight and all but I ll prolly be drunk dialing you in the future, cause I am comfortable with my sexuality kthanxbai sob Walking away is waaaaay hard, which is why I am so strong sob Grrrrrrrrrrrrrl Powerrrrrr Yeah, because being in a loving, trusting, equal and committed relationship isn t a sign of strength Strength can only be had by loners who don t like to commit because doing so will supposedly lower their self worth ummm.
I mean independent people Also, it has to be said The love scene grosses me out as much or than the sex scene s in Titanic and or Avatar Some people just don t know how to write a love scene James Cameron and Kristin Cashore are among that group One last thing why is it that no one seems to have an issue with Katsa hitting Po, literally knocking him to the ground so hard that he bruises All he did was voice his opinion, that s it Had the tables been turned, had Po hit Katsa for voicing her opinion, you people would be unbelievably angry I m sure some of you would be burning Cashore in effigy Let s do a little of this whole turning tables thing Pretend that Katsa is actually a male character and Po is female Okay, how much do you love this new topsy turvy version of Graceling Not very much, you say Yeah, I thought so If you ask me Katsa is one of the least deserving protagonists She s a violent, judgmental a hole who shows little to no personal growth over the course of this entire book I don t care if she had a difficult childhood, having a difficult childhood doesn t mean you have to go around inflicting the worst parts of yourself on others Having a difficult childhood doesn t give you license to be an awful person.
Two stars because the concept was cool Too bad it was poorly executed.
What I think about when I hear the namePo Po the Panda Po from Telletubbies A crazy guy like Edgar Allen Poe PooKatsa Ketchup Mutant KatnissRor Roar I m a T Rex Tealiff Tea LeafSkye Skype A modern name, which you will NOT find in a medieval place.
King Randa Ranting Panda King Ranting Panda Drowden Drowsy DrowningThigpen Pig pen Thinking penLeck Lick Peck Neck Smack Some other variationLienid An insult Hey, you LienidBy the way, Po s real name is Greening Grandemalion Great, at least its not Yellowing Grandemalion or Purpling Grandemalion or something stupid like that That would sound really weird, unlike Greening Grandemalion, which is a name someone would normally give to their child YeahIf you have any suggestions about what the names from Graceling sound like, feel free to put it in the comments Note Next up is the review, which is very thorough about the issues of Graceling s worldbuilding This is going to take a while, but stay with me Thanks Actual Rating 2.
5 starsWhen reviewers criticize Graceling, they often complain about the view on feminism I think enough has been said about that, so for detailed reviews about that issue, I recommend Amanda s review and Tatiana s review.
However, this isn t Graceling s only flaw The other big problem is the black and white world building.
World of Graceling Graceling is set in a european ish medieval land with horses, taverns, kings, castles, and anything else you would except to find in such a place The land is divided into seven kingdoms Lienid the island kingdom , Monsea a kingdom closed off by the mountains , Middluns the middle kingdom , and Nander, Estill, Sunder, Wester, which surround Middluns on the North, East, South, and West side, respectively See what Cashore did there Another aspect is the Graced some people are born with special abilities called Graces such as mind reading, excellent swimming skills, killing, etc There is great prejudice against the Graced except in Lienid and one can tell if another person is Graced if the person s eyes are mismatched colors Random comment One of my friends has eyes like this It s a condition called heterochromia iridum But sadly, my friend has no superpowers AnywaysI think we can all agree that European medieval worlds are definitely overdone nearly every epic fantasy or high fantasy is set in one However, authors can still make them fresh if they add complexity to them with new aspects or intriguing history.
Examples of Fresh, Intriguing WorldsFor example, in Cinda Williams Chima s Seven Realms, the generic fantasy world is made fresh by complex struggles between Gray Wolf Queens, Clan, and Wizards There is a well developed and unique culture in the world, stemming from the struggles between Clan and Wizards, and the history is complex and believable.
Another example is The Well Between the Worlds It is a retelling of the King Arthur tale, set in a medieval world, but adds the elements of the Wells, the sinking of Lyonnesse, and industrialization to make a breathtakingly fresh and original world So, what s the matter with Graceling s world Why Graceling s World building Simply Isn t Good EnoughFirst off, there are only a few fresh aspects of this world 1 The idea of the Graced2 Some cultural aspects of the Lienid like the gold jewelry, Po s tattoos, and the ring inheritance thing.
and that s pretty much it But there s got to be Anything Tell me, is thereA religion No.
