Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
What is it about? Now eighteen and Queen of Monsea, Bitterblue has found that she is surrounded by lies. Her advisors have presented her with a distorted version of reality and she is just now discovering that her entire kingdom is filled to the brim with deceit. These lies hide behind corners and inside people Bitterblue thought she knew. They embed themselves into everyone around her, including the people she loves the most. They torture these people and create a mist around any logical thought, almost as if King Leck were still alive and forcing people to do his bidding by manipulating their minds. Except Leck isn’t alive and these lies shouldn’t be taking place. But after thirty-five years of being lied to Monsea is going to take not only time, but people’s lives as it struggles to uncover the truth from its people and its history.
What did you think of it & why did you pick it up: This book drove me CRAZY up until the very last sentence. It took me almost a week to read it because of this (and admittedly, because I had a lot going on this week) which is a long time for me and now I’m slightly angry because I’m behind on my reading for this month. BUT it was a good kind of crazy. The kind where I had to occasionally put the book down and take a deep breath before resuming to read because I was overwhelmed by how much I felt for the characters and their situations, whether they were in a good situation or a bad one. I admit, I didn’t sob or anything. Probably because, although third-person is great and definitely works for Kristin Cashore’s novels (and lots of other fantasy novels), I am just used to reading teen dramas in first person where you know the protagonists thoughts at all times. But that’s the point; Kristin Cashore wrote a more plot-based novel using a slightly less personal ! method and still manages to make me feel empathy. Even if I didn’t cry, I definitely teared up and had to sit down for awhile to absorb.
What I like about Kristin Cashore’s characters is that they are complex. And more than that, their relationships are complex. There is a rather large cast of characters but they are all relevant and they all have histories and lives that affect the way they interact with each other. I’ve read a couple other reviews on Bitterblue and one critic mentioned that she liked the fact that the women and men in the novel could say ‘I love you’ and kiss and hug and be completely platonic. I definitely agree with this! The Lienid probably do this the most of all and I just couldn’t help myself from falling in love with Po and the love interest, Saf who are both Lienid. Also, the books have no problem with gay characters which you don’t see enough in fantasy’s and is just awesome in general.
Kristin Cashore is just a very brave writer overall and I admire her for that. Honestly that’s why I give her books five stars every time. She always surprises me and I realize that her series is probably one of the most original, complex, and passionate ones I’ve ever read. I say passionate because all of her female leads ARE passionate (and the rest of the characters, don’t worry). Even when they are faced with impossible odds and have to break down occasionally, they always get back up. They do it for the people who are depending on them. I sort of imagine Cashore to be this way because you know that books like this have must have more work put into them than most others.
Overall Cashore has created a great book here and a great series. It is so great that I can’t even pick my favorite book from it. Although you don’t have to read Graceling or Fire to understand Bitterblue it’s really cool to see how everything just comes together in that final book. I would definitely recommend these to anyone. Except maybe romance fanatics. Because although it did contain romance and it was a somewhat big deal it wasn’t the biggest factor in the book either. Still, that was to be expected and it wasn’t an issue. Don’t be worried about the size either because even if you start to feel a little frustrated in the beginning with how big and how complicated it is (like I did) you won’t be able to put it down by the end of the book.
I would suggest this for: Fantasy and dystopian lovers and just book lovers in general. Its a novel for all ages.
Reviewed by: Lauren B.