Feb 13, 2011

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This is quality young adult fiction. The writing is good, though not fantastic, the characters are real and engaging, and the story is linear but well thought out. Graceling is the story if Katsa, a king's niece Graced with killing. In this world, children who's eyes settle into two different colors are Graced: some with dance, swimming, fighting, mind reading, seeing, among various other characteristics. Anything can be a Grace, and some are more useful than others. Of the seven kingdoms, six hold Gracelings apart from society; they are shunned if their Grace is considered useless, and given over to the king if they are useful.

The story follows Katsa and another Graceling, Po, on their journey to discover the reason behind the kidnapping of Po's grandfather, a prince of Lienid. The details behind the kidnapping are rather horrific, and I do question whether the subject matter is entirely appropriate for young readers. The accusation is never explicitly made, but is clear enough, and disturbing enough to bother most readers, regardless of their age.

That being said, I do believe that young adult fiction should not be whitewashed. Young people think just as dark thoughts as adults, and deserve to have a genre that doesn't shy away from that. When that is added to a good story, and a good writing style, you get a truly enjoyable book. I'll definitely be hanging onto this one.

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