Readergirlz Roundtable: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Gilmore Girls score music
This month's readergirlz book group pick is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. (Click here to read the September 2009 issue of readergirlz.) The readergirlz divas and postergirlz gathered together to discuss this tale of fantasy, danger, and, dare we say, romance.
Lorie Ann Grover: As diva Justina Chen Headley said this month, "Action, adventure, love . . . all rolled up in a fiercely independent heroine who learns how to govern her gift and trust her heart. How could we not become smitten with Graceling?" It was an obvious choice for readergirlz. We send our congrats to Kristin for the Morris Award Nomination for an outstanding debut YA novel!
Melissa: This is totally not my thing! I'm a big "real girl" reader, so I'm always a little hesitant to go fantasy. But I fell in love with Katsa from chapter 1, and really, what's a "real girl" anyway?!
Lorie Ann: I found it to be an engrossing, fast-paced fantasy. I do love fantasy, myself. And here I fell for Po. :~)
Shelf Elf: Ditto on the falling for Po, Lorie Ann. My perfect book is set in a fantasy world that is recognizably like the real world, with romance, nail-biting action, and plenty of flawed characters. Graceling checks all those boxes. Guess it's is my perfect book!
Little Willow: I agree, Dia - I think it would have been more effective had we seen (read) it.
HWM: Yay for Graceling -- the strong girl, Po (the chemistry! the respect for each other's abilities!), political intrigue (though I wished there were more), good supporting characters, bad guys, action--this would make a great movie. Dia raises an interesting point. I never thought about how we never see Katsa kill anyone in the beginning. It would add to the character arc since we could see the horror and regret; however, I was fine the way the story was since she spends so much time despising her power and how other people react to her, how she hates how her uncle treats her like a dog to do his bidding.
Melissa: I loved her, and found her perfectly characterized for teen readers -- she's strong but stubborn, smart but impetuous, and ruled by her emotions. It's all very familiar...
Lorie Ann: I enjoyed Katsa. In my second reading, I almost found her to be acting mildly autistic at the start, as if she might have slight Aspergers. She's gifted so much that it has distracted her from learning to observe and communicate with people. An example is how she didn't realize Giddon's attraction. This adds nicely to her arc as she grows.
Shelf Elf: I think it's a real achievement that Kristin created such a powerful character, physically powerful and full of complex emotion, whom readers can also see as vulnerable.
Little Willow: Oh, yes, little Bitterblue!
Melissa: What a poised and lovely girl. And of course Katsa's gaggle of "just friends" boys... those are always fun.
Lorie Ann: Have to go with Po.
Shelf Elf: Again Lorie Ann, ditto with the Po. ;)
Lorie Ann: Katsa triumphs over her own Grace and fears, her physical environment, and the politics of evil rulers.
Dia: Katsa triumphs over the darkness in her self that has come to her through the execution of her gift.
Shelf Elf: Katsa makes the choice to use her powers for good, not evil. There's triumph in mastering yourself, in making choices to be proud of.
Little Willow: What are your hidden strengths? (Though I suppose if you answer this, they are no longer hidden!)
Shelf Elf: Dancing? I never dance publicly, but I'm great in the living room. I've got rhythm.
Little Willow: Now I'm singing and dancing to the song I've Got Rhythm! I'm a singer, dancer, and actress, but I don't hide those things. Hmmm. I think one of my hidden strengths is my resilience. I bounce back pretty well from rejection or let-down. I try to always stay optimistic and hopeful. Another would be my derring-do. When things need to be done, I get them done. It's only when others comment upon them that I realize not everyone would have done those things - that they might have thought the tasks too difficult to even attempt and stopped before they even began.
Lorie Ann: I hope it's perseverance. So far it is.
Little Willow: The condition of having eyes of two different colors, like Kat and the others who are Graced, is called heterochromia of the eye (heterochromia iridis or heterochromia iridum). What color are your eyes? Mine are brown.
Shelf Elf: Mine are the type of eyes that seem to change color depending on the light and my clothing. Most of the time they're greyish green. I've always sort of wished for eyes that were a real, deep, obvious color. I'd go with seriously green, because you don't see that very often.
Melissa: Mine are green, but they sometimes look blue. I like that -- no one ever really knows which they are. Maybe I'm a Graceling! And you too, Shelf Elf!
Lorie Ann: Mine are brown, and often red. Ha! I always thought green would be nice.
Little Willow: I like the color of my eyes and my hair (also brown) and I wouldn't permanently change the color, though I wouldn't mind doing something temporary to either for the sake of a role, because that would be for her, for my character. For me, though, I like what I have, and I like what I am. That being said, I think purple or gray (or magically silver) eyes would be pretty, because I like those colours in general.
Dia: I have gray-green eyes. When I was in high school and college I wore green-tinted contact lenses. That was fun!
Little Willow: Also consider the eye colors that are more prevalent on animals other than humans, like orange. My cats had beautiful eyes. Twinkie's were the bluest blue, truly the prettiest eyes I've ever seen - while Hollywood and Spooky had eye colors not typically seen on people, orange and gold.
Melissa: My heart stopped when Leck appeared toward the end. I didn't see it coming, and I got very scared and upset for a moment there! I guess that means the writing worked. I just adored the tale.
Dia: I love the combination of fantasy, adventure, and romance. The grand climax where Katsa confronts the king was stunning. Excellent plotting.
Shelf Elf: Gosh, she's so good at romance, and really freaky bad guys.
Shelf Elf: Like you Jackie, I'm lucky to have read Fire already. I was hoping that the characters would be as memorable as all those in Graceling. They are.
Lorie Ann: I'm totally up for whatever Kristin has brought from her heart.
Learn more about Graceling in the September 2009 issue of readergirlz.