The fantasy genre has taken the world by storm, considering the popularity of such gems as the series begun by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the series begun by Twilight, and more recently, the trilogy began by The Hunger Games. An equally recent newcomer is Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
The basis of the novel was the coming of age, or, more specifically, the arrival of a girl to maturity. The plot itself was driven by mystery. In the opening scene, the protagonist, Katsa, rescues a man who had recently been kidnapped. The question of the kidnapper and his or her purpose drives the entire story. The setup of society into seven countries which share close proximity adds a touch of political commentary to the novel, as well.
The problem with the content in the novel is that the reading level suggests middle school, though the content becomes quite PG-13. The book, though broadcasted at a fifth grade reading level, is suggested for readers of at least age fourteen. Be warned. The book contains about three scenes where the author clearly suggests sexual situations, but she does not specifically tell of the scenes. She speaks more on the events immediately preceding and succeeding the scenes.
I would most suggest this book to teenage or young adult girls, though there are many references to fighting and violence as important plot events. Males of the same age would enjoy many elements of the novel, though many of the elements of maturation and self-realization may go unnoticed.
The book is undoubtedly long, but you forget it somewhat. Fantasy novels tend to run long, and you never seem to want to put them down. This book definitely fits the ticket. In the hardcover version of the book, a small worry is how closely the text comes to the edges of the page. Since the book is hardcover, however, there is no disfiguring of the spine.