Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Tagged as YA fantasy, Graceling is new territory for me. While I’m a regular browser in the YA section of my bookstore, I’m not much of a fantasy reader. With the exception of Harry Potter, I tend to steer clear of any book with dwarves, elves, hobbits, names without vowels.
I picked up Graceling upon reading a blog article (Sorry, the name escapes me) about the hottest YA romances on shelves today. Said blogger wrote an applaudable review, meanwhile, I zeroed in on the key words: Fighting. Foreplay. Hot. God knows I need me some foreplay…in an intellectual bookish sense, I mean.
Graceling delivers. Our heroine Kasta is a broadsword-wielding, dagger-throwing teenage mutant warrior princess. She’s ‘graced’ or ‘gifted’ with the power of killing which encompasses all forms of fantasy world ass-kicking. At the beginning, she’s employed as chief hit woman by her mob boss uncle. Breaking thumbs and busting knee caps leaves Kasta feeling like a dirty thug; the bad girl wants to be a good girl. Is it me, or do you see a Kasta / Xena connection?
Along comes Po, Prince of Neighboring Kingdom (I said I was bad at fantasy names. I said it!). When Kasta meets Po for the first time, she kicks him in the face.
Later, we find out that Po is graced with fighting and much later it’s revealed that he’s not graced with fighting but with mind reading, however, it’s not mind reading but emotion sensing. I’ve just gone crossed-eyed.
Foreplay. Yes, definitely titillating.
And the sex? Oh yes, there’s sex-cleverly written off-stage sex. Doing the deed in YA is a tricky thing; you can’t be too descriptive, you can’t be too smutty, and never, I mean never name a body part. It’s like working within the old school Hollywood production codes. Dialogue loaded with racy talk that goes over the head of children and the censors. Generally, the censors (see, those who ban books without reading them) are not known as the sharpest tools in the sheds, so racy talk pretty much goes in one ear and out the other. That said, if I had a ten year old daughter (in my mind, my future children will be wicked smart granted I stop standing in front of the microwave), I’d lend her this book to read and not worry about corruption.
Po. Crush worthy. BUT…Gold hoop earrings? On both ears! Rings on every one of his ten-digits? Tribal tats? Good Lord! Jewelry. Tattoos. I’ve just described a laundry list of my biggest turn offs. I shiver just thinking about it…and not in a pleasure way. Earrings are for pirates. Rings are for pimps. I like my men square like Clarke Kent.
Wow. Big tangent.
I read this book for the romance and I wasn’t disappointed.