Shadow and Bone – Review

I bought this book during my short stint as a Chapters employee (loved the 30% discount and miss it and working there dearly), after it was recommended by a fellow co-worker. I started reading it immediately and got halfway through before I was swamped with midterms and essays, and the book completely slipped my mind.

The release of the final book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising brought about an incredible and slightly terrifying excitement among the twitter bugs I follow. This was me amongst it all:

Finally, it was Lauren DeStefano’s tweet that sent me back towards Shadow and Bone. 

So did it live up to all its glorious hype?

It did. It did.

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

I guessed the setting of Shadow and Bone to be in a fantastical version of Russia. The names – Alina Starkov, Baghra, to name a few – as well as the buildings featured in the cover give the atmosphere of that great and vast country. At first, the cover wasn’t anything special to me, but as I look at it now, I can’t help but smile, because I understand it fully.

When you open the book, one of the first things you get it a map. I love this. I think it’s always helpful to have a map in books involving journeys or fictional lands where the characters aren’t in one location. Moreover, there was a little glossary of the different types of Grisha, who are largely part of the premise. I love this because books where there’s no explanation whatsoever of the abilities or meanings of their imaginary terms and people and powers can be confusing. It’s not fun trying to figure out what exactly is happening when I’m trying to disappear into the book, so I loved this about Shadow and Bone. 

Right off the bat (the first time and the second), I knew that Leigh Bardugo’s writing style is the kind I love: opting for descriptive words fused into the action rather than paragraphs of description, lovely words – some of which I had to look up, and this is the power of learning in reading – and a wry, witty sense of humour in the characters. The writing flowed well, and I never encountered sentences that seemed awkward or stilted. One thing I didn’t like was the way each chapter seemed to end of a gloomy, sad, or despondent note. It was like the entire chapter ended on a sigh. Other than that, I really don’t have any complaints about the writing.

“I wasn’t sure of what I wanted. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore.” 

Ya don’t say? Alina, to me, was a good enough character, but I wasn’t thrilled with her. For me, she sat on the fence for far too long. Just like in the above quote, she doesn’t know what she wants, where she’s going, who is she, who she wants, and that kind of indecisiveness is something that turns me off a character. I desperately hope to see her grow in the next two books. I liked the Darkling . I liked the Darkling (and I’m itching to know his real name!) until I couldn’t like him. I felt the connection between him and Alina and it gave me delicious tingles in a way Mal and Alina couldn’t. Mal’s speech was beautiful, but it didn’t move me like the Darkling did.  For me, Mal is the second male lead. The one who provides a conflict for the first male lead and first female lead, but ultimately doesn’t get the girl. In the next two books, I hope to see him move out of this mould and I would love to get to know his character more.

The plot was a bit slow at the beginning, but it picked up about halfway through. Then two-thirds of the way in the entire book goes psych, sucka! and then all of a sudden, there was a definite speed and thrill to the plot – as evidenced by the warm burn running along my finger tips. Only at that point did I really feel myself getting invested in the characters and in the plot. I had to resist the urge to yell, DAMNIT MAL, DAMNIT ALINA, STEP UP, MAN.

And then two second later, DAMNIT ALINA, THIS ISN’T THE TIME TO BE FORGETFUL AND MYSTERIOUS. GET. IT. TOGETHER. 

Hopefully my message gets through in the second book, which I am going to order right now, with my 25% Chapters discount. See you all after Siege and Storm.

 

 

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