I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
Wow. That the only word I thought when I finished this. I have read a lot of young adult fiction this year, and I can say this is one of the best. I enjoyed a good bit of the books I read, but this, along with the Attolia series is one of the deeper YA novels out there. It had a lot of story and dept of content and characters. The characters in this book are both very 3 dimensional. The characters fit the usual types in books, ass-kicking female heroine; smooth talking, fighting, and good looking male. But both characters are also much more. This is ultimately a story about how both characters serve as a catalyst to each other in finding themselves: their strength and true capability and their potential for love and friendship. They grow and get stronger throughout the journey before our eyes.
When we first met Kasta she is doing what she had been doing since she was a child: playing the role as thug for her Uncle the King. He is King of one of seven chaotic Kingdoms in this world, and he uses her as a threat against people to keep them in line and himself in power. She views herself as no more than a tough and killer...because that is how she has been treated her whole life. She has grown up in a world where she is feared and avoided...where she is treated short of an animal and only given respect and acknowledgement when she did the Kings bidding. So she has no real friends except for the young Prince and a few of his companions. So she is harsh and wild and distrustful of people. Then one night, on one of the few missions she does on her own, she meets Po.
Po, when she meets him one night as she was trying to escape the Castle of the Sunder King, is a rather dashing, good-looking, good-natured guy. He tries to prevent her, she thinks, from escaping and they falling into wary conversation. She assumes he is like her, Graced with the skill of killing. She is intrigued from the start, and when he shows up again in her Kingdom looking for his missing Grandfather, she falls into a unlikely friendship with him. Because she thinks he is like her and can relate to him more than others.. she lets her guard down and this leads to her opening up herself more to what is going on around her. Once she becomes more aware...the more she questions her situation and her place in life, and her place with her King. Po himself, who is hiding many things, has never had a real person he can share himself with due to his Grace and he too finds himself opened to more than he was used too. Eventually this leads to romance, but Kasta's self esteem and worth must be rescued from the ditched her Uncle and life before Po put it in. On the surface Kasta and Po are the complete opposite, but as time passes you see that they are nothing but a perfect fit. Both characters are fully realized and fleshed out, and their love for each other makes complete sense. You totally buy into it. Sometimes two characters seem forced together for the good of the story...in this case it seems the two characters make the story.
They start their journey to figure out the mystery of Po's grandfather's kidnapping and a mystery that is handled very well. Once it is discovered what is going on...is rather frightening and edge of your seat. They find that there are more Graces out there that could be a lot more dangerous and scary than the ones they possess. It is easy to see how someone graced with so much power could go wrong, and why many lands fear and try their best to control their Graced. It can so very wrong indeed. The romance, the journey of the too characters finding themselves, and the mystery all work together to make a great book. I am glad I choose to pick this one up.