Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Bitterblue

Synopsis: Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

My Review: So finally the long awaited 3rd book in the Graceling world! Bitterblue was definitely worth the wait! I adored both Graceling and Fire, and Bitterblue was an equally intriguing story.  Set eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea.  Though she is now in a position of power and has the ability to truly do what is right for her people, she is lost amongst the sea of advisors around her.  She's kept at her desk, buried underneath piles of papers.  She was trapt in the castle as a child by her father, and now free from his influence she is still a prisoner.  In an act of rebellion and a desire to really get to know her city she sneaks out of the castle into the city below.  What she finds truly shocks her.  The forward thinking policies pushed at her by her advisors are having no affect on the people.  Most of the population cannot even read.  Buildings are in a state of disrepair, but are freshly painted.  Most terrifying is the fact that Leck's influence, though long dead, remains.  As Bitterblue see's the truth for herself it becomes glaringly obvious that she is being lied to.  Who is doing so isn't necessarily the problem, but why.

Kristin Cashore won me over with her detailed world building and endearing characters from her very first book.  Bitterblue is equally as enthralling.  I had trouble putting the book down, I just couldn't get enough.  I finished the last page, turned the page and just stared in shock at the blank page.  I wanted more! Though this baby was a good 500+ pages I desperately wanted more of Bitterblue and her friends.  Of course our favorite pair of Graceling lovers are in this.  Katsa and Po are definitely strong influences in Bitterblue's life, though we see more of Po than we do Katsa.  And they're just as adorable as ever.  A lot of other character's from Graceling are there as well, so it really made for a full cast.  Of course there are some new character's as well.  The two do-gooding thieves that Bitterblue meets by chance were absolutely lovable.  Teddy was absolutely adorable.  I just wanted to hug him ever time he was in a scene.   And Saf was awesome as well.  With his stunning slightly variated purple eyes.  Oh yes, he's a Graceling.  He's also a born Monsean, but has the appearance of a Leneid.   And most mysterious of all, he doesn't know what his Grace is.  Saf and Teddy steal back what has been stolen from Leck's reign.  They make for unlikely allies for Bitterblue, and in Saf's case, an unlikely love.

Kristin did a great job of keeping the audience on their toes.  As piece after piece emerges to the puzzle, more and more shit just keeps piling up.  A couple of assassination attempts, secret rooms being discovered, and eventually Leck's own deep dark secrets emerge.  She also did a great job of merging the Graceling world with Fire.  I've always wondered what exactly she was going to do with that.

I really loved Bitterblue as a narrator as well.  Both Katsa and Fire had been special with their Grace and Monster abilities, and Bitterblue is just plain old normal.  I thought it might make her a bit boring in comparison, but she really was a strong character all by herself.  For someone so young she has to make incredibly hard decisions that affect hundreds of people.  She handled herself very well and was an amazingly determined, smart young woman.  Really loved her.

So much happens in this book! It is truly a monster in thickness.  I tried really hard to be as vague as possible but still give a good feel for the book.  I hope I didn't accidentally let anything slip! It was truly a wonderful read.  I hope this isn't the last we'll see of Bitterblue, Katsa, and Fire.  I felt like the ending definitely left a lot of things open so I'm hoping for another book.  *crosses fingers*