Bitterblue – A Discussion

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.

5 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

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  2. Gravatar

    The book takes place 8 years after gracling so bitterblue is 18. Loved your assessment of the because while I didn’t love it like I loved gracling I would the next book if she wrote one

  3. Gravatar

    Although I felt I couldn’t put the book down and found myself eagerly anticipating the next page, I can’t help but agree with your review.

    I enjoyed the book as I was reading it, yes, but after reading the last page and examining the last illustration, I realised that I was (like you) rather disappointed with how the story turned out.

    When it comes down right to it, I think there were just far too many characters, subplots, and subtext that were not fully developed – a lot of elements that were partly fleshed out but ultimately forgotten and left aside. I felt that this was particularly true in relation to the relationship between BB and Saf, as well as that between BB and Giddon. The book as a whole lacked clarity and was poorly and unevenly paced – had there been a higher degree of credibility and a pace to match the plot, then I genuinely believe Cashore’s latest could have been amazing.

    As it was, I found this book to be one part enjoyable (due largely to the secondary characters), one part unsatisfying, and two parts disappointing.

    If “Bitterblue” turns out to be the start of a structured two- or three-book series, perhaps I would have felt a lesser dose of disappointment – all I know is that as a standalone, this book could and should have been much, much more.

    That said, I do love Cashore’s imagination, world-building, and characterisations, so I’ll certainly be on the lookout for her next literary offering. :-)

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    I so agree with you. I was so unimpressed with Bitterblue who was so uninteresting as a character and needed everyone to care for her, cater to her, and who used people. The book will not b,e reread as I do so many others. She ruined the series for me. I hated the snippets of Katsa, such as she rushed in the room, she rushed out, she jumped in the pool. Katsa was almost cartoonish in this book, and that’s unforgivable. Thanks, I feel better seeing someone held similar disappointments.

  5. Gravatar

    Even though I also immensely enjoyed the book while I was reading it, I have to admit that it’s not an honestly good piece of literature. One thing to clear up about Giddon: in “Graceling” Giddon is what? Eighteen years old? Twenty? (Meanwhile, Bitterblue is ten.)
    BB had a lot of older characters caring for her and being her friends, so it’s not odd that she developed a close relationship with him, but I think their age difference makes the whole situation between them self-explanatory. (Notice how Katsa, and Po, and Giddon all treat her as younger – they take care of her, and there are two or three times where they tell her to mind her own business…)

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