This was not an easy one for me to get into. I was sitting, jittery, at the Hartford Airport, waiting for my first solo flight, and Graceling felt like something I ought to read. Plot-driven YA can distract me and help me focus on something else when I’m not wired to concentrate on anything else, and the day before, I’d gotten the email about the YA librarian interview, so reading YA seemed like a good use of time. I’d also heard Graceling, often, in the same breath as The Hunger Games, one of the best books I read last year. So I knew I really ought to give it a try.
But the name Katsa sounded too much like Katniss (even now I have to think before typing), and I felt self-conscious the slightly lurid cover, with its swords and beautiful dangerous eyes all over and, well. Plus, I haven’t read high fantasy since forever. So I kept getting distracted by silly names (Po? A hero named Po?!) and having to skim over geography (never a strong suit of mine, and forever hampering my appreciation of Lord of the Rings).
But Graceling was the book at hand, the book I gripped numbly as I shuffled onto the first plane, and the book I was halfway through by the time I got to Tallahassee. And I’m still thinking about it. Graceling is fluff, I guess, but pretty compelling fluff, and fluff that (to my limited experience, anyway), seems to test the boundaries and conventions of fantasy in interesting ways, especially in terms of romance and reproductive rights (though I thought passages there got a bit didactic at times). So, even if I’m not sure what I thought of Graceling, I’m mostly through Cashore’s Fire now.