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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Expected Publication Date: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: Dial
Page Count: 545 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Book Club
* This is the third book in the Graceling Realm series. If you have not read the first two books in this series my review may contain spoilers! *
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
I absolutely adored both Graceling and Fire, but Bitterblue was so much of a disappointment, I don't even know what to say about it. I feel like Cashore spent so much time writing this one that she forgot about how beautiful and exciting her first two books were. Bitterblue is incredibly whiney and dependent on everyone around her (nothing like the fierce heroines of the first two books) and because she's always confused, I was always confused. I've spent the last 3 years or so impatiently waiting for a third installment in this series, and it was not worth the wait at all. This book is way too long and could have been so much better if it had been edited down and didn't involve so many plot twists.

There are way too many characters to remember in this book, and the only ones I genuinely enjoyed reading about were Katsa and Po. I fell in love with Katsa and Po in Graceling and I really wish there was more of them in Bitterblue. Bitterblue is one of the worst heroines I've read about in a long time. I understand that she's inherited this grief stricken kingdom that's slowly coming out of Leck's reign, but she doesn't seem to do much for herself. She basically relies completely on her advisors (who were once Leck's advisors) to tell her anything and everything about her kingdom, and they do a horrible job. I have to admit, she's a pretty terrible queen but she doesn't do a lot to fix that. And she's always calling on Po or other people to help her out of sticky situations rather than handling things herself which really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, I loved how independent and fierce Katsa and Fire were in their books, and Bitterblue is nothing like them!

The writing itself is really incomplete and confusing at times. I wonder if Cashore meant for the book to be written with a sort of confusing plot line, because Bitterblue is so confused, but either way I didn't enjoy it. I was constantly having to backtrack and at some points I just felt like I had no idea what was going on or how the characters got from one place to another. Story lines became jumbled in my mind and I started forgetting who was supposed to do what, and who was who, and who was someone else, and why they were going here or there... see... confusing! I just feel like there was so much hype surrounding this book and it fell short on so many levels.

While Graceling was an amazing beginning and Fire had me burning for more, Bitterblue fell short in so many ways. I just had too many problems with this book to really enjoy it the way I wanted. I put it down more than once to pick up something else, and sometimes I even dreaded having to go back to it. I'm glad I finished it, because there were some amazing parts in the end, but overall I don't think this book was really worth the month it took me to read it. If you loved Fire and Graceling as much as I did then you might be a tad disappointed with this one. I really wish Kristin Cashore would write a continuation of Katsa and Po's story!!


  1. Hmm I guess it's good I'm not paying for this book then lol great review Anna

  2. I really enjoyed Graceling - as you've said, Katsa was a really strong character and I enjoyed reading about her. I admit, Fire wasn't so good for me, probably because she seemed, well. More whiny than Katsa. Not that I'm saying I want two heroines exactly the same - it's just my preference and opinion.

    This sounds like Bitterblue has continued the whiny-ness, but enhanced!

    I'll probably end up checking it out anyway - I hate not reading the end of series', but this sounds like it might be one to get from the library!

  3. OH. NO. Don't SAY those THINGS. I can't believe that about this book. I'm determined to see for myself and I'm PRAYING I won't be so disappointed.

  4. Ah darn what a bummer. I remember you being seriously excited to read it. I read Graceling but I never got to Fire (I'm not a super huge fan of fantasy). I'm not sure how I'd like the confusion in this though that's usually when fantasy becomes a big old DNF for me. I guess we'll see. I might try the audiobook or something - that's how I "read" graceling after my eye surgery.

  5. Such a shame! I enjoyed Graceling and Fire and I was definitely looking forward to this . . . but I still have faith in this book so we'll see. Great and honest review!

  6. I've heard great things about this series and I know most people loved the previous books - too bad this one wasn't as good :(

  7. Such a shame! I've seen mixed reviews. Some LOVE it and others, like yourself, found it not to their tastes. I still plan on reading Bitterblue when it comes out. Maybe I will like it better than you did. Maybe not.

  8. Oh, I am sorry you didn't like it. That really sucks considering how AMAZING Graceling and Fire are!

    Kristin @

  9. Oh no. *sigh* I am so disappointed to hear this. I loved Graceling and high hopes for this one with Bitterblue, Katsa and Po. Even through Graceling and Fire I was confused a lot but I am guessing this one will be 5x worse for me. I'll still give it a shot because I will take any bit of Katsa and Po I can get, but I am not in any rush. Thanks for your honest review. :)

  10. I am glad that there are some people who think the same way about Bitterblue as I do. So many positive reviews, but it was such a dismal reading experience for me!

  11. So I only just skimmed your review because I still haven't read Graceling even though it's been sitting on my shelf for a few months now **ashamed** I've heard only great things and I need to read this series like NOW! It saddens me to hear that the final book just doesn't do a series justice. Great review :)

    Crystal @ Elegantly Bound Books

  12. Since I haven't read the series I just kind of read bits and pieces of your review. It's too bad that it didn't live up to the hype. I am always really worried about that when I am super excited for a book to come out.

  13. I've read Bitterblue, and while I didn't dislike it as much as you did, I totally agree with everything that you said. It was long, and confusing, and Bitterblue's dependence on her advisers really made me mad at points. But, I feel like Bitterblue grows as a character at the end. The ending is what redeemed this book for me, really. I definitely didn't love it as much as the first two books, but I thought it was an ok ending to the series. Great review, I feel like you really covered all the things that I thought about Bitterblue!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  14. I'm not going to fully read the review since I haven't read the 1st two books, but I will say that I love that cover. I love keys. And I heard the 1st book is really good.

  15. Ooooh, noooo! Sorry it was a bit of fizzer... I'm a little worried about it... I mean, we've all been waiting so long for it and... I SO I *GET* it being a little confusing, politics ARE confusing, but this? It sounds like more than that and... *bites nails*

    Thanks for the fabulous review! I'm worried, but I'm still looking forward to seeing Katsa and Po again :)

  16. Oh no... I loved Graceling, and I was actually looking forward to reading this.

    Anyway, I admire you for your honest review. We really need more of those.

  17. I'm so incredibly excited for both Bitterblue and Insurgent to come out next week. I was leaning towards starting Insurgent first... and your review just pushed me even more in that direction. I read that Kristin Cashore said that Bitterblue is a very different kind of book than Graceling and Fire so I was trying to go in open-minded. I hope I can find some good in it.

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews


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