“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”
Graceling is set in a world where sometimes people are given specific gifts, called graces. Some of these gifts are easy to benefit from (Grace of Cooking, for example, I would find pretty handy). Katsa, our protagonist, is graced with killing. Manipulated by her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, Katsa has grown to despise her grace and the things she is forced to do for him. Her only solace is a special group she runs behind the scenes, one that tries to combat the evils of the kingdom and offset Katsa's conscience for the things Randa makes her do. On one mission for this group, she comes across Prince Po, graced in combat arts. The two of them make quite a pair, investigating something big going on in the kingdoms. Their world is full of secrets, which threaten to tear some things apart while bringing Po and Katsa closer together.
This book was a lot of fun to read, though it had an uneven tone to it on occasion. Katsa is a very interesting character, one whom I grew to love a lot more as she learned to love herself (despite that sentence reeking of Dr. Phil, it happens to be true). Po is a fantastic character, and the interplay between the two is wonderful. I'd love to read more books that are The Po & Katsa Adventures, but the sequels in the series don't seem to revolve around them.
As a woman with a love of combat, I enjoyed seeing a female character who kicked a whole lot of ass. I especially enjoyed that she started out much harder and softened as she learned more about her grace.
I'd recommend this for people who enjoy good YA Fantasy.