Thursday, October 4, 2012

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

- Graceling Realm #1
Release date: October 1st 2008
Published by: Harcourt
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

In a world where people born with an extreme skill - called a Grace - are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is 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...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't have high expectations when it came to Graceling. I've seen some really good reviews around lately, people loving this book to death, but for me, it wasn't all that good. I'm not saying that Graceling is a bad book (far from it!) but it didn't hold my attention the way I wanted to. It took me nearly three weeks to read a 400-page book, and that's too much for me. 

The world-building and the characters are really solid, and when I say solid, I mean it. They're consistent, and complex enough for you to understand their motivations, but still know that there's more to it than it looks like. I've learned to read Katsa's point of view and think of her like a real person, not a character. That's pretty damn impressive. Kristin Cashore has a way with words, and because of that, she can create realistic scenarios and beautiful descriptions that are as detailed as possible without being boring. 

I had no idea what to expect from Po and Katsa's relationship - on the summary it says that they become friends, but I've seen a lot of people saying that they're cute as a couple, so I didn't know what to believe - and I was incredibly satisfied when Kristin Cashore took this aspect of the book down to a whole different road. I can say for sure that their romance, and their friendship, are intertwined, and it's as perfect as it can possibly be. I'm happy about how this turned out. 

However, I had a hard time connecting with everything in Graceling. I could see how the descriptions were beautiful and could be very engaging, but it failed to capture me. I wasn't enthralled by Katsa's awesome fighting skills - they were very cool, though - and while I understood and liked Po a lot, I didn't fall for him, not the way I wanted to. Graceling was pretty entertaining, but I'm afraid I can't say it's one of my favorites. I will continue reading this series, though. It has a lot of promise, and I still hope that Cashore will manage to wow me and show me what she's really capable of doing with her readers. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Lost Prince, by Julie Kagawa

- The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1
Publication date: October 23rd 2012
To be published by: Harlequin Teen
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

It's no secret that I love Julie Kagawa's books. The Iron Fey is one of my favorite series ever, and The Immortal Rules enchanted me in a wonderful way. I had high expectations for The Lost Prince, obviously, and though it didn't disappoint me, I still had some issues with it, especially when it came to Ethan himself. 

I was used to see Faery through Meghan's eyes, and now that we have a new main character and the same world through a different POV, it all changed. I still felt that rush of familiarity with the faeries, and Nevernever, but I couldn't connect with Ethan the same way I did with Meghan. It wasn't just the fact that he's a different person, but because it's weird to see a grown-up Ethan. I knew him as little Ethan, Meghan's younger brother who loved her and was only a victim. Now, he's this badass, trouble boy with this badboy vibe, and this difference made me hesitate. Because of that, I was unable to feel the rest of the story the way I was supposed to. I'm sad that this has happened to me, but at the same time, this allowed me to focus on something else - the secondary characters. 

Keirran, Meghan, Grimalkin, Ash, Puck - they made it all up for me. I was so, so happy that they appeared in The Lost Prince. Keirran, especially, was a treat. It was wonderful to know Meghan's son, to see him interact with his uncle. Keirran reminded me so much of Ash and Meghan - he had Ash's personality, from the way he looked at people to his badass skills; and he had Meghan's heart. To put it in a simple and direct way, I loved him more than I loved Ethan, and while that was expected, it still surprised me. I expected Julie Kagawa to win me over with her characters once more - I just didn't expect these characters to be the secondary ones. 

The plot and pace of The Lost Prince were carefully controlled; it had its slow parts, of course, but they weren't boring, not really. There was so many things going on it was impossible for the story to slow down enough for it to be boring. The only aspect of this book that didn't win me over in the slightest was the romance. Kenzie was an interesting girl, and she had a good chemistry with Ethan, but it didn't work out for me. It wasn't exactly insta-love, but it was close to it, and I didn't enjoy it. I hope their relationship will be more explored in the second book, and while I wasn't thrilled by the idea of a romance blossoming between these two, I'll keep an open mind about it. Who knows? Kagawa has blew my mind more than once. I'm sure she can do it again. 

Overall, The Lost Prince was a really great book. It failed to blow my mind, unfortunately, but the rest of the story - the plot, the pace, the action scenes, the writing, the secondary characters, and the world-building - was so engaging that I can't bear to give this book less than 4 stars. Julie Kagawa's world felt like going home, and for that, I'm grateful. I'm excited to read The Traitor Son, and to see more of Ethan Chase and his adventures. I'm pretty sure he'll surprise me in the future. 

A review copy was provided by the publishers via Netgalley. Thank you!