Book Review: Bitterblue

Book Review: BitterblueBitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling #3
Release Date: May 2012
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 563
Source: ALA

Short of it:  While it got off to a slow start, Bitterblue was a worth the long wait. Cashore weaved the companion novels together gracefully. My only slight disappointment was I wanted more. The story wraps nicely, but I feel like there is still so much to tell. My hope is that Cashore will decide to revisit the Seven Kingdoms in the future.

Plot: The storyline for this one starts off quite slow, but for good reason. Bitterblue has been kept under mountains of paperwork since she took her reign and has no idea what is happening in her kingdom. The web of lies and deceit that Lech weaved was enormous and would have been difficult for Bitterblue to sort through with an army of help behind her. It’s near impossible to do when everyone is trying to derail her. Not to mention her own memories are quite hazy. Honestly, I’m glad Cashore didn’t rush that period of awakening, even if it meant a slowly, less-action filled beginning.

However, once Bitterblue starts to take action into her own hands, things really start to roll. I don’t want to give away too much of the book, so I won’t say too much more. Old favorites, including Katsa and Po, will return and the many truths will be revealed. The depths of Lech madness is horrifying, although not surprising. While Bitterblue will never know the full story to his madness, this is most likely for the best. I doubt any reasoning could make his madness okay. Not to mention anything more would have been too much for poor Bitterblue to handle. While strong, I believe knowing everything would have made her crumble.

Character: I liked Bitterblue. She was a bit naive and too trusting, but all things considered it is understandable. She had been thrown into this position when she was only 10 years old with very little training. The people around her were supposed to help build a better Kingdom, not keep her in the dark. Bitterblue does have spunk though. She may not be a Katsa, but in her position she could never be that brazen or bold. However, when she realized how many lies has been fed to her over the years, she had no problem finding out the truth on her own. Yes, she may have been a bit foolish at time, but she learned from every mistake and used it to make herself stronger. Bitterblue has all the makings of a good Queen and the legacy she leaves behind would make her mother proud.

I know this story is about Bitterblue, but I wanted to touch a bit on Po. Out of the characters we’ve seen before he around the most. Po has always been one of my favorite characters, but I felt like some of his charm was missing in this story. I can’t put my finger quite on it, but he felt different. I know a lot had to do with the guilt of hiding his secret, but that was something he had been dealing with most of his life. I know Cashore was trying to compensate for her “cureness” for being blind, but in the process she changed him. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Po, but he just wasn’t the same. I’d be interested to see if anyone else felt the shift/change in him as well.

Romance: Oh, Saf and Bitterblue. I feel like I can’t say too much without giving anything away with this one. While they were from different worlds, they worked. Saf was the spark she needed to push her out of her shell and truly open her eyes. Without him, I thinks he would have stayed in the web of lies much, much longer than she did. He was her guide, per say, to a world she knew nothing about. His street smarts helped her get around and, honestly, stay alive. Yes, they fought, but there were true, deep feelings for each other. I was pleased with how Cashore handled their relationship, especially the final outcome.

I do believe there is a secondary relationship between Gideon and Bitterblue as well. Okay, so this may be reaching a little, but I think it’s still plausible, especially near the end. In no way, shape, or form does Cashore state they are romantically entwined, but there are little hints that they could be if Saf doesn’t work out. The seedlings are there, but I suppose it will be up to the reader if it ever blooms. (And personally, I think it will, but I don’t want to spoil things for anyone who has not read it yet.)

Writing: Cashore is a brilliant writer and Bitterblue is no exception. All three of her books have been captivating. The worlds and characters she creates are some of my favorite to exist. I was sad to turn the last page as it felt like I was saying goodbye to dear friends. I can’t wait to meet her next week and express my love in person. And I certainly can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Librarian-Mode: I’m going to assume that anyone who has read Bitterblue has already read Graceling and Fire as well. There are many great fantasy novels out there, but I think Tamora Pierce is one of the best matches for Cashore lovers, especially her Tricksters duo and Beka Cooper trilogy.


Mini Reviews

Mini Review Time. Here are some books that I devoured during my reading spree that I thought were fantastic. However, many of them have been all around the blogosphere already, so I thought I would just do some mini-reviews.

Mini ReviewsLove Is the Higher Law by David Levithan
Release Date: 2010
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Pages: 167
Source: ALA

Everyone will always remember where they were on September 11, 2001. For three New York area teens, Claire, Jasper, and Peter, there will always be a before and after. But don’t let the 9/11 theme scare you away. This story is about how one event can change our lives and redefine how we connect to people during tragic times. It’s about discovering new friendships and bonds as lives intertwine in ways they wouldn’t have before. This has easily become one of my favorite solo Levithan books, second only to The Realm of Possibility. I felt connected to each character and thought their emotions were raw and honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with these three teens and was a little sad to leave them as the story ended.

Mini ReviewsAsh by Malinda Lo
Release Date: September 1st 2009
Pages: 272
Source: ALA


Say hello to the newest Cinderella retelling. Wait, wait, this isn’t your average Cinderella story. This is a world filled of old magic and fairies. Stories that Ash’s mother use to tell her as a child. It’s those stories that keep her going after her father dies and she is left in the care of her step-mother. Forced from her family home and to be a servant, Ash dreams of dancing and belonging to the fairies. That is until she meets Kaisa, the king’s huntress, and finds herself falling in love and having to decide which world she longs for more. Ash was slow-moving at times, but I really enjoyed the little twists that Lo added. It was refreshing to not have Cinderella chase after the prince. And while I will admit the lesbian aspect is what first drew me to Ash there is much more to it. It’s about self-discovery and finding love and where you belong. While I wish Lo would have explained the fairy world just a little more, I understand it was not what the book was really about. If you’re looking for a new look at Cinderella I would highly recommend trying this one out.

Mini ReviewsFire by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling #2
Release Date: 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 461
Source: ALA

Fire is the last human monster left in the Dells. Fire, with her multi-colored hair, irresistible beauty, and mind control, is considered a huge threat. The danger of being hunted exists even the secluded land that she lives through. The danger only increases when her gift is needed by Young Nash at the capitol. Her powers may just be the thing that can help them win the war that is coming. It the midst of political struggle and power plays, Fire finds herself falling for Brigan, the one person she can’t control…if only she can get him to look past what to is to discover who she really is. While I think Graceling is still my favorite, I really enjoyed Fire. While there were some similarities between the two, the approach is very much different. Fire is more about strategy through political and mind games where as Graceling was all about the action and adventure.  The political games is interesting to me, but it slow-moving and I can see how others can get bored. I really adored Brigan and wish he would have been in the book then he had been. (And so I’ll never repeat this, but I think I may even like him more than Po *gasp*) All in all, Fire was amazing and I can’t wait to see what Cashore has in store with Bitterblue!