Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Bitterblue is a YA novel written by Kristen Cashore that takes place in the same world as her first two novels Graceling and Fire. I can tell you that I have anticipated the release of Bitterblue ever since Cashore debuted her first novel Graceling. I absolutely loved Graceling and have gone back to reread it a couple of times now.
I found many parts interesting and enjoyable. First, the characters that I knew and loved were back and interacting with the young queen, which was exciting! I loved that we got to see their growth and what they were doing. The character of Giddon was also introduced more fully and I liked him. The growth seen in Bitterblue herself was also refreshing.
Last time we saw her she was a little girl and in Bitterblue she is a young woman trying to straighten out the flaws within her kingdom. These flaws turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of the story. The book also has more dark and captivating mystery than either Fire or Graceling.
I must also say something to the unexpected ease in which Cashore overcomes sexuality and tough issues. Her societies have overcome issues which our own society continues to battle. I love the way she mixes these modern ideals with the old society. It sends an important message to the reader which every work needs.
This being said, for me Bitterblue was a slow read. There was even a point when I put down the book for a week or two and read something else. I got bogged down in the puzzles and politics in the book. In comparison, Graceling was very fast pace. The characters were always moving, fighting, saving each other. It was a whirlwind of emotion that ended only when you hit the back cover. Katsa herself, was a supercharged character that you could hardly keep up with. I think I was expecting the same from Bitterblue and was not satisfied.
The final aspect to the book that disappointed me, was the relationship between Bitterblue and Saf. I think my problems with their relationship lie in the way Saf's character changes. He was intriguing, mysterious, and spunky and left me wanting to know him better during the first half of the book. Then I feel he deviates from his character becoming somewhat soft and flat. Finally, his story is left so unresolved there is a feeling that he was a last thought. This is really too bad because Cashore's other characters are so strong in their personalities and he had that potential.
At this point I realized I liked Bitterblue's relationships with many of the other characters better. I thought her relationship with Giddon was much more substantial and even her relationship with Katsa, though briefly shown, was charming. In the end I enjoyed the relationships of Katsa and Po over that of Bitterblue and Saf.
All in all, it can be said that Bitterblue was not my favorite book but that does not mean I regret taking the time to read it. I think I expected more and was underwhelmed. However, Cashore stays true to her style and her main characters which I applaud. She also places a message that applies outside her book, which shows that she is not just a story teller but an activist.