Tuesday, May 1, 2012
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.
After reading, and loving, Graceling and Fire, I had been dying to read Bitterblue. I was insanely curious about how she would turn out after growing up since Graceling. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of it and it was so worth the wait.
Can I start by saying how much I love this cover? The blue-ish and purple colors really appeal to the eye and go with the title. It has a certain old feel to it with the old style keys (where can I get one?) and the darker flower outlines. Back to the keys, they are all beautifully intricate and of bronze, silver and gold. The font of the title also helps to embody the feel of the book, giving it an old world feel, with a nice gold foil. Finally, the girl (I'm assuming Bitterblue) peering through the key ring has a look of curiosity that Bitterblue often had within the book.
Character-wise, the book both excelled and didn't at the same time. I greatly enjoyed reading of Bitterblue, she had matured a great deal since Graceling and was a very interesting character. She wasn't afraid to get into the grit of her kingdom, often going in by herself, to see what needed improvement and what she could do about it. Saf was enjoyable as well, he shared an intriguing relationship with Bitterblue that hooked me into the book further. Most of the secondary characters were great, especially Teddy, making the story flow better than it would have without them. The characters that let me down, were those from previous books. Katsa and Po seemed to lack the fire and sparks that drew me to them initially as well as the depth they had showed previously. Fire was OK, but she just didn't seem as interesting as I recall her being.
My main issue with this book was the fact that it sometimes slowed to a crawl, diminishing my interest slightly. There were times of great excitement which then lead to times of slowness, like when the court politics were being spoken of. The part of the book that I most enjoyed was having many of the characters from previous books all meet, some for the first time, for others it was simply a reunion. Though I didn't necessarily enjoy the characters as much, it was still amusing to have them meet for the first time. As always, Kristin rocked the writing, using her usual style to draw the reader in. By the end of the book, I was quite satisfied by where the story had gotten to and how it ended, altogether I think it will make fans of the series quite content with the closure it provides.
Who would I recommend this to? Anyone in need of a good fantasy or who want to try something different and utterly unique. I give this book a 4/5 for being a well written finale to the amazing series that will leave fans satisfied and happy.