Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review - Shadow and Bone


by Leigh Bardvgo 

Published: June 5th 2012
Pages: 358 pages
Series: The Grisha #1 

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 was absolutely pulled in by the cover of this book and I've wanted to read it for ages. I started reading this book in the mornings before I would head off to work. Then, suddenly, reading it chapter by chapter was not enough. I devoured the second half of this book in one night and stayed up until 2am to do so.

At the beginning of this book I was honestly concerned that I wasn't going to like it. Alina is sort of typical when it comes to YA characters at the beginning of this book. She crushes on someone who doesn't notice her, she discovers a new power no one else has, and she is thrown into a new life that should be amazing but she is worried that she isn't good enough to fit in. I think we've all watched this scene play out 100 times. So at the beginning I was understandably unimpressed. Things changed as this story moved forward.

First of all, unlike many stories where the villain is a physical person looking to take over or ruling over a world, the Shadow Fold is the main cause for concern. A huge expanse of land is covered in complete darkness and strange (very frightening) creatures inhabit it. Alina's country is cut off from the sea and many resources by the Shadow Fold. At the beginning of the novel Alina is planning to cross with her unit of soldiers and her best friend Mal. Of course as they cross there is trouble and Alina exhibits a power she didn't know she had. BAM! Alina is taken to work with the Darkling who is powerful but mysterious and told she is the key to saving the world. (This is the part I thought sounded unoriginal)

It is not all bad though! Actually I ended up really liking this story and I am very excited for the sequel. While the setup isn't exactly original, where this story goes is fantastic! The scenery in this book made up for a lot of the other problems. I have to say that Leigh Bardvgo knows how to use description. I often found myself playing out a movie with settings and characters for this book where I could see exactly what was happening as I read. The richness of the detail was complete, but not overwhelming. There are surprises galore about the characters that will turn your world upside down and I never saw them coming. Bardvgo does a wonderful job of making you believe in or suspicious of characters just before she throws you for a loop. I loved every moment.

As I mentioned, I was reading this in the morning in bits and pieces when I had time before I went to work. Usually only a chapter at a time. If there had been a lull in the action, I would have quickly put this book down and moved onto another until I had time to sit down and read it. Instead this book fit my purposes so well that I had trouble putting it down to go to work. I was satisfied with Alina's character development. Her growth as a character was explosive near the end of the novel so I am excited to see what comes in the next book. One thing I wanted to know more about was the magic. Sometimes I felt like instead of being immersed in the magical world I was floating on the surface.

Overall I was satisfied by the end of this book. It improved over the course of the novel and became more of its own story. I understand that this is going to be a trilogy so of course there are things that will not be wrapped up at the end of this novel. There are still a lot of elements that are typical YA, but many of the elements are things I like and enjoy in the story (like a character discovering a power they don't know how to use). I didn't dislike seeing those elements, but I wanted more from this story. I hope the next book will continue to develop the world and the characters so that it becomes its own stand out story.

Rating - 4/5

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