Monday, March 26, 2012

Bitterblue: review

Title: Bitterblue (The Seven Kingdoms #3)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genres: high fantasy, adventure, mystery
Summary: 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.

Warning, there are many spoilers for Graceling and Fire, so if you haven't read those but plan to, you might not want to read this review just yet. ;)

Since I can remember, I’ve been looking forward to reading Bitterblue. Though looking back, it’s probably been only about three years. I read Graceling when it first came out and liked it a lot. But I didn’t start falling head over heels for this series till Fire came out. I remember getting it from the library and sitting down on my bed and staring at it. Then reading it so fast, I just couldn’t get enough. After Fire, I kept saying it was all Graceling could have been. And I didn’t even realize they connected until a few months after.
A couple weeks before reading Bitterblue, I reread Fire and then Graceling (which I enjoyed a lot more the second time around), because I wanted it to be in chronological order. And not until pretty much days before getting Bitterblue (but before rereading Graceling), did my friend point out: “Isn’t the little princess Katsa and Po save in Graceling, named Bitterblue?” My response: O.O “How did I not remember that??”
So I tried all my sources to getting a copy of Bitterblue, knowing all the sudden that I just couldn’t wait another two months till it came out to have it. Because then, I didn’t want to buy it until it came to paperback. That’s too long! I finally acquired it through eBay. I know, horrible. Not my usual method for getting ARCs. And when the package arrived, nothing could pry it from my hands, or wipe my amazed smile off my face for a whole two days.
And then it hit me that this was it. After I finished Bitterblue, no more of the Seven Kingdoms!! The thought was crushing! Eventually though, I managed to crack it open and it proceeded to mesmerize me for a full 75 pages before I could look away. Then I quickly put my bookmark in and paced around the room, searching for something to distract me, in order for it to last longer.
This routine lasted for a full two weeks I think. Torturous.
Now, about ten minutes ago, I finally finished it, obviously. And besides one tiny thing that annoys me and I’m getting over, I am very happy with how it turned out. That is completely my opinion remember.
First thing that caught my eye, pun intended, was Bitterblue is a very different character than Katsa or Fire. She is younger, is not Graced/ has special powers, and she is so very ignorant. I wasn’t sure how to grasp that at first, and took me a while to understand why she had to be so different.
            The whole plot of Bitterblue, is her trying to figure out what happened in Leck’s thirty-five year cruel reign. And I sympathze with her, because it’s an awful path she goes down, and her job as “Lady Queen” is to discover and heal her kingdom. A task I would trade anything not to have. And it’s not her fault she is ignorant of most of time. *mpft* Everyone seems subconsciously determined to keep her from finding anything out.
Leck. Yes, he is the reason these stories exist. And could technically be considered the main character, since all three books revolve around him in some way or another. Anyway, he vaguely bugged me in the other two books, but in Bitterblue, it’s easy to say he becomes more alive than ever. By the end…without spoiling anything…with some information we find out, about his reign everybody can’t remember, I actually felt physically sick about the things he did. Usually book characters don’t effect me like that, but the depth of his influence is really well written.
That brings about a weird thing I’d like to mention. (This is so fun writing all this, sorry if it is boring to others, my ranting.) –When the book starts out, I immediately got this sense that something was extremely off with Bitterblue’s castle. And her staff. And her city. It’s conveyed very well, and I felt just as annoyed, confused and scared as Bitterblue when she is discovering everything. Or not discovering everything. It’s like her own little strange Wonderland. Yes, I am using that comparison. The mood definitely changes though, at a certain point. Endless lies in this story. Watch for them.
Cyphers!!! The central theme for Bitterblue! I couldn’t get enough of them. All of it was so fun to read, and hopeless to try to figure out. I love that Bitterblue is like a math genius. I think she got the intellectual straw, whereas Katsa and Fire got the kick-ass ones. (I would rather have the latter.)
I am trying SUPER HARD not to put any spoilers here, but I am bursting at the seams trying not to say all the unbelievable events/appearances that ended the book. Mmmpppffttt!!!!!
Oh there is so much I would like to write about, like the huge amount of fun and creative supporting characters (Death!)…but I have to stop myself sometime…just a little bit more. (If you have questions, want spoilers, or if you’ve read it and want to excitedly discuss Bitterblue with me, send me an email!)
The one part that let me down at the end, just a little, little bit (okay more than a little bit)…the romance. I am very familiar with Cashore’s feministic writing ways. That’s probably why this series remains on the top of my favorite books list. But Bitterblue wasn’t really about the romance at all, compared to Graceling and Fire. At least at the end of those two, they contained ambiguous endings…that’s all I can say. Sorry I said even that much to those who haven’t read the book! J But it’s still nice. I love Saf. So so much. With his purple eyes and gold in his ears, so adorable! Dreamy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this little crazy rant thing of mine. To sum up overall, Bitterblue was everything I expected, a great read.

One more thing, I am slightly mollified at, is that i still like Fire and Graceling more. Isn't that crazy? I was in denial about it for a while, but now I realized that as much as Bitterblue was awesome, I still like the previous two books better. I am excited to see what Cashore has in store next!

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