When you’ve been listening to girls fawn over books like the Twilight series for the past several years, Graceling makes you want to stand up and cheer. Cashore’s lead, Katsa, is strong and independent. She has her own desires for what her life must look like and is determined to see them through. Indeed, I found myself panicking towards the end of the book. Cashore had set Katsa up in such a way, that if the tale ended with what I’ll call a “standard” ending so as to not spoil, I would have been furious and possibly felt tricked. This was not the case. Cashore saw her protagonist to the end and did not force Katsa to do what was not in her nature. Finishing the book took a great weight off of me. The author did not let down her characters or her readers.
And even though Katsa is strong and independent, she was not without her lessons that needed to be learned. Independent is good, as long as it’s not hurting others. I saw lessons in learning temperance, discipline, and trust. There is romance, and complex romance at that, all the better to be more like the confusion that most young women experience.
The two critiques I have on writing style is Cashore’s repeated use of the word “laughter” or “laughing” and their constant pulling at their hair. This are minor and have no effect on the plot. I simply noticed that the characters did a lot of laughing and not too much other things such as guffawing, chortling, or giggling. It happened enough that I picked up on it. Same with the second complaint, the pulling of hair. Often, the characters would pull on their own hair in frustration. It happened so often that it became comical in my mind. I couldn’t fathom pulling on my hair that often out of frustration and everyone else I know doing it as well. These are two minor details and in a debut novel.
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