Saturday, September 19, 2009

Staff Pick - Graceling by Kristin Cashore (part one)

In Readers’ Advisory work, we talk a lot about appeal factors of books. Despite all this talking, I’ve never really considered what I find most appealing about books. In writing these blog posts, though, I have begun to realize that character tends to be the strongest appeal factor that ties my favourite books together.

When I describe books, especially ones that I love, I often talk about the voice of the main character and it’s that voice that draws me in and hooks me. Some characters are so strong and compelling that they stay with me long after I’ve finished their book and met several new characters inhabiting vastly different worlds. Some of them are so memorable that I physically miss them after that last page has been turned.

Such is the case with Katsa, the heroine of Kristen Cashore’s tremendous debut novel, Graceling.

It’s technically a YA novel, but the characters seem ageless – certainly older than their probable years. Katsa is from the Middluns, one of seven kingdoms, each one ruled by its own king. Katsa’s eyes are two different colours, signifying that she is a Graceling. Her special Grace (or skill) seems to be killing, as she instinctively fights with breathtaking speed and deadly accuracy. Basically, Katsa kicks butt like Buffy (sorry, I’ve been challenged to continue working Buffy into as many blog posts as possible).

All Gracelings are given to their king who determines if their Grace is valuable to his service or not. If it is, they remain in his possession. Katsa is her king’s special fighting machine; she serves his will and essentially acts as his personal thug. As she begins to sicken of her role in life, Katsa forms a secret Council that protects innocent victims of immoral kings. On a secret mission, she meets another Graceling whose skills almost rival her own, and with whom she has undeniable chemistry and the potential for a powerful and rewarding relationship.

... to be continued

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