Saturday, May 1, 2010

Speak Your Mind

This week for SYM I would like to welcome Andrea from Loud Words and Sounds to the madness!  The team is now a trio!  Speak Your Mind is a feature where Aly, Andrea and I will all share our opinions and discuss a certain book.  This weeks feature is Graceling by Kristin Cashore!

Synopsis: Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none more so than Katsa, who's expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.

My Review: Graceling is one of the most original stories in YA fiction out there.  In a world where people are hated and feared because of their gifts, you can't help but feel sympathetic for Katsa.  Able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight, Katsa has been constantly used and manipulated by her uncle.  On one of her uncle's errands, she stumbles across another graced fighter who soon changes Katsa's world. Katsa, always living with the knowledge that she is considered a weapon and not a human being, doesn't know  how to truly live her life.  Katsa is tough, stubborn, hard-headed, kick-ass, and honorable.  She always tries to do right by others, even at the expense of herself.  Katsa is a young woman I greatly admire.  If I could be any literary character she would be my number one choice.  Po is a wonderful compliment to Katsa as well.  I think I fell in love as soon as it was mentioned that he had silver and gold eyes.  I mean come on!  How could you not just fall head over heels into those metalic pools of glory?!  Okay, so I got a bit ahead of myself, but I guarantee you will fall madly in love.  

Aside from the very two dynamic and amazing main characters, Graceling takes you through some twists and turns in the plot as well.  Going into it I expected more of a straightforward story line.  Surprise, surprise for me when there was a huge plot twist.  Unexpected and truly horrific things occur and Katsa has to make an unimaginable choice.  The second part of the novel will have you clutching to the pages to find out what happens next.  Danger after danger followed by yet again more danger.  This book will never leave you bored or wanting for action, believe me it is filled with it! 

Andrea's Review:

I found this novel very very enjoyable. I loved the main characters Katsa and Po, and I felt like they were really well written about. The minute I started the novel it was like I was drawn into the world of Katsa. And ever time Katsa felt sad or was happy, I felt like I was feeling that also. Kristin Cashore with this makes this book so amazing and enjoyable that I could not put this down. And the prequel Fire is amazing too.

After being recommended by one of my friends, I was a little reluctant. I hadn't really read any fantasy like Graceling since I had read the Inheritance Cycle or The Cry of the Icemark Series, and I was reluctant to read this novel seeing as I had never been a large fantasy reader. However this novel has sparked my interest in this type of fantasy.

The characters of Katsa and Po are both amazingly crafted. I loved the way the Katsa wants to be an independent woman in a world that wants her married away. And Katsa is amazing in the way of her goals, she set goals then fulfills them, which reminds me of myself in away. Po is the other major main character, and I'm just saying he's to swoon for. No longer will I think of male characters the same in fantasy after reading about him. There is also several other characters, and Bitterblue, Po's cousin is one of them. She's younger (I forget the exact age), but she goes through some terrible things in Graceling, and isn't affected by it really that the reader can see. And I think that's why her name is the title for the next book, well there's stuff at the end of Graceling that leads to this title but I won't say why.

You just need to pick up Graceling by Kristin Cashore if you haven't already. It's an amazing book, and needs to not sit on everyones long TBR list.

Aly's Review:
So since Andrea and Kyleigh have shared their thoughts, guess its my turn!!:)

Katsa is everything I love in a female character, strong, fast, witty with a temper that’s all over the place a bit arrogant, and mean when she has to be. Ok does that sound really bad? I guess I'm just sick of the typical shy girl who needs a big strong man to whisk her away, Katsa was far of from any of that and therefore a pleasant change. Oh but don’t be fooled, at some points the extent of her arrogance did annoy me, how she was ruthless yet felt no remorse, how killing seemed so normal to her and just like a task as simple as taking your dog out for a walk, but then again that could have been down to upbringing and her grace, what got to me was, fair enough you kill, you don’t want to kill right you don't have much of a choice huh?, so then why don’t you feel anything after you’ve killed that person, don’t you think that person had a brother, a sister, a mother? there seemed to be no regret involved and so I wasn’t at first sure what I would think of her, but as the story progressed so did Katsa , I watched her grow from a girl to a women.  I can relate to her also, through her denial, her strong front, I felt like I knew the real her before she showed us that side of her, and as each layer unraveled, it was a sweet moment to see the new Katsa to see how far she had come.

