Monday, April 30, 2012
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3) by Kristin Cashore
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
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.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
How many years has it been since Graceling again? Four years? Five? I snapped this up as soon as I could my hands on it. Bitterblue’s own story is a complicated read. There were lot’s and lot’s of side stories, a couple old characters and then some other new ones… plus, a lot of them behaving oddly, so oddly that I was totally with Bitterblue in her confusion. I understood her in her need to know what was going on. Then I was with her in being confused about all the what’s/why’s/who’s. It’s only close to the end did things all feel smoother to me. BUT since I’m a sucker for stories of this kind- the kind with intrigue and questions and mysteries layered on thick- well, I enjoyed it.
Graceling left us with a ten year-old Bitterblue, inheriting a kingdom from a mad king who’d used his grace to mind-rape/control/abuse his people. Now 18, she’s still trying to get her people to move on but at the same time figure out the truth behind who and what and how.
What I loved:
… There are twists in this one that you wouldn’t believe!
…Characters. While it’s true that whole stretches of it were confusing, there were moments when it was just her, or just her and another character that kept me glued to what they were saying. Bitterblue as a character could give Katsa a run for her money in the non-simple department. She’s unsure, confused.. but tough and tries her best to do what’s right. But sometimes she goes off half cocked, then sometimes she get emotional too. I had no choice but to like her. The Saf, who is a little like her, in that he is not the boy-she-loved. He too is complicated; he too could behave in ways she didn’t like… but he made sense, (sometimes in a childish reactive kind of way.) And then there’s Katsa and Po, both of them were a big surprise because they felt more lively here; more open(?)
… That even after Graceling, Leck still figures a great deal in the story. It is after all about trying to move on from what he’d done. How some try to do this is just the root of most of the puzzles that Bitterblue’s to solve.
…That there’s a love story that wasn’t the driving force of the story but interesting in it’s own right. I enjoyed that it progressed: with people behaving badly, making shitty decisions but it’s the end that I have to commend the most- realistically.
What I didn’t quite love…
…I’m not really backtracking here, but in much the same way that those twists and plots always have me intrigued, there were points in it that confounded me, points when I’d have to re-read a couple of passages and try to trace where they were coming from. That’s how confusing things could get! I loved the intrigue, truly, I did… but I sometimes I got lost along the way.
… Unnecessary elements. I felt like too many things were introduced whose roles not quite material to what was going on. I get that there are people to trust; I get there are people not to trust… it just got a little difficult to keep track of all of them and who did what and why.
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