As you all can see with your own eyes, I loved "Graceling." It was the perfect YA novel, especially for a girl, but really for anyone.
Fire, oh Fire, how you disappointed me. I'm fine with a book that mentions menstruation. I'm fine with menstruation as a plot device. I'm annoyed when it is used to facilitate giant swaths of necessary plot and is mentioned every other sentence or so. Unnecessary!Also, small detail, Please use different words than "monthly bleeding!" Because there are other words, but mostly just cut about 1/2 to 2/3 of the mentions out of the book and we'll be okay.
This brings me to my second point: This is not a YA novel. I don't care that Fire is seventeen to eighteen years old through the course of the novel. For instance, one of the main issues she grapples with is the decision of whether or not to have children and therefore pass on what is basically a hereditary condition that is guaranteed to be passed on if she has a child. Other issues include her becoming a stepmother-type character, and how to be ethical while still maneuvering to win what you believe is a just war. Oh, and finally a major problem addressed how to deal with the fact that you are just so beautiful that everyone either is so struck by your beauty they instantly love you or instantly hate you. Actually, for the most part that isn't such an invalid point about the values society places on beauty, especially female beauty, but she way over-emphasizes the point. Much like everything in this book is drawn out and rehashed a million ways.
The book literally ends with the main character crying to her lover about how she's not just another pretty face and she has all these crazy FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS. Which her current lover tells her he understands. Then makeouts. He's spent the entire book showing her how well he knows her and how little he cares about her outer beauty, but for some reason we needed this last chapter just to over-drive home the point again. AGRGH!
END SPOILER ALERT.
Do you see where I'm going here? Fire doesn't deal with issues teenagers deal with, she doesn't even deal with issues that MOST PEOPLE deal with, but those that do are typically older and in odd places of power. I just thought this book shouldn't have been marketed as YA despite the success of Graceling as YA novel. I might have liked it more if I'd picked it up in the adult fiction section with that framework functioning in my head.
Oh, but the one thing I will say is that I made it through the audiobook because the narrator Xanthe Elbrick is amazing and could have read me the phone book and I would be riveted for quite a long spell.