Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: Bitterblue

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)
by Kristin Cashore
Hardcover, 563 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Dial
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire

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:

Graceling, the first book in Graceling Realm series, or The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy as I'd like to call it, has been one of my favorite books to date. The second book, Fire, didn't amaze me like Graceling did but I liked it a lot nonetheless. But as for Bitterblue... Well, I was hoping that this would at least be as good as Fire, if not as awesomely amazing as Graceling and also, I reaaally really really tried my best to like this, but I just couldn't. Maybe it's because I haven't recovered from my all-week obsession with my love, The Queen's Thief, and that when I read "thieves" from the synopsis, my expectations immediately shot way up high... Only to fall way too low.

Unlike Graceling and Fire which were more action-packed, Bitterblue focused more on mysteries and solving ciphers and puzzles that Leck left during his reign. Even several years after Leck's fall, the people of Bitterblue's Kingdom (which I already forgot the name of) are still struggling to recover from the horrors that were brought upon by their previous ruler.

The mystery was one of the most frustrating parts of the book. On one hand, it was one of the things I liked the most. I'd always liked that feeling like you already know the answer to the mystery and then BAM! You find out that you were just being misled. But on the other hand, I felt like the mystery was overdone and the secrets were redundant. Another thing I liked was, of course, *fans self* Po!!!!! I totally squealed like a fangirl when he showed up. Unfortunately for Katsa though, I used to fangirl about her but she lost her shine in Bitterblue. As well, the sweet moments between the two felt contrived.

Bitterblue, as a character, was an unremarkable one. I felt detached from her and I couldn't bring myself to care about what would happen to her. Her supposed love interest, Saf, intrigued me at first but as the story progressed, I became indifferent toward him. The most surprising character for me was Giddon. I hated him in Graceling but he was very likable in Bitterblue. I loved the friendship that developed between him and Po and I liked that he was a good friend to Bitterblue too. The romance here was quite subtle, though there was sex. I love subtle romance but I didn't appreciate the one Bitterblue had. (If you've read this book, I'd bet my two cents it disappointed you too.) The other side characters, most especially the palace people, were the most annoying! They made the stupidest decisions and they were all "crackpots." Even after I found out what made them the way they were, it was too difficult to sympathize with them especially when after they'd apologized, they still did the same mistakes again and again until the eye rolls became inevitable.

Bitterblue has all the aspects I liked in YA fantasy: a historical setting with a sneaky thief and royal people with cunning plans. Too bad that prior to reading this, I was rereading QT so I really couldn't appreciate all those aspects. I don't normally compare books - actually, I hate to compare books - so it hurt that during reading this, I kept thinking about how it fell flat compared to QT. I waited years to read Bitterblue and the disappointment aside, I also felt refreshed (and a little sad) knowing that another series I loved has come to an end. There's no doubt that Kristin Cashore is a talented writer and I would still love to read more of her future works.

Rating: 2/5 stars

19 comments:

  1. I read Graceling at the beginning of the year but I unfortunately didn't like it that much ... I hate it when I can't connect with the main character. Thanks for the honest review Chel :)

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    1. Really? I rarely meet people who didn't like Graceling lol. But surely you liked Po?

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  2. I'm really sorry Bitterblue wasn't up to par with Graceling. Sorry for you and for me, actually since I liked Graceling! I still plan on reading it though. For some closure :D

    Thank you for your honest review though, Chel!

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    1. A lot of people loved it and has a high ave rating on Goodreads so you might still like it. :)

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  3. Oh, I'm sorry you end up not liking this, Chel. I haven't read any book from this series but I've heard this a lot of times so I'm really thinking of reading this sometime soon. I'll try to be a little cautious and lower my expectations when I reach this book. Thanks for the honest review. I added you blog on my blogroll, btw! :)

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    1. Thanks, Eunice. Graceling is awwwesome! I know you're going to love it.

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  4. Chel, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I am the BIGGEST Kristen Cashore fan EVER (I stalk her blog rather obsessively!) but I didn't enjoy this one at all. Fire is my favorite book EVER, but Bitterblue was too slow and had waaay too many plot threads for me to enjoy it. I love the concept of it and I thought it improved a LOT by the end, but by then it was almost too late to salvage the novel overall. *sigh* Wonderful review, though! I know Cashore is working on a contemporary novel now and is thinking about returning to this world again too, so I'll be looking forward to her future works as well! :D

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    1. Thank goodness I'm not the only one! It has a rather high rating on goodreads and all the blog reviews I read about it were positive. I thought I was weird for not liking it. I didn't know she was working on a contemp but I'm def looking forward to it now.

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  5. I love this author too... but this book was not my favorite. I can't wait though to see what she writes next!!!

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    1. Lol I feel bad for hoping that a lot more people didn't like Bitterblue but really, I'm just glad I wasn't the only one.

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  6. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I enjoyed Bitterblue a lot. I haven't read The Queen's Thief yet and it sounds really incredible. Since I liked Bitterblue I'll probably adore. Thanks for being honest!

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    1. Hey, P.E.! I'm quite glad you liked it. And yes, QT is awesome! They're not really similar but Bitterblue has the aspects I loved so much in QT.

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  7. Awwwww, I'm really sorry you didn't quite enjoyed Bitterblue, Chel! While Bitterblue is definitely not my favourite out of all the books in the series (my favourite will always be Graceling!), I actually did enjoy Bitterblue. I hope that Kristin decides to write another book about the Seven Kingdoms!

    Thank you for the honest and awesome review, Chel! ♥

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    1. Lol I'm sorry too, Celine. And I'm glad you liked it. At least everyone seems to agree that it's not the best book in the series. :)

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  8. Sorry to hear that this book was a disappointment for you. Such a pity. I loved the other two books in the series so hopefully this one wins me over. Anyway great review!

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    1. Hey Erin, thanks! I hope this works out for you too. :)

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  9. This is a great honest review, hun! It's hard when the final book in a series lets you down so it's a shame that this didn't live up to your expectations!

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  10. I liked Graceling except for the way things ended with Katsa and Po but I haven't read Fire (though I did borrow it from the library once because I was told that it was even better than Graceling). I thought Bitterblue was an okay character in Graceling but I'm not sure I want to read a full story about her and her problems. Thanks for the review, Chel!

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  11. A delightful book, particularly suitable for young adults but quite capable of being enjoyed by older ones too. Not as appropriate for younger children to read because some of the atrocities from which Bitterblue is trying to help her country move on were horrible enough to make the tone of the book quite dark in places. But still a joy to read.

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