Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Atuhor: Kristin Cashore
Publication: October 1st, 2008
Genre: YA fantasy
Rating: 5 stars!
Goodreads Summary:
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.

When she first meets Prince Po, 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...
Graceling is probably the oldest book in my TBR, not based on release date but my interest in it. It took me 6 years to finally read it and if I have known how awesome Katsa is, I would have read it ions ago!

Katsa is graced with the skill of fighting, and her uncle uses her as a, like the summary says, his thug. To hurt others into submission. Because of this, Katsa does not have a positive view of the world, or men. I absolutely loved how Po, the love interest, respected Katsa for having the superior strength. He never looked down on her or had a bruised ego about it. He accepted it and he accepted Katsa. That respect is so powerful to read about.

Another thing that makes this book a dream is that Kristin Cashore never alters Katsa's views on marriage or kids. Because Katsa had a rough life that was spent harming others, she does not want to ever have children and bring them into this cruel world and after being controlled as weapon by her uncle, she doesn't want to give herself to marriage.

I know this is a source of frustration for some readers, but I applaud Kristin Cashore for going this route. Some women do not want children or marriage. It is okay. That does not mean we should force that on them as the ultimate, factual belief all women should have. As someone who who would like to get married and have kids one day, I wasn't offended by Katsa's views. On the contrary, I respect her views and admire her for taking those actions and for doing what SHE WANTS. I would have hated to see the book go in the route of love cures all, even your beliefs and that women's ONLY happily ever after is marriage. Because the fact is, this is a problem today. Women get criticized for not wanting kids and their view is treated like its some sort of disease they can be healed of. 

I want variety in YA that showcases that its okay if you don't want something that everyone wants.  For readers to see that its okay to feel the same way as Katsa. Katsa is in love with Po. They do have a relationship but because Katsa doesn't want marriage, Po respects that and agrees to continue with their relationship without sealing it with marriage. 

I love that Kristin Cashore gave Katsa the love she deserves but she didn't erase her values, her beliefs, her history when she fell in love and curing her of "wrong" beliefs. She never treats her views as wrong or a plot point that Po will save about Katsa. She also does not view Katsa's view on the issue as what's actually right and that not wanting marriage is actually better. But instead we have Katsa's individual  case and what's best for her because of her history and experiences and I just LOVED THAT. I love having a heroine who does grow throughout the book and learn to become vulnerable and opens up to love but does not lose herself or core beliefs when the hero "saves" her from her life.

On top of all that, this book is sex positive. So yeah, this is a new favorite that I will always reread.

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