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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa is a Graceling, born with the ability to kill a man with her bare hands. Forced into killing for her King, she goes throughout life hating her ability. She is quick to anger, and if she loses control she will kill. What little joy she gets out of life is by secretly disobeying the King whenever she can. Until she meets Po. A beautiful man with a grace for fighting. He opens her eyes to a new world, one where she can be in control of her life and make her own choices.

Graceling had a strong start. Even though Katsa should be a powerful character, lifetime conditioning and guilt made her into a tool to the king. Each time she kills for the king, it's another day she loathes being graced. I saw the potential in Katsa to develop into a strong willed female character. I enjoyed watching her walk the thin line between obedience and snapping under the pressure.

I expected the story to stay focused on Katsa's struggle. Instead, it fades into the background the minute Po came onto the page. Where was the internal battling? Where was the slow climb to redemption? Instead of turning into a stronger character, Katsa just became boring. Even the twist with her grace that was supposed to be this amazing mystery, fell flat for me.

Romance took the center stage. Katsa became this mushballsubplots of a woman. A person I guess some would connect with as a motherly protective figure, but I just didn't enjoy the development. The sub plots even paled in comparison to the amount of time spent developing the romance between the two characters. It was as if the rest of the story was just filler. I would only suggest this book if you like YA romance.