I'd give this read 5/5 Graced friends.
*Sorry for the poor image quality, I borrowed this book from my manager and forgot to take better photos of it!*
First I must point out that my boss has good taste in books, haha! I was lucky enough to have him recommend and trust me to let borrow this book to read. While the beginning was slow going for me, once I was largely through part one I became invested and I couldn't put it down, resulting in finishing it in one night. The story is about a girl named Katsa who is gifted (or cursed in a sense) with the grace (or power) to kill. Or so she is led to believe from childhood. The story takes her on a journey of discovery about her grace, the nearby kingdoms and people in her world, and who she is as a person.
I've always been drawn to characters like Katsa (and the wonderful Po for that matter). Strong willed, fighting for a good cause, in this case person freedom to live the life one chooses, as well as the Council, and later Po and Bitterblue both. These characters have so much life to them! I really enjoyed that none of the main characters were pushovers. Each character was able to hold their own in a physical fight as well as a mental (and at times emotional fight, thinking Bitterblue here). In regards to Katsa, Po, and Bitterblue they each were able to hold their own as well as be willing to work together and sacrifice their personal comfort and well being for another.
The story itself made me pull a few similarities between it and other stories such as "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard, "Divergent" by Veronica Roth, the "Uglies" series by Scott Westerfeld, "The Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins, and even loosely to "The Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare in regards to the parental issues between "Graceling"'s Bitterblue and King Leck and "The Mortal Instruments"'s Clary Fray and Valentine.
The Graceling realm pulled me in unexpectedly and I'm grateful to have read such a story. I look forward to reading the next stories from Kristin Cashore soon.
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...