Date Finished: July 14, 2010
Summary: People who are Graced are given a special talent and Katsa's is killing. People can tell who the Graced are by their different colored eyes. Katsa has blue and green eyes. When she saves a kidnapped ruler of a foreign kingdom, she meets Po, a man with silver and gold eyes that is Graced with fighting. Despite saving people, Katsa has been used by her uncle for her killing ability. Katsa decides to stand up for herself and takes back her control. She and Po go to save Princess Bitterblue from a cruel and evil king, who is also her father.
Likes: This story reminded me what I liked about fantasy. I liked the writing and the world building. The world was fantastic. I like the idea that some Graces are useless and not everyone is gifted with something as extraordinary as fighting or killing. I love the writing itself. It was simple, yet evocative and it made the story for me. The writing style with like a shout out to Tamora Pierce's Lioness Quartet and all epic fantasies before it. I look forward to reading more about this world, despite my dislikes in the following section.
Dislikes: This story reminded me everything I dislike about fantasy as well. The story is just a series of conveniences. There was no tension on anything, even the final Katsa's grace was convenient and so was Po's. Everything worked out fine in the end. Katsa and Po get together early on and it seems to never be mentioned again(until the epilogue). It seems like all sexual tension was diffused because of that scene. I personally don't see why it was necessary and there were better places for this scene to be placed.
Bitterblue (argh, what kind of name is that?) was surprisingly mature, not like a normal 10 year at all. It's understandable, but there's never a point in time where her calm composure comes undone. Even when witnessing the deaths of her family members, she cries, but her emotions seem so reserved to experience so much like that. I can understand that both Katsa and Bitterblue were strong girls, but Katsa was easily reduced to blubbering when confronted with Po's proposal. Her reactions seemed too extreme. When a situation called for anger, she was full of rage. When a situation called for sadness, she went through depression. I thought that she was an okay character, but it seemed like she written to be the tough anti-girl, so when it was time for her to act "feminine", her reactions were just over the top and melodramatic for me.
Overall: I wasn't impressed with this story. It was an interesting read, but it took me a long time to get through. There were certain things that had me rolling my eyes and putting the book down to do something else (like write). I was interested in what was going to happen, but things were solved way to quickly and way too clean (well, not exactly clean, but you know what I mean). That being said, I'm in love with the author's writing style and look forward to reading Fire and any other books that she writes (I hear she's writing a novel about Bitterblue)
Recommended by: I've heard about it on the internet, then I recommended it to my friend, who read it before me.
Edit: So the friend and I discussed this last night (and morning for her or something because she was in Europe). I can appreciate that Katsa played a role that was typically given to guys. It would have been so easy for the author to switch the roles of Po and Katsa and make Katsa the damsel in distress. I'm SOOO glad the author didn't resort to that. However on the other hand, things were just too convenient. I really wanted to know where Katsa's Grace ended and where her actual personality began. I believe that her greatest limitation was herself, but that storyline (as well as many others) was diffused too quickly. That was what I found disappointing more so than the novel itself.
Acquired: I got it the library.