Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.
I liked Graceling. Let's get that out of the way right now, before I start talking ethics and agendas and propaganda. I liked Graceling and I think Cashore is a pretty awesome writer and I plan on continuing with this series because it's original and exciting and things happen and I like when things happen. Katsa is the kinda heroine I adore, a girl who isn't motivated by a man or her love for that man and is not a damsel in distress, but instead will take a bitch out by herself. There's quests. I love quests. The only thing that would have made this story more epically amazing is if Katsa found a dragon and trained it and together, she and her dragon steed, flew around the kingdoms, striking wrong-doers down and chomping them. Perhaps breathing a little fire for kicks. Po was just there, and I liked that he was just there, that this male character was suddenly the Love Interest that is just hanging around and does some things, sure, but not like The Hero. I liked seeing those roles reversed.
And I liked that Katsa was anti-marriage, anti-baby and pro-sex. Okay, perhaps pro-sex isn't the best word, but, she had a sexual relationship with Po, with no plans for marriage. You know what they say, "it's not premarital sex if you have no plans on getting married." Or maybe that was just me who said that. To my dad. Who is a preacher. ....awkward.
YES. I LIKED IT.
I can't help but notice that many of the ones who didn't like it were fellow females. Which makes me wonder: Why? Why are we so threatened by the idea that there are women that exist, whether in real life or fictionally, that don't feel the need to pair up, settle down, and jump into a life of barefoot pregnancies? Shouldn't we want to see that? Even if we happened to be paired off and balancing babies on our hips? I know I want to see it. I want to see a fictional character stand up and say, "You know what? I don't want to be married. I don't need children to feel complete. I am a full and complete person without those things and I don't base my self-worth as an individual with ovaries based on how well I keep house." HELL YES. GIRL POWER. SLAM YOUR BODY DOWN AND WIND IT ALL AROUND ZIG-A-ZIG AWWW SAID THE SPICE GIRLS. I like seeing this kickass chick, who can take on armies single handedly, throwing her hand up and saying, "I love you, but I don't want to be owned by you. If you can't accept that, than I'm sorry. Oh? You can? Awesome. I'm not giving in later on down the road, either." How many times do we see a girl lose. her. shit. for a man? Utter the words that she'll take him however she can have him? With commitment, without, with babies or not? As long as she can be with him. Those girls drive most of us crazy, but we read their stories and shake our heads and mumble to ourselves, "Well, boys will be boys and silly girls will be silly girls." And then along comes Katsa & Po and it's PO that's saying those words to Katsa, who's willing to take her however he can have her, that he's willing to give up marriage and children as long as he can be with her, and that's refreshing as shit.
Did Cashore have an agenda with the Graceling realm? Maybe. Maybe her agenda was just simply saying, "You're not an old spinster who deserves pity if you choose to not give into society's expectations of you." Was Graceling and Katsa some crazy feminist propaganda, designed to underhandedly preach the evils of marriage? Maybe. Maybe my sweet Aunt Gail, who is a 50-something year old woman who has never married and has no children and has no desire for these things is also a crazy feminist testifying the evils of matrimony with her life.
Bottom line, some people don't want kids. They don't want to be married. They don't feel like they need these things in order to have a sexual and fulfilling relationship. That's okay. We should applaud those people, fictional or not, who don't feel any kind of pressure to be the people society thinks they should be, who don't conform. We should applaud authors writing about those types of people, who stray from the norm, who create characters that aren't like every other YA character out there.
And if those original characters can take on ARMIES by themselves and kill crazy mind-controlling kings? We should fangirl the hell out of them.
Even if they don't ride around on dragons.