Title: Bitterblue I Author: Kristin Cashore I Publisher: Penguine/Dial
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offers the following synopsis for Bitterblue:
Katsa saved her life, but now Bitterblue has to save her kingdom.
Actual Plot Summary: Eighteen year old Queen Bitterblue has held her title since she was ten. That's when both her mother and father died violent deaths. Bitterblue's mother (Ashen) was killed by Bitterblue's father (Leck) and Leck was killed by Bitterblue's cousin Katsa who is a Graceling of extraordinary military skill. Leck was also a Graceling with the ability to manipulate the minds of anyone he chose to control. He was adopted by the childless former king and queen of Monsea because he influenced their minds. Leck was made heir to the throne just days before he murdered them.
Queen Bitterblue struggles to remember her past because King Leck successfully wiped her memory of anything that would explain the history of Monsea. Her uncle is the king of Lienid and he appointed advisors to guide the queen in ruling Monsea. Her advisors protect Bitterblue from any serious details regarding her kingdom. She grows bored and begins to sneak out of the castle at night to find out information about her kingdom first hand. On her first night out of the castle, she encounters two thieves (Teddy and Saf) and eventually befriends them.
Teddy and Saf show Bitterblue a kingdom on the brink of despair as it tries to recover from King Leck's violent and grizzly reign of terror. They introduce her to their lesbian associates who are aiding the resistance to "forward-thinking" by teaching people to read. Additionally, the two women are hoping to convince Teddy to father a child for them.
With the assistance of Bitterblue's closest friends and family (Po, Katsa, Giddon, Prince Raffin and really an excess of other characters) as well as Teddy and Saf, they end the tyranny of ignorance that "forward-thinking" produces.
In the meantime, Bitterblue falls in love with Saf and they consummate their love before he leaves to explore new worlds, but Bitterblue needs not worry about dealing with an unwanted pregnancy since her healer and Katsa separately offer her the Monsean equivalent of "Plan B" contraception called "Seabane." Katsa, it turns out, is an expert on contraception as the reader will discover through Katsa's naked encounters with Po.
This young adult book has earned a mature rating for extremely graphic violence, extreme sexual content, extremely aberrant behavior and extreme fantasy. It also contains references to rape, pedophilia and multiple suicides. There are frequent but mild uses of inappropriate language, frequent references to homosexual relationships and gay marriage, mild alcohol references. It receives two and a half stars for story development.
Review : Rather than recount the litany of literary assaults that Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore pounds into the minds of unsuspecting children, I will instead treat you to one excerpt from this book…a book which happens to be one of the American Library Association's recommended YA books for 2013. Keep in mind that the YA genre is defined by the American Library Association as appropriate reading for children 12 to 18. The excerpt that I am presenting is indicative of the respect that the innocence of your children will be shown by the author as they read this novel.
The passage I'm quoting is the hypothetical text taken from King Leck's personal journal. Queen Bitterblue reads this narration of the exhilaration her father felt as he used his mind-control techniques to force adult men to rape, mutilate and experiment on his subjects… with his preference of subjects being young girls:
"There is a purity in counting my knives. There is a purity sometimes in the hospital too, when I let patients feel the pain. Some of them release such exquisite cries. It sounds as if blood itself is screaming. The roundness of the ceiling and the dampness make for such acoustics. The walls shine black. But then the cries upset the others. The fog begins to lift from their minds and they begin to understand what they are hearing, and the men begin to understand what they are doing, and then I have to punish them, awe them, shame them, make them dread me and need me until they have forgotten, all of them, and that is so much more work than keeping them always blind.
There are a precious few I keep for myself and treat away from the hospital. There always have been. Bellamew is one and Ashen [Leck's wife and Bitterblue's mother] is another. I let no one watch, unless I am making someone watch as punishment. It is punishment to Thiel to watch me with Ashen. I do not let him touch her and sometimes I cut him. In those moments when it is private, in my rooms, closed away and I hold my knives, the perfection comes back for an instant. For just an instant, peace. My lessons with my child [Bitterblue] will be this way. It will be perfect with my child."
Now, what I find interesting with this passage is that eventually one of the main characters of the story (Giddon) begs Bitterblue to stop "reading the psychotic ramblings of your father."
These are words of wisdom if I've ever heard any. But here's the problem with Giddon's sage advice. You see, there aren't actually any psychotic ramblings of Bitterblue's father for Bitterblue to stop reading. Follow that nuance for a moment because this is where an adult can step out of the parameters dictated by the author to recognize that Bitterblue's father isn't actually real. He's a character. He exists only in the mind of the author until the author puts pen to paper and constructs a scene of her choosing, so if King Leck is entertaining his journal with stories of rape and pedophilia, those musings are only his because the writer made them so. The psychotic ramblings of rape and pedophilia aren't King Leck's at all. They belong to Kristin Cashore.
And please don't misunderstand me. Kristen Cashore can write whatever she is moved to write. By all means, she should do what she pleases. We call that freedom of expression. Penguin/Dial books should feel free to publish whatever that company thinks will bring it the most revenue and glory. We call that freedom of association.
The question that I put to you is whether the taxpayer funded American Library Association should feel equally free to recommend whatever book promotes its own "forward-thinking" agenda when that book includes passages like the one listed above knowing full well that its recommendation will affect the YA book inventories of libraries and schools throughout the country?
Moreover, based on the excerpt I've listed, can anyone please explain exactly what the ALA's agenda actually is with regard to your children? No, look. I realize that the ALA leapt on this title for inclusion in their "best of" list because a) it promotes premarital sex and the use of contraception b) it sustains a heavy emphasis on the promotion of homosexual relationships and same sex marriage throughout the story and c) it promotes the inherent dysfunctionality of the archetypal family unit paradigm as is popular in progressive deconstruction memes, so the assumption might be that the sadistic, sociopathic pedophile got past the YA screeners at the ALA only for the greater good of progressive social constructs.
But out of the fourteen ALA books that we have reviewed for this series, the overpowering commonality threading these books together is not specifically promiscuity, homosexuality or counterproductive family archetypes. The common theme is wanton, violent cruelty.
The ALA, therefore, must not be concerning itself greatly with the social agenda that we would normally associate with modern liberalism. It would seem that YALSA's recommendations are not about the promotion of promiscuity, drugs, homosexuality, etc. after all. That's just the happy coincidence. If the principal agenda of YA literature is to repetitively walk young minds through thought processes associated psychosis then YA literature is nothing more than the promotion and instruction of brutal sadism.
That means that, in spite of the insistence that they want society to evolve, the left's real agenda is to teach children dissociative techniques that would allow them to disregard societal cooperation in favor of barbarism.
Through YA literature that is being promoted by the American Library Association, your children are being pressed into the service of the king and the king is anarchy.
PS: Two and a half stars because the book is just ferociously dull and repetitive throughout large portions of the narrative.
PPS: I obviously don't recommend this book, but let's just state that point for the record.
PPPS: The YALSA "Best of" list for 2014 is now available online. We will continue reviewing books from 2013, but we will bounce between the two lists starting next week.