Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Reasons for reading: heard it was really good - one of our book suppliers said she was recommending it for all teenage girls who asked her for Twilight!; for the Young Adult Challenge
First line: "In these dungeons, the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind."
Katsa really has to grow in this novel - she goes from feeling like nothing more than an attack dog, treated with fear and revulsion by almost everyone, to realizing that she is caring, intelligent, and that her Grace is something more than she realized. She grows into her Grace and, along the way, learns how to care about people and allow them to care about her.
The romance element with Po also works well - it's not treacly at all. These two have finally found a person who is both their equal and a complement to their personalities.
The verdict: I can't wait to read the sequel, Fire! This is a novel that works well as everything - an adventure, a fantasy, a coming-of-age story, and a romance! (I wonder what my Grace would be....?)