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Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

10 May

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Published: May 1, 2012 by Dial

How I got it: Pre-ordered on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Plot: 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.

Review:  Oh, Bitterblue. I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year now and I was so excited when it finally got a release date. I adore both Fire and Graceling with the passion of a million suns (okay, so that miiight be a bit of a stretch but it’s a lot, okay?), and I just knew I would feel the same about Bitterblue. However, I started to worry a teensy bit when I saw lots of other bloggers reporting that the book left them feeling disappointed, but I tried to ignore that and formulate my opinion.

Well, it ended up being the same for me, I had such a build up to this book and I felt so deflated when I reached the last chapter. I mean, I still LIKE the book, I just don’t LOVE it. And y’all, i wanted to love it so much that it hurts that I didn’t.

The Good 🙂
 I loved Bitterblue when I first met her in Graceling and it was fantastic to se her growing into her own as Queen of Monsea. She was curious, brave, cautious, caring and intelligent and everything you’d expect of an 18 year old Queen. It was fantastic watching her learn more about her country, about her father’s past and most importablty about herself and what she was capable of.

When old friends appeared on the pages it made me giddy with happiness. Giddon, Katsa, Raffin, Bann, Helda and especially Po were all integral to Bitterblue’s story and I loved watching how protective and supportive they were of her. I’d almsot forgotten how much I adored Po in Graceling, but I was reminded of it almost immediately when he first appeared on the pages of Bitterblue.

Emotions and character development. I love how Cashore is able to write strong female characters who know it’s okay to break down and cry occasionally, it feels far more realistic than this stoic character who never cries or a character who cries at the drop of a hat. She’s also able to bring that same emotion to her male characters, allowing them to cry and feel emotions that you don’t usually see from the men in YA novels. It doesn’t feel contrived or forced, it just feels natural to see them express their emotions. Cashore’s characters feel human and I think that’s why I connect to them so much.

Saf. I loved Saf even when he was being snarky, antagonistic and just a complete pain in the ass. He was fun to read even if I got frustrated with almost every other interaction he had with Bitterblue. I’d have liked to see more of him, but it would’ve been impossible with all the plot twists and turns.

The Bad 😦
The love story. It disappointed me and let me down. I felt that there was all this buildup and then it just didn’t go the way I was expecting it to go. It seemed to me that Bitterblue had much more chemistry with an entirely different character and I was rooting for them instead. I get the idea that Cashore was doing a love triangle without really doing a love triangle, but it didn’t work for me at all.

Twisty, turny plot. Oh my goodness, I usually adore complicated plots that fake you out and take you in circles. But this one at times felt too forced to me and I felt like it could’ve come to a resolution far sooner than it did. It seemed that it was complicated just for the sake of complication and not for story telling. I still liked what happened, but we could’ve reached the conclusion in a different fashion and I’d have been a bit more pleased.

Bitterblue’s advisors: Roon, Darby, Runnemond and Thiel. They were necessary to the story and played an important role as Bitterblue’s advisors, but man they just grated on my every nerve. They were overused in my opinion and I didn’t even like them to begin with!

 

The Conclusion!
If you enjoyed Fire and Graceling you will absolutely want to read Bitterblue, as it’s certainly a good continuation in the lives of our characters. And while I didn’t LOVE this book, I liked it enough and enjoyed returning to Cashore’s writing and her seven kingdoms.

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