Thursday, March 25, 2010

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc., 2008. ISBN-10: 015206396X; ISBN-13: 978-0152063962. 480 p.

Plot Summary
In a land where some are born with extreme talents, or Graces,  Katsa is more feared--and exploited--than any other Graceling.  Cursed with a Grace for killing, she lives her life under the thumb of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, with the expectation that she will torture or kill those who displease him. When she meets Prince Po, another Graced fighter, she never expects to learn terrible secrets that may destroy the seven kingdoms.  Can she fight her destiny and save her homeland?

Critical Evaluation
In her debut novel, Cashore excels and making Katsa a sympathetic protagonist, despite the terrible things she has done. She is a strong role model, especially as she is forced into adulthood before she is ready to handle the challenges to come. Teen readers will find it easy to identify with this tale of a girl who must face insurmountable odds to save those she cares about before they are destroyed.

Reader’s Annotation
Katsa is cursed with the Grace of killing. Once she meets the handsome prince Po, she discovers an evil plot that threatens her homeland. Can she use her gift to save the lifes and freedom of those she loves before it's too late?

Author Information
Kristin Cashore grew up in a village in northeastern Pennsylvania, reading as much as she could and daydreaming when she couldn't. She graduated from Williams College and got a M.A. from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. She hasn't stopped writing since. Kristin currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and blogs at

When she was asked about the origin of the idea of "Graces", Cashore says she can't really point to a specific point at which the idea started. She says, "It was with me from the beginning—from the very start, Katsa had an unusual power that alienated her terribly from others. As I fine-tuned the concept of Graces, it seemed right to me that every Grace should be an extreme version of skills that people in our world actually do have. So, for example, there are people in our world who can run really, really fast; the corresponding Grace would be the ability to run even faster — inhumanly fast. There are people in our world who rarely get sick, so why not a Graceling who’s incapable of getting sick? There are unusually perceptive people in our world; the corresponding Grace might be some form of mind reading. There are people with an unusually deep connection to the earth and nature; the corresponding Grace might be an ability to predict weather. And so on. I tried to avoid Graces that had too much of a sci-fi feel — for example, I don’t think teleportation would be a believable Grace in the world of Graceling. Maybe I’m wrong; basicallly, I try to avoid inconsistencies, and hope for the best!"

Fantasy, Coming of Age.

Curriculum Ties

Booktalking Ideas
-Read a passage from the first time Po and Katsa fight each other.
-What would you do if you could kill someonee with a single blow? How would your life have to change?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9-12.

Challenge Issues

Challenge Defense
Become familiar with book reviews, which rate this book highly.

I included this book because I really enjoyed it when I read it last summer, and I wanted to read it again. It reminds me of The Hunger Games, which is a great thing.


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