Disclaimer: I rant quite a bit in this review but I don’t mean any disrespect to you if you love this book or to the author. These are just my personal thoughts, thank you for understanding!
So Graceling is a supremely popular YA fantasy, and very much beloved by the book community. Sadly I didn’t enjoy as much as everyone else, so I wanted to share my thoughts!
Katsa is supposedly a “strong” female protagonist, but I think the author got confused on what that really means. Sure, Katsa can beat up anyone within a ten mile radius but that’s roughly about it. See, Katsa isn’t a person, she’s a plot device. Put there just so the author can say “Yeah, feminism!” and cue the mic drop. Speaking of one dimensional characters, Po.
FOR THE LAST TIME, FEMINISM DOES NOT MEAN MARGINALIZING THE OPPOSITE GENDER, IT MEANS EQUALITY BETWEEN THE TWO.
While Katsa was off being a cliche, completely unthorough character, Po was over here being nothing but a love interest. Literally, I just summed up his entire role in the story. Always like,”Hey, you’re cool and there’s something off about the king.” WE GET IT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO REPEAT YOURSELF A MILLION TIMES. And there was nothing about Bitterblue that appealed to me. Every single character in this book had absolutely no depth or personality. Half the time, they were just plain stupid.
OKAY I’M REALLY ANGRY ABOUT THIS BUT THE WORLD???
This was one of my first YA fantasies so obviously seeing a detailed map at the beginning excited me. I wanted a fleshed-out world, and while the characters disappointed I hoped for so much more from the world. Nope. The sheer…amount…of just plain traveling that is done against what is quite honestly the plainest fantasy backdrop ever created threw me. Half the book was spent traveling in a forest, and another quarter on a mountain. You’d think that at least there would be some type of variety, some fantastical happening but nope again. Same old trees, same old encounters, same old Katsa and Po arguments. This is supposed to be a stand-alone, WHY THE MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP WOULD I NEED TO READ COMPANION NOVELS TO PREVENT SEEING THE SAME OLD INN MULTIPLE TIMES???
But here’s the kicker…THAT PREDICTABLE PLOT
I just need a moment because even after all this time, despite the fact that I was new to the game at the time that I read this… I PREDICTED EVERYTHING. There was one plot twist the entire book and its never fully, again, fleshed out. And remember Po? His only use comes here and guess who screws everything up royally?
HECK YEAH THIS GUY
I still continued forwards thinking, “hey, I’m sure the ending will be good though right?” Ha…ha…ha…talk about anti-climatic. The ending didn’t make a bucket load of hot potato crap sense, you know why? The entire book, its building up to a climax. Despite the boring traveling, despite the boring characters, this book kept me going(that and the whole Grace thing are why the high stars.) However, the ending just…happened? I actually thought it was a joke because it was too easy. It was like Cashore got tired of writing about the practically non existent plot and get back to her romance.
Guys…this is truly what I hate most about this book. Despite its flaws, I didn’t DNF cuz it was interesting at the time. But this? This is unforgivable(in my book.) And here it is:
The view on marriage. Oh. that had me steaming. Katsa doesn’t want to get married because she thinks its confining? And wishy-washy? Um, what about all the girls who are awesome and clever and don’t take no crap from no man and still want to get married? I believe that if you have a voice in the world, you shouldn’t be shoving your opinion down your audience’s throats like Cashore does!
Especially when that audience is packed with impressionable young people (like me!) and you’re teaching them marriage is bad? Its’s one thing to be making a point but a completely different thing to close your mind to the other side.
Objectively, this book isn’t the best choice. Enjoyment wise, it has some entertaining parts but it fails in the grand scheme of the book.