Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, July 14, 2012

Plot Summary:
Katsa is not like any other girl in the seven kingdoms. In her world, certain children, of gracelings, are blessed with gifts called graces where some are gifted with the art of music, dancing, cooking, etc. For Katsa, her grace is the art of killing; everyone knew Katsa was a graceling because of the color of her eyes: one green and one blue. When she accidentally killed her lecherous cousin, she thought her life was over and then her uncle, King Randa, took a chance on her. Rather than fearing her gift, he decided to use her as a weapon; whenever the kingdom was threatened, or Randa wanted someone dead, it was Katsa's job to see it through. Katsa never wanted her gift, nor did she want to have the responsibility to take human lives, but when she learned of the injustices that were occurring in the neighboring kingdoms, she decided to use her gift for greater good. With the help of her cousin, Prince Raffin, the head spy for Randa, Oll, and Giddon, a noble, she created The Council whose sole purpose was to protect the people from those who prey upon them. The riskiest aspect of the group's formation is that every meeting, every mission, and every detail must be kept secret and no one could tell King Randa. The latest mission from the Council is to retrieve the grandfather prince, Tealiff, from King Murgon. Although no one knows why the elderly grandfather of King Roc of Lienid would be kidnapped, Katsa and the Council set out to find those responsible. Although three of the neighboring kingdoms don't get along, the possibility of alliances forming to overthrow the other kingdoms is very likely. However, during the rescue mission, Katsa meets as a formidable opponent, named Po, who is not only the grandson of Prince Tealiff, but a powerful graceling just like her. The more she gets to know Po, she starts to realize her own vulnerabilities, which help her realize that she is not the monster that people make her out to be. As Po and Katsa set off to find Prince Tealiff's kidnapper, they not only learn the truth about a beloved King, they also learn the horrors that befalls those he ensnares.

Critical Evaluation:
Graceling is an amazing adventure filled with mystery, love, tragedy and triumph. Kristin Catshore has written an addictive story where the heroine is not only extraordinary, but incredibly insecure and vulnerable. Although this idea can be said about a lot of strong women, Katsa's experiences and skill convey just how complicated she really is. Known as lady killer, Katsa is seen as someone to fear. Although people avert her eyes, and her wrath, we, as the reader, have the chance to see Katsa as someone with good intentions, courage, and strength. Yeah, so she can break an arm with twist or snap a neck with a flick, she is finally given the opportunity to do something she never though she could do...control her power. I absolutely love the dynamic between the characters simply because they make up the family that Katsa never had. Her cousin, Raffin, is just downright adorable because he is the complete opposite of Katsa, which makes him endearing. Po, just like Raffin, is also the exact opposite, but in a good way. There is that age old phrase that opposites attract, but for Po and Katsa, that phrase doesn't do them any justice. For the first time in her life, Katsa is beginning to feel something more for Po than Raffin. Although she has said she would never marry or have children, Katsa forgot one major element when it comes to marriage and a family: love. Although Giddon proposed marriage to her, she refused because she didn't see her life as a queen and because she didn't love him. Granted, Katsa is a bit of a newbie when it comes to the opposite sex, readers see that she is falling in love with Po, which not only proves that Katsa is like any other human: she wants to love and be loved. What makes this book amazing is the character development, action, and plot twist so readers will be begging for the next book.

Information about the Author:
According to her blog:
I grew up in the countryside of northeastern Pennsylvania in a village with cows and barns and beautiful views from the top of the hill and all that good stuff. I lived in a rickety old house with my parents, three sisters, and a scattering of cats, and I READ READ READ READ READ. I read while brushing my teeth, I read while chopping parsley, the first thing I reached for when I woke up in the morning was my book; the only two places I didn't read were in the car and in bed. What did I do then? The one thing I liked even more than reading: I daydreamed.

At 18 I went off to college-- thank you, Williams College, for the financial aid that made this possible-- and it almost killed me. College is hard, man, and the Berkshires are cloudy. A (phenomenal) year studying abroad in sunny Sydney revived me. After college I developed a compulsive moving problem: New York City, Boston, Cambridge, Austin, Pennsylvania, Italy, and even a short stint in London, where my showerhead hung from the cutest little stand that was exactly like the cradle of an old-fashioned telephone. The best phone calls are the pretend phone calls made from your telephone tub.

During my stint in Boston, I got an M.A. at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. (Thank you, Simmons, for the scholarship that made this possible!) Grad school almost killed me, but I felt a lot more alive than when I was almost being killed in college. The Simmons program is stupendous. It got me thinking and breathing YA books. It got me writing.

Teen Fantasy, Teen Adventure

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 8 & up

Books Similar to Graceling:
 Awards & Recognition:
  • 2009 William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist 
  • California Young Reader Medal Award Winner
  • Starred review Publisher's Weekly (7/1/2008)
  • Starred review Kirkus Review (9/1/2008)
  • Starred review School Library Joural (10/1/2008)

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I started this book, but never got the chance to finish it since I borrowed it from the library. I see now that I should finish it, since you gave it an awesome review! Thanks for the review :)

  2. Hi, Krystianna!

    I can assure you that you won't be sorry because as you get through the story there are quite a bit moments my heart skipped a beat! It's really well written and I love a story where the girl doesn't look for the boy to complete her, but compliment her. Enjoy!


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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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