Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
I should probably tell you that Shadow and Bone was one of my most anticipated debut of the year. I mean seriously, that blurb? I bent over BACKWARDS to get myself a copy of it.
I couldn’t have been more excited for the world, and I was right. The mythology, the society–everything. It was just so utterly fantastic. I admit, at times I wasn’t entirely following what was going on, but that was okay because I was able to get just enough information to take a stab at what they actually meant. I wish I could be more articulate about the world, but I’ve been trying here and I just lapse into nonsensical LOVE SO MUCH. Basically: If you pick up this book because you want to see a new world, you will NOT be disappointed.
Alina, the main character, isn’t a bad narrator. She had some realistic responses, even though she feels a bit petulant at times. By biggest hang up with her, though, was the romance. (If you know me, this is the point where you roll your eyes and go “Of course you did, you are NEVER happy with YA romance, dear sweet creator of chocolate.”) Alina seems to be legitimately hung up on her childhood friend Mal in the beginning, but then she goes “Whoops I’m in love with the Darkling now!” Stupidly in love, too. Then she goes, “Whoops I never really trusted the Darkling at all I love you Mal!” Unfortunately, I’ve learned to glaze my eyes over when this sort of thing happens in YA now.
Plus, with this world, I was willing to give Bardugo a million and three chances.
The book began with a good amount of action that slipped in the middle and then jumped up back at the end. To be fair, the entire middle was spent trying to explain Shadow and Bone’s world and the magic and I drank it all in. Every description was spectacular, down to the Grisha’s robes which I now want to own. NOW PLEASE.
It was also at the end that other things started slipping. Big, spectacular moments that could have been dragged out for dramatic purposes were clipped over and several plot devices at the end didn’t seem to fit. For the whole last fourth, I wanted to yell NO NO SLOW DOWN, GIMME MORE. I guess several things couldn’t be completely explained because the novel was written in the first person, but still. Too many plot points twisted out of Alina’s sight for me to understand them clearly.
All and all, I found Shadow and Bone to be a solid debut novel. Bardugo has crafted a unique world that I want to fall into over and over again. Though almost too many things were left unexplained, I still cannot wait for the second book to come out. I recommend Shadow and Bone to any fans of YA fantasy, especially those looking a new and unique world. Despite my griping about the romance, it certainly isn’t a large focus point of the novel–which is a selling point for me, a detriment for others, but there you have it.
Bottom line? READ THIS.
The second book in the Grisha Trilogy, Seige and Storm, is expected to be released in 2013.