Graceling by Kristin Cashore
In Katsa's world, those who possess a Grace, an unusually powerful skill, recognized by their different-colored eyes, are often shunned and avoided by the ordinary people. Katsa has it worse than most Graced, for her Grace is the Grace of killing, a Grace that her uncle, King Randa, uses to keep his subjects in line.
But Katsa is sick of always obeying her uncle's orders, being forced to perform these tasks she hates and having to hide her good side. Still, she sees no way out of her miserable, savage life...until she meets Po, a prince from a faraway island kingdom, whose secret business coincides with hers. Po is Graced with the art of combat, and they are well matched in fighting.
A friendship develops between Katsa and Po, and they are thrown together even more as they set off to defend their world from the clutches of a powerful and dangerous king. Katsa must contend with her wild nature if she is to get to know Po, if she is to learn about the truth about their Graces and characters. Together, they may just be able to save their world and make it a better place.
The characterizations of Katsa and Po in Graceling are incredible; it's impossible to not like them and feel for them as they struggle with their internal conflicts and emotions for one another. On the other hand, I felt like much of the plot-conflict in this novel was thrown in almost helter-skelter; conflicts were suddenly introduced and resolved in a matter of pages. I would have liked more back-story, so that I could've better understand Katsa and Po's world. That being said, Graceling is still an incredible debut fantasy novel, sure to appeal to all fantasy lovers who also like a good romance.