Not a bad book. I did have some issues with it though.
I found Cashore's writing style to be poor with her descriptions unclear and weak, though the storyline kept me reading despite it. Perhaps the book would have fared better with a more descriptive writer. However, i have not read a Y.A. book in a while and just came from GRRM's ASOIAF so perhaps i am judging her unfairly.
I found the romance parts to be badly done (and overdone) at times also and some of the character interactions didn't feel in sync with their personalities. Also, the final confrontation scene came off as rushed.
Though this book is aimed at young adults and addresses issues unsuitable for children, ultimately i felt that i was reading a children's book as a result of the poor writing.
I do wish someone had mentioned to me that the next two books are not from Katsa's POV, i think it'd be interesting to see where her story goes as she gets older. Po also.
I may skip Fire since it's set 30 years prior to Graceling, and instead go straight to Bitterblue with the hope that her writing has improved. That was a major let down for me because i really think that Cashore's world is creatively constructed and has much potential.
Many people are upset about the feminism so apparent in the book. Being a feminist, i had no issue with this but again, i think her writing style made it so obvious that it was annoying.
Yes, we get that she doesn't want to marry or have kids, and knows she shouldn't have to.
Yes, we get that she doesn't like being tied to anyone.
Bringing this up over and over again just got irritating even for me and i can relate to her not wanting to ever get married. I think the female empowerment theme could have been more cleverly written into the story, so that it was there and readers were clearly aware of it, but so its not as 'in your face' that it becomes excruciating to read.
I didn't find it 'man hating' at all however, as some people are describing it. Katsa is clearly in harmony with many men in the story and i don't find any portrayal to be anti-male at all. Raffin and his friend, Po, Ror, Po's brother and grandfather, just to name a few. I'm puzzled what made people think that in the first place.
Oh and feminism is not about man hating in the first place. Its main point is equality.