Leigh Bardugo not only delivered but went over and beyond anything I could have ever expected with Shadow and Bone!
Her writing and storytelling had me mesmerized right from the start. There were moments that I found myself holding my breath and had to contain myself from skipping ahead! I could not put this book down and ended up reading it all in one night!
I feel like no matter what I write right now, it won't do this book any justice...
Alina is your average teen girl, really, she's just average. In a world that is ranked by power and beauty, Alina does not fit in anywhere. The only place she ever felt slightly normal was when she was with her childhood best friend, Mal. And now that they're of age and have been enlisted to do their jobs, they have been growing apart... until one day, their regiments are deployed to go through The Fold - a place that no one ever wants to go through - and they are attacked and Mal is seriously injured which causes Alina to unleash her unknown powers to stop it. A power that no on else possess. Which then leads to Alina joining the Royal Court, and must go through training to control her new power. She is thrust into an unknown world, one that she had never thought she would ever be a part of. Even with her power, she feels that she not good enough to be ranked with the beautiful Grisha. And I don't blame her! Everyone always thought of her as average, and she believed it. Wouldn't you have a hard time getting over your past as the 'ugly duckling' that nobody wanted?
Mal... I have to say, in the beginning, I didn't like Mal very much. He started off like a typical teen boy, hanging out with his friends, showing off, doing what guys do. But once he was one-on-one with Alina, we finally got to see his true personality, and he shined. Yes, sounds typical, but in real life this is what people do - we sometimes act a bit differently depending who we are with, and most teens are known to do fall for this... and I forgive Mal. He truly lives up to everything you will expect of him, and more.
There is no denying that The Darkling is a stunning, quick witted and a mysterious guy. Which of course makes him completely irresistible. Even though I had a bad gut feeling about this guy, I fell for him. Hard.
And he broke my heart... and no, I will never forgive him.
This is the place where nightmares are made. Seriously! I had a dream, errr, nightmare about it. The Fold is a stretch of land that has been voided. There is nothing there but complete darkness and for lack of a better word, death. This is where Bardugo's writing and world building just left me with my mouth hanging open, staring out into space, picturing and feeling exactly what it would feel like to be in that place... it gave me the shivers.
If you loved Katsa, Po and Leck from Graceling (by Kristin Cashore), you will also love Alina, Mal and The Darkling. Similar stories, for both are very well written high fantasy books. But so very different in everything else. Shadow and Bone is a must read book!