Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue (Graceling Realms #3)

Kristin Cashore

Review of Graceling (Graceling Realms #1)

Publication Date: May 1st 2012

Publisher: Dial

Pages: 563

Genre: Fantasy, Young Ault

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

I have been waiting to read Bitterblue for so long that when it was released, I could hardly believe I could actually read it. Then I realized that Kristin Cashore was coming to my alma mater's town and I wasn't there to see her and I became rather upset (I believe I tweeted about it), soon after a close friend of mine from college came to my rescue and vowed to go to the book signing for me and get me Bitterblue, so I waited until I could head up to Chicago and get it from her.

My personalized signed copy of Bitterblue may now be one of the greatest treasures that I own.

Back to the actual book, however, it is just as good as Graceling and Fire, perhaps even better. It takes about eight/nine years after Graceling and possibly around twenty five plus after Fire, and the tie is King Leck, though he is now dead, his legacy continues to affect the land of Monsea. It is a beautiful tale of how much damage Leck had done to Monsea and how damage like that isn't easily fixed.

Queen Bitterblue marks another strong female character Cashore has brought us, but what I like is that she is strong in a different way. She has no Grace or special ability, she is not especially strong or good with a weapon, but instead she uses her mind and loves her people, wanting to help them, but feeling trapped. Her characterization raises my respect for Cashore as she truly felt like a person, rather than a character in a book. She had her own faults, her own little habits, and though she tried her hardest she didn't always win.

The illustrations in Bitterblue are also a fantastic addition to the book. They fit perfectly with the feel of the story, on top of having many new beautiful maps to look at. I also really liked how the book was split up into parts (I am finding this structure more and more in YA books and I have to admit I really like how it ends up working). It helped me to keep track of the timeline in the novel, while separating each focus in the book in a nice way.

I recommend this book to everyone! Okay, maybe not everyone, but it has actually pushed out and above Graceling in my top ten favourite books to read. I'll probably reread it to death like I did Graceling, although I will work hard to keep it in good quality. It is a very well written book, and one of the best "clean up" books I've read in YA (Other "clean up" books include Outside In by Maria V. Snyder, and both Hunger and Lies by Michael Grant).



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