Listen as Bryan and Robert use their Grace of killer book reviewing! This week, check out their review of Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
Bryan’s quick summary:
In a world where a select few possess special talents known as graces that can range from dancing to swimming, Katsa’s power is killing. She’s been forced to use her abilities for her tyrannical uncle for most of her life, but when a kidnapping plot reveals much more below the surface, Katsa must team with another Graced fighter to save a young girl and an entire kingdom.
Graceling is by Kristin Cashore
So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)
1. (Bryan) I needed to ditch the audio for this one because it was terrible, but once I picked up the e-book, it was much better.
2. (Robert) This is an excellent debut, and a great magic-with-superpowers world. The fight scenes and excellent, and Katsa’s seemingly uncontrollable anger and volatility match her Grace’s powers.
3. (Bryan) We’ve almost got three books in one here. The training, the journey, and the Bitterblue rescue. I’m not sure which one I liked the best, but there was a definite divide between the three.
NOTE from Robert: There is a strong romance theme, and Katsa is a very opinionated feminist who submits to seemingly casual sex. Not for the under-15s. and certainly not for those who have a strong Christian ethic or belief (which I don’t). It didn’t bother me at all, and the choices Katsa made were fine within the boundaries of the story-world, and made sense. But if this is possibly offensive to you, I suggest you read some of the less positive reviews – this might be a book you avoid. But this also might be the very reason so many young women have recommended this book! (Well technically, two … but that’s a lot for us!)
What did we think from a writer’s perspective?
1. (Bryan) For a fantasy book, it’s lighter on description and heavier on dialogue than most. I don’t mind that, but it’s definitely apart from the norm.
2. (Robert) This is a well-written and well edited story. I don’t agree with the 1-star reviewers that Katsa is a “Mary Sue” character. Just because she has amazing strength and power (don’t make this one angry!) and seems to be able to survive and fight just about anything, does not mean she ain’t flawed!
3. (Bryan) A note on audio: full cast audio productions need to be very good to work.
Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:
1. A powerful villain goes a long way to making your book better.
2. If your story has a clear goal, make sure there is a very good – and plausible – reason for turning away from that goal. Cashore only just gets away with this, in my opinion, because her writing and description is so good.
3. Not all fantasy tropes need to be in a fantasy – this one is simple and unique magic resulting in some kind of superpower, in a mediaeval setting.
Prompt of the Week:
What’s the scariest Grace you could end up with? Would you hide these new abilities from your friends and family? Why or why not?