Jan 10, 2011

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

I was prepared to give Graceling, by Kristin Cashore a four-star recommendation. I was impressed through the entire novel with Cashore's clean writing, the character's moral standards, and a refreshing and tight plot...right up until the sex scene.

Katsa is Graced with unnatural strength and used as a hit-man (or is it hit-girl?) to inflict terror upon those defying her Uncle (the king over one of the seven kingdoms). Someone with a "Grace" is defined by two different colored eyes, eyes that the unGraced fear to meet. A Grace is a fearful thing and, most of all, it's unpredictable. Katsa hates killing, maiming, and torturing. When she meets Po, a Graced prince from another kingdom who encourages her to resist being controlled, she takes things into her own hands. But so far, she's already established certain amounts of freedom, like building a Council that helps those who are oppressed or in need. The last step is to defy her uncle and join Po in his quest to uncover the mystery of his grandfather's kidnapping. They uncover more mysteries than they expected, which lead to narrow escapes that only grow more narrow.

I liked Katsa at first. She had spunk, determination, fears, and compassion, but she's determined "never to marry". Her reasons? She doesn't want to be controlled. She doesn't want to be "tied down". She wants to be able to do whatever she pleases. Even when she realizes she is in love with a man, she doesn't want to marry because of these selfish reasons. Her man suggests they just be lovers. This suggestion proves to be the solution to all her problems--the bringer of peace.

I was appalled, to say the least...followed closely by fury. Not just because the characters chose a life of promiscuity (that's as common as a paperback novel in a gas station), but because this choice is condoned by the author. She sends the message, "Hey kids, if you don't want responsibility, go hop in bed with the guy/girl that you think you love."
The scene in the book is written clean--it's not descriptive and, in the world's standards, it keeps the young reader "safe". Sometimes I wonder if vague descriptions cause more damage than the cut-and-dry. It doesn't matter how the scene is written, it's written clear enough that the reader (no matter the age) knows what's going on.
The idea of just having a lover with no responsibility so one can follow his or her own selfish plans is looked upon as better than marriage in this book. Better than commitment. And I hate knowing that this 'view' is being fed into the minds of the young and impressionable. Our teens. My little sister.

The sad part is, everything else about the book was enjoyable. It was relatively clean (apart from the "scene" and a few swear words), adventurous, creative, imaginative, surprising...*thumbs through thesaurus*...you get the picture, but I will never recommend it to anyone simply because of the message it carries and the romantic interactions between the couple.

Sometimes, I just think we expect the kids and teens of this day to grow up too fast. And when they do, they make all the wrong choices because they've been denied all the right lessons.

Violence Level: ***

Romance Level: ****
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: ***
Story Depth Level: ***
Recommendation: *

For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.


  1. I read this book about half a year ago now...and yes I was shocked. Such a great book! The fighting, the plotline, the amazing Katsa, etc. Until "it" happened. I dropped the book like a hot rock, and ya I wouldn't recommend it too anyone. :)

  2. i totally agree! it makes me happy that others were appalled to. I think what saddened me the most was I thought, just maybe, this author had a Christian mind view and was telling it through engaging parallels. I mean, they get something called Grace (sounds like the Gospel to me!) that they didn't earn or say they wanted but they learn to use it to help their life. Then the evil king is immensely evil because he spreads lies and seeks to hurt, but make people think it is for their good (sounds like Satan--the author of lies). I thought it was thought provoking and for a while I could understand even the idea of not wanting to be controlled. I get that. It is scary to be in a relationship and knowing that they could hurt you if they wanted. But that is where the beauty of trust and real love is! Trusting them anyway, seeing how they love you enough to let go of your selfishness and giving up everything about yourselves to each other. I was so disappointed in the lesson this would show to young girls. There was NO need for it to go that far as sex and going as detailed to explain the bleeding, but nothing about the emotions it brings.

    1. Same here. Definitely thought provoking with a very sudden let-down. There is so much about this book (and many others) I'd love to recommend to others and hope to pass on to my future children (who, of course, will be avid readers [grin]), but I can't allow myself to because of these single small instances of events I find to be unnecessary, inappropriate, and disappointing.