What I liked about her was her independence, she did what she felt was right even when she didn’t have much of choice, where so used to seeing this rough hard edged Katsa that when Po comes along and you eventually see her let herself ease and relax a little, its quite a lovely moment I think, she lets her guard down, and lets him become a friend, something which she hasn’t had much of throughout her life,

She hasn’t had a childhood, she has grown up to fast and all she has ever known is fighting, she’s fiercely competitive, but once again we see her in a new light once she sees Po, I think i knew something was going to be different as soon as Po was introduced, you could sense the energy surrounding them both, I cant say that its so obvious, that there would be something between the two, because Katsa isn’t the type of girl who would just fall for a cute guy, she’s not your typical heroine and so her actions and choices aren’t typical,. she’s the type of girl who would swap a sword for a man any day, but when she sees Po she finds something that is much different a companion someone who seems to understand her, I think that’s what’s most important to her, I think Bitterblue is the one to look out for personally, Po was there he had been accepted by Katsa but i feel that Bitterblue was the first real person Katsa loved and took in, that involves a lot of trust, something Katsa doesn’t give out very often so why make an exception In Bitterblue,

She has killed many in her years so what does Bitterblue have to offer in return that she is provided with a Killers love and protection?? I felt drawn to Bitterblue very quickly, I adored her character and thought she was adorable, all in all this is a fantastic book, if your looking for a change form your average boy meets girl book this will be one of the most refreshing reads you have held in a long time with an instant thrill, if you liked Catching Fire, you will love Graceling!:)


Aly: So Andrea personally for you what would you say was the highlight moment of the book?

Andrea: Personally I think the part were Katsa decides to go off with Po was the highlighting moment of the book. I found I wanted to read more, find out what they were doing, and of coarse find out if they were going to have a romance. Because I'm just a romance junky :P. But ya I would have to say when the book went into part two (The Twisted King) that was the highlighting part of the Graceling.

Ky: Okay Aly here's your question! If you could have any Grace, what would it be?

 Aly: wow i think that's probably one of the greatest questions you could have asked me.. hmmmm if i was graced i would like the ability to be the greatest fighter, Tai chi, karate , all of it! i don't think hardly anyone knows this but i am a great Bruce Lee fan, and i think fighting styles like Tai Chi can be extremely spiritual, fighting i feel if its done in the right way can be a release, so yes to be the best fighter would be my dream Grace thanks for that one my dear :)

Andrea: Almas, who is your favorite character? And your favorite scene in the book? I know you well so I'm saying Po. But I'm not sure.

Aly: I would have to say Bitterblue actually, although Po is second, I found Bitterblue to be just really strong and wise beyond her years, she'd make a great Katsa for the future , I just felt connected to this young child who had faced so much yet still sought friendship now that takes courage, plus I adored her name :)  My favorite part is when Katsa finally realises she has feelings for Po, shes so closed of throughout the book and hard, and emotionless, and tends to have this arrogance about her that she refused to accept it for a long time, and when she did I wanted to shake her and say, thank you women seriously! But it nearly broke my heart when she left him behind I thought I'd never forgive her for that arghh depressing thoughts must stop! :)

Ky:  Andrea, what do you think about Katsa's decision to remain independent in her love life? I adore Po so it kind of blew that she didn't want to make their relationship more permanent. Though I still respect the fact that she wanted to remain true to herself and her desires. What do you think?

Andrea:  I think, personally, that more will be discovered about Po and Katsa's relationship in Bitterblue, the next book in the series. But I think that she sticks by her reasons because she believes in her self. She's also taking the fact she has the right to do what she wants with her body seriously. But Katsa has some unsolved ghosts, and I think that's what 's keeping her from Po. Po is her equal, one hundred percent and I love him for respecting Katsa the way he does, but he deserves love. And I think sooner or later Katsa will stay put and fall in love with Po, even though I think she already is.

Almas: Ky, what do you think is Katsa' worst quality and why?

Ky:That's a toughy. I would have to say that Katsa's worst quality is her empathy level. I agree with your earlier statements that she has no remorse for killing and she does it blindly. Just because she is graced with being able to kill someone with her bare hands, doesn't mean she HAS to. At one time in the novel she spares a guy punishment, why could she not done that at other times. I don't know. It just seems like "Okay so Katsa you can take out 10 men easily. How in the world could the King possibly punish you for disobeying?" As the novel progresses she does indeed get better and seems to grow a more prominent conscious. It still doesn't seem to really make up for her earlier lack of it however.

 Andrea: Ky, as an artist (since you are one :) ), what do you think about the picture that Kristin Cashore paints in the readers mind? And of the awesome map in the front of the book?

Ky: I think Cashore paints a beautiful rendition of Katsa's world through not only words, but playing off of the readers imagination. It's only so much to give a map to help guide the reader. Cashore vividly describes not only the characters but the outside world as well. I think your imagination takes care of the rest. :D