History Like references to why the kingdoms are how they are, etc Nope.
Mythology legends stories about old heroes, Graced, etc No.
Unique cultural aspects None.
Anything that separates the world of Graceling from other fantasies I m sorry, but there is, other than the Graced, nothing original here.
Okay, okay, we get it Nothing new here But sometimes, generic fantasy worlds are complex There are complex issues, complex characters, and complex motivations which make up for the lack of originality In fact, a world lacking new ideas sometimes portrays old ideas in a new light What about Graceling Is there any complexity Lack of complexity in GracelingPart One The Inhabitants of the worldEEEEEEVIL PEOPLE The villain, view spoiler King Leck hide spoiler
talking about this book is like trying to describe to someone a relationship from long ago that was bittersweet and is now over, but i have never had a relationship that involved so many horses and swordplay, not even metaphorically and fewer people care about my love life than about this book i see you ariel you are glowering at me with tiny slitted eyes but this book is like a wonderfully sweet relationship at the beginning, you can t even imagine how you ever got along without it.
and your friends ariel try to talk you out of it oh, don t get with that guy, he gave me herpes or whatever but at the beginning everything was shiny and magical and when things started to go a little bit awry, i wrote it off as a glitch a bad day that didn t necessarily mean that we weren t super awesome soulmates because it s true the girl time in the mountain sequence was the weakest, but i really thought the book rebounded to perfection afterward we can forgive one drunken dalliance, can t we one lapse in judgment what happens n Graceling stays in Graceling yes i just loved so much about this book i never ever get invested in the love story side plots of these teen fiction books i have yet to be on a team but this time, i fully believed in their attraction, and i really wanted these crazy kids to get together and kick ass together forever their fighting scenes, when they were fighting each other, were hugely erotic,and for once the male lead seemed worthy in a way that others have not been their shyness, their tenderness i found it very sweet and if i was a crying type of girl, i would definitely have cried at this one.
so i am seriously bummed that the sequel is about the early life and times of king lamewad and not about anyone i actually cared about but i will probably read it anyway, completist that i am.
and eventually, because i think i have largely abandoned this metaphor, and it is very important to follow through, even though there were bumps in the road and people got hurt and friends were less free with advice in the future, the experience was a generally positive one, and the memory lives on as an Important Time where everything seemed possible even liking a book ariel said was badcome to my blog Watch my review here 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 She Never Expects To Fall In Love With Beautiful Prince Po She Never Expects To Learn The Truth Behind Her Grace Or The Terrible Secret That Lies Hidden Far Away A Secret That Could Destroy All Seven Kingdoms With Words Alone With Elegant, Evocative Prose And A Cast Of Unforgettable Characters, Debut Author Kristin Cashore Creates A Mesmerizing World, A Death Defying Adventure, And A Heart Racing Romance That Will Consume You, Hold You Captive, And Leave You Wanting Okay, so this was a re read on audio and I thought it was really cool with the multiple narrators and music and stuff But sometimes one of the voices rubbed me the wrong way and the music went from fantasy to what sounded like western music Lol Maybe it was just me I still loved the book though I am in love with Katsa She is an awesome inspiration for women warriors in a book She kicks arse and takes names I love the fact that she doesn t care anything about marriage or having kids She s like my hero I need a tshirt I wish I had her Grace The characters in the book are so wonderful, even the evil jerks are played out very well I was so happy when Katsa met Po Are they made for each other or what I don t like what happened to Po though I have a special place in my heart for Oll, Raffin, Bann, Bitterblue and Helda These are some wonderful characters with a great family friendship Katsa isn t like normal women, well that s obvious, but she doesn t care about any of the every day things women care about She even hates her long hair because it s in her way of doing what she s trying to do Katsa is Randa s mercenary and her, Oll and Giddon go out to do his bidding, although it s Katsa that dishes out the pain After some time she starts to get tired of doing this to people You will have to read the book to see where that goes Giddon is a good person, he just doesn t really understand Katsa and wants too much I enjoyed all of the fighting and sparring between Po and Katsa I loved when she was in a real fight too Not very many, but they were the best Then again, most people would walk or run away when they saw her coming anyway She s that bad and scary Did I mention Katsa has some cool eyes A lot of the Gracelings have different eyes from everyone else, but Katsa has some beautiful ones I am so glad I finally got to read this book, it is sooooo awesome