Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, all she’s ever been able to rely on is her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’ve been sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. She is torn from everything she knows and whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes that she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the Sun Summoner. Only her power can destroy the Fold. Overwhelmed by luxury, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to keep her wits about her without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her mastery of her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha—and the secrets of her heart.
Damn you, Leigh Barduga. Damn you for tricking me.
Leigh Barduga is like some kind of literary crouching tiger, hidden dragon or something.
You would be forgiven, upon commencing this novel, for thinking Shadow and Bone is redundant, cliched piece of tripe book with poor story-telling, average writing and a predictable plot. People who haven’t read countless Young Adult novels probably wouldn’t notice the trends, but I did. This is what I thought and Leigh led me down the primrose path until… BOOM!
Game change. Glorious, glorious game change. Black is white, up is down, you are not secretly attracted to me. EVERYTHING CHANGES.
Kaching. Lights on. Real show begins and we hope you enjoyed that prelude. Also, while you weren’t looking, we falcon-punched your ovaries.
The themes of Shadow and Bone center around power, and the struggle for it. What does it mean? What is it worth? What do you do with it? Also, there’s love and romancey stuff for those who care for such things – and who have a functioning heart.
More importantly, for me, was the violence, court intrigue and sexy times of which make up some part of this novel. These aspects were definitely there but they were flirted with. I would have liked more of these and a little less of the boarding-house shenanigans and bitchy-mean girl drama. It was outside these factors that I loved the novel.
It’s strengths definitely rely on its characters and powerful storyline because the actual narration and writing tended toward the telling as opposed to showing side.
Alexei’s fingers slipped on the railing. I lunged forward and grabbed his arm.
“Hold on!” I cried.
Then the flame vanished, and in the darkness I felt Alexei’s fingers pulled from mine.
“Alexei!” I shouted.
His screams faded into the sounds of battle as the volca carried him into the dark. Another burst of flame lit the sky, but he was gone.
Still, I’m wondering if maybe the things I loved most about Shadow and Bone will be carried on in the next novel. To the very last page I loved the Darkling – not because he was sexy – but for the dark, rawness of his character. The dynamic it played with Alina in how she saw herself. Identity, concepts of misplaced idealism. Lust, love, ownership vs freely given love. It was all there amidst a world-building that was surprisingly lite for this caliber of novel – yet hinted at so much more.
Overall, a great read and I look forward to the next book where Leigh will probably rip out my still-beating heart and feed it to a raging bear while I applaud in amazement. Or, you know, something synonymous.
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