Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.
What I loved
Graceling is wonderfully original and is well done. I simply love this story line. Cashore creates a world that reminds me a bit of the Eragon series, but is still fresh and original. Often fantasy worlds are difficult for a reader to picture, but the seven kingdoms with seven unpredictable kings sets up clear boundaries that keeps the reader grounded.
Katsa is a strong protag, and her struggles are believable. One of the things I love most about YA fantasy is that the female roles tend to be strong and independent, and this one does not disappoint. Too, the supporting characters are well written and unique. I love when characters are well rounded. It makes for a better read.
My Pinch Points
I have a no spoilers policy, but I will say I did find the ending a bit disappointing. Too, there were several times I wanted Cashore to really slow down, dig deep, and allow the reader to experience what the characters were going through. One of my biggest pet peeves is to get to a pivotal point in a story and have the writing skim the surface, not submerse the reader in the experience. While I understand YA often does this because it may be inappropriate to delve into certain subjects, I still walk away from the scene dissatisfied.
I do love a good fantasy that is chalked full of action and adventure. While Cashore could have sunk into the storyline and explored a few places, overall it was a great read. If you like fantasy with action, adventure, and a bit of romance, Graceling is the book for you.