Parent reviews for Bitterblue: Graceling Realm, Book 3
February 7, 2014
Good Book, Terrifying Bad Guy
I really, really enjoyed this book, and I think Kristin Cashore's books are spectacular reading, especially for young-adult females. Her books feature strong female role models and address issues of corruption, power, and asserting agency over one's path through life, rather than allowing oneself to become a passive observer or to become defined by the actions of others. That being said, the tone of this book is extremely dark. The "bad guy" of this story is revealed to have committed truly horrendous acts which deeply disturbed me, reading the book at age 21. I would caution individuals who are particularly sensitive to violence of a sexual nature to avoid this book, and I would caution parents to make sure your children are mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with the disturbing acts and the complex issues of blame and morality that this book addresses. However, the overall message of this book is about surviving such traumas and moving past them into a more positive and healthy future. Bitterblue is a strong, intelligent character who uses her smarts and determination to uncover the truth about her kingdom's history and to try to put things to rights in the wake of her father's destructive reign. There are cameos of characters from Cashore's previous books, including two who are revealed to be in an undisclosed homosexual relationship, which was handled in a very positive way. Additionally, the author uses these cameos to make a conscientious effort to rectify a damaging trope which she had unthinkingly utilized in a previous novel (magically repairing a recently disabled character). Overall, I think the message and enjoyability of this novel are very positive, but the uncovered particulars of King Leck's atrocities and the ramifications that they have for surviving characters require a certain level of maturity and an individual capability and willingness to contemplate such issues.
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August 7, 2012
Tough subject, lovely writing, great strong young female role model
The third in the Graceling universe, this book follows the story of Bitterblue, the a teenage queen. Unlike Cashire's other novels, the setting here is small and focused on the Queen. Bitterblue must learn to accept that she cannot change the horrible things her father did and imposed on others, despite being Queen. And she must learn about healing her people from her father's prolonged abuse. Unmarried sex is referenced. Homosexuality is discussed generally and in a positive manner (a character has not revealed his preference to his parents). Abuse and violence are discussed. The most difficult aspects occurred in the past, and this story is about learning to live despite this, but people do get hurt in the story's present.
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