By Norah Wilson
(the Wilson in Wilson Doherty)

I’ve burned through a ton of YA books this past year, many of which are keepers. Others were more flawed, but still offered a good story. And then there were some that were downright scary.
Confession time:  Personally, I love an ambiguous hero, one the heroine isn’t entirely sure she can trust at the outset – in my adult romance. But when it comes to YA and some of the more stalkerish heroes I’ve read lately ... well, it just makes me squirm a little. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me; I mean, I know young readers are more sophisticated than ever. But given the prevalence of verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse in adolescent dating relationships, I’m just not comfortable with the stalkerish hero.

Enter Prince Po, the hero in GRACELING, by Kristin Cashore. For my money, Po is the best YA boyfriend ever.

But let me back up a moment. The story itself is very heroine-centric. Katsa is a Graceling, one of the rare people born with an inherent, extreme skill. Hers is killing. Like all Gracelings, she is taken from her parents early and placed in the service of her King, who uses her as a brutal enforcer. The book is a fascinating journey as Katsa grows into her own, taking control and ownership of her body, her skill, her very self. I adored Katsa, but Po stole my heart. Sweet, gentle, sexy, heroic Po.

Bottom line: I loved this book, and couldn’t put it down. Now I can’t wait to read its prequel, FIRE.


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