September Book Club: Graceling

Let the discussion of Graceling begin! This was one of Melissa’s favorite books of 2008 and a discussion is timely, since the prequel Fire is coming out at the beginning of October. Here are some questions to get the conversaton started, but feel free to comment on any aspect of the book that struck you:

  • One of the most popular aspects of Graceling, based on many reviews, is the contrast between a strong heroine and a sensitive (but well-matched) hero. How do Katsa and Po stack up to other fantasy protagonists in your experience?
  • In any fantasy novel, world-building–setting, the internal logic of the magical systems, the politics of invented kingdoms–is integral to a reader’s enjoyment and the believability of the story. How does Cashore’s world-building in Graceling, particularly the superpowered aspect of the Graced? (And the always-fun reader association question: if you had a Grace, what would it be?)
  • What age group and type of reader would be the best audience for this book? How does it compare to or complement other fantasy titles in your library?

Please add your thoughts to the discussion below. You don’t have to be a NYCSLA member to join in the fun (although we’d love to have you…)

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3 Responses to September Book Club: Graceling

  1. Allie Bruce says:

    I’m thrilled to see Graceling as the book being discussed – this was one of my favorite books in 2008. I have to say that one of the main appeals for me was that Katsa is so utterly different from Bella, but the book still has intense done romantic tension that appeals to teenage girls. When Graceling came out, I was working in a bookstore, and when teen girls (or their parents) came asking what to read after Twilight, I pointed them straight to Graceling.
    I’m not a huge fantasy buff, but the Katsa – Po matchup was one of my favorite protagonist teams to follow. Their relationship was very interesting to watch, particularly how they learned to communicate with each other. I remember thinking how ironic it was that when it came to their romance, Po’s grace (trying not to give anything away here) didn’t give him too much of an advantage, because Katsa was so internally confused that she didn’t even know what she thought or felt.
    If I had a grace, I would want it to be the ability to read super fast and not miss anything.

  2. Sara Lissa says:

    I am reading this aloud to my son, and am only a third of the way through, and enjoying very much the geographic logic of the kingdoms, and tracking with him their geographically derived skirmishes. Cashore bases Middluns, Estill, Nander, Wester, and Sunder so obviously upon the cardinal points, on hard geometry, except the two divergent kingdoms of Leinid and Monsea. Po’s description of Leinid seems to awake in Katsa a sense of beauty which she has never experienced or felt, and in the reader, the understanding that Katsa has missed an important aspect of living, her missing sense. Leinid symbolizes beauty and Monsea, peace, two antidotal realities to the tight core of the other five kingdoms. I wonder how Katsa, as blossoming rebel force in Middluns, will reshape this four-petal kingdom/flower, how her leanings toward Leinid will shift the tight centrality that exists within the structure of the kingdoms….If I had a Grace, surely it would to be able to see the world as it truly is….

  3. Ahhh, I love this book. (You can tell, because I picked it!) I received it for Christmas from my mom, who got me started on Tamora Pierce and kick-butt heroines when I was a kid, and spent last year’s snow day blissfully reading the whole thing at a gulp. Anyway, the relationship between Katsa and Po is one of my favorite YA romances. Her reluctance and prickliness, his gentle coaxing of her to open up, the way that marriage is NOT the happy tied-up-in-a-bow ending to their story… I love it the way I loved Alanna and George in the Lioness Quartet, and I think Tamora Pierce is the most obvious comparison here to other YA fantasy authors. Cashore’s world-building is extremely strong and consistent for a first-time novelist, even though I do think King Leck is bit of a straw man who isn’t used to the best of his creepy ability. This was a great addition to fantasy titles in my library, but I handsell lots of fantasy to kids, so your mileage may vary. Oh, and if I had a Grace, I’d like some crazy high-powered memory Grace, like a photographic memory but on overdrive. Except I would probably be tortured by the overwhelming rush of stimuli, and go mad…. but it would make for an exciting companion novel.

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