Have you ever wanted to be really good at just one thing, or maybe have a unique talent or skill that you totally dominate? You would be "graced", as the characters are in Kristin Cashore's imaginative and energetic novel, Graceling. Katsa is graced in the art of killing, and her small frame can easily take down an army of men, without needing the aide of weapons. (No, this isn't a fluffy book about a girl graced with loving animals, or graced with the ability to wow suitors with her extreme beauty!) Her uncle, King Randa, uses her as his strong arm; threatening law-breakers and scaring his enemies or opposition. Katsa doesn't want to be a bully for the king, and endeavors to use her extraordinary grace for good through her work in The Council, which is a group of citizens who act for the betterment and support the rights of the common people. On a mission for The Council, Katsa meets Po, another Graceling who apparently is graced in the art of fighting and hand-to-hand combat. The romance that develops between Po and Katsa is down-right adorable in that it is so off-the-wall and unexpected as romances go. Have you ever fallen for someone you've beaten the tar out of, or physically beat to pulp on a daily basis? Such is the delightful romance between Po and Katsa, as Po has convinced Katsa to "train" him so that he may better his fighting skills with the only worthy opponent he has ever met. Po must also uncover the mystery behind his kidnapped grandfather, the king of a neighboring district and a rescuee of The Council.
If you loved Katniss in The Hunger Games, then Katsa will be a character you definitely root for and enjoy. She is strong, brave, fearless, and full of spunk. Graceling is packed with action, but has that extra sprinkling of romance that The Hunger Games lacked. I'm also told that this book is being developed into a series, and the second novel is titled Fire, which you can bet I will be purchasing as soon as it hits the shelf! Love, love, love this book and I'm so sad I finished it in two days and can' linger over it more.