Firstly I will say that beyond this line there will be spoilers unbound for Bitterblue and any of the other books in the Graceling series. You have been warned.
I was late reading Graceling. In fact, I read Fire directly after reading Graceling. I didn’t care much for Cashore’s choppy writing style, or the fact that she seemed to mismatch old and new language together. I felt that it broke me out of the continuity of reading and I did feel that issue was addressed in Fire which I adored immensely.
Maybe having to wait so long between Fire and Bitterblue was the problem, maybe no book can withstand the amount of speculation and doe eyed waiting that this book endured. I (and my book club) had major problems with the story of Bitterblue and even months after reading I cannot rid myself of the disappointment and risk ridicule and more by posting this but I feel it is important to be discussed, especially because of the wait and length and what I feel is a blind appreciation of the book without examining the contents.
I can’t remember now if it was seven or ten years after Leck died and Bitterblue became queen. Let us use ten years because I feel it was ten, though I can’t remember exactly.
Why did Bitterblue all of a sudden decide she needed to know what was going on in her kingdom? What did she do for the previous ten years? Yes, she had advisors. Yes, she had a lot of trauma to deal with. Yes, I understand all of those things but I still feel that we were not given a good reason. None of these I listed were even given as a reason. Her motivation while noble is entirely unclear and clarity is not something that this book can boast. I feel that without the motivation being clear I was already at the beginning of the book uninterested and not connected to the character.
Gideon. While it was always clear that Saf was the main love interest (and I adored him until something we will get to later in this post) I feel like we were meant to wonder if BB had feelings for Gideon and then that subplot was completely dropped. We have scenes of him truly understand her, of her missing him, of her lying in his lap, of him defending her honor, but in the end not even a passing word about the pair even in friendship is mentioned. Gideon was a well fleshed out character that should have been used for more than a plot device.
UNLESS THERE IS ANOTHER BOOK, then maybe this will be addressed.
Saf, oh Saf. You are wounded, and twisted, and you hate authority. ME TOO! So really what was your function in this realm other than to take the Queen’s virginity and then hate her for what she is. She can no more change who she is than you can change who you are. A thief, and a liar. But did she care so little for you? Saf used BB in every way possible, and he seemed to do it to hasten the plot. To give BB info and insight she wouldn’t normally have. If there is a new book and Saf comes back all like “I’m sorry BB” and BB is all like “Whatevs I will always love you” my feminism will just die right there.
Because it is okay to love a bad boy, and it is okay to be in a toxic relationship but it will not be okay with me if an already simpering compared to the other females in the series character accepts this relationship and treatment.
Even though the book was a kazillon pages long I never felt LOVE between BB and Saf and I did not understand their motivations half of the time. Yes the country was ruled by Leck. Yes there are creepy things afoot and no one has their memories and if they do they can’t trust them but so much of this book was posturing and not advancing the plot whatsoever.
And convenience. Oh convenience. I know that Po has a Grace and that Grace is awesome but to have BB use it every single time she had a problem (and not let her solve her own problems mind you) was making me insane. She didn’t even have to get off her ass and go look for Po to solve her problems for her, she only had to use his spidey sense and he would come running. I really disliked this use of Po’s grace.
I fear, dear readers, that I will not be reading a future book (which is supposedly forthcoming) until I have heard from trusted sources on whether it is worth the time spent.
All that being said I didn’t hate the book at all. Disappointed, maybe a little but there were bright shining moments of plot. Death, the ciphers, and the girl whose grace was hiding. Teddy, and Gideon, and the gay prince and his fears. These were all things that kept me reading. It is too bad that the MC was the character who left me wanting.