Nowadays, I tend to look at YA fiction through the slightly hysterical lens of WHAT IS THIS TELLING MY GODDAUGHTER?
I like what this book is telling my goddaughter.
It's telling her that she's powerful and strong, that she lives in a world as much inhabited by women as men, and that she can do whatever she damn well wants. That love and compassion and courage have nothing to do with gender.
It's also telling her she deserves to be loved for exactly who she is.
He laughed “You may hunt for my food and protect me when we’re attacked, if you like. I’ll thank you for it.”
“But I’d never need to protect you, if we were attacked. And I doubt you need me to do your hunting, either.”
“True. But you’re better than I am, Katsa. And it doesn’t humiliate me.” He fed a branch to the fire. “It humbles me. But it doesn’t humiliate me.”
So, we have a brash, bold, emotionally distant heroine and a gentle, more emotionally secure hero. We also have a world bristling with amazing characters, lots of them women, some of them gay.
It's a bit rough round the edges in places. The naming conventions are kind of silly. The writing is functional rather than stunning. And for people who like their fantasy world building done with a trowel, it'll probably seem a flimsy and lacklustre.
But I love this. And I look forward to sharing it with Kathryn when she's a teeny bit older.