Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

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A beautiful world filled with magic that that will whisk you away!
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This might be, by far, the hardest review I’ve had to write to date. It will probably be very vague, but the twists and turns that will repeatedly catch you off guard along the way is one of the greatest notes I can make about this book, and so I’d never want to ruin the element of surprise for you. I also believe that no amount of hype or how much I flail over it would adequately give this book the credit it’s due because it’s just too good to put into words. I still can’t wrap my mind around all of it. That being said, let’s get into the review, shall we?

All Alina Starkov’s life, she has remained on the edge of the crowd, never anything particularly special about her that would garner the attention of anyone. Orphaned at an early age because of the Border Wars, she has no real family and finds her only companionship in her best friend and long-time crush, Mal. Fast forward into their teenage years and they’re both serving in the First Army, Alina as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker and soldier since they both failed in their Grisha (more on them later) testing. On a particular mission to pass through the Fold, a barren dessert wasteland filled with darkness and fleshing-eating monsters, their convoy is attacked. Scared out of her mind and desperate to save Mal’s life, Alina unleashes a magnificent power that even she didn’t know she possesses. With the ability to summon sunlight, Alina is swept up by the Grisha and rushed away to the royal court, where they hope to help her learn how to harness this great and rare ability. Alina’s life is about to change in every single way possible, and Shadow and Bone takes you along for the journey.

Leigh Bardugo has created a world unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it played out in my mind like one visually stunning movie scene after the next. I could picture the war-torn country, the palace, the Grisha, the training, and all of the other special elements that aided in perfecting this masterful tale of magic, betrayal, and triumph. It was easy to become immersed in the story and feel very much a part of it, experiencing all the highs and lows and the bumps in between right alongside the characters. This book felt as though it were a giant race to the finish line that will have your heart pounding out of your chest or plummeting down to your stomach or lodged in your throat at the turn of every page. I loved being swept away in it, and this author’s show-and-don’t-tell approach in which she hits all the major senses doesn’t leave you feeling short-changed about any aspect of this story.

I also think one of the biggest testaments to Ms. Bardugo’s writing ability (if I am in any way able to “judge” this) is how carefully crafted all of her characters are in Shadow and Bone. She makes sure they each perform and execut a particular role, thus making each character integral to the story-line. No one felt out of place or was seemingly used as a filler; even the servants in the royal palace had a bit of depth. To say I was blown away would almost be an understatement. Out of all the characters, though, I found myself intrigued by the Darkling the most. He’s the most powerful of the Grisha, an order of elite humans gifted with certain magical abilities that serve the King, and there’s so many layers to him already, but I still like there’s still much left to discover with him, like we’ve only began to barely scratch the surface. (This is only my gut instinct; I could be wrong.) I won’t go into specifics, but I will say that even though Mal had me swooning like crazy, I’m definitely pulling for the dark horse in this race. Call me crazy (I often do myself), but there’s something about this guy that I just can’t seem to shrug off.

Drawbacks: The only fault I could find with this book is the complexity in the hierarchy of the Grisha. Matching the colors of their keftas with their rank within the Grisha system and want powers they possessed were a bit confusing at the beginning of the book. There is a guide at the start that breaks it down for you, but after a while, I found that I didn’t even need to reference it any more.

Verdict: I loved this book, and I know any fantasy fan will love it, too. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the fantasy genre, I still think you should give it a go. I’m also thrilled that I purchased my own copy because this book is gorgeous! From the slip cover, to the map inside of Ravka, to the embellishments at the heading and footing of the pages, it’s a very pretty, artsy presentation. And you know me, I’m all about the pretty!
Good Points
Vivid imagery that will pull you right into the story!
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Leigh Bardugo = Awesome Sauce
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
I love epic fantasy and I also love Russian things. While not set in the real Russia, Shadow and Bone's setting is very Russia-like. The country is Ravka. The fantasy elements are incredibly cool, with the Grisha powers ranking almost Cashore level of original (which is as high as it gets). The Shadow Fold and the volcra, too, are so creepy and fascinating.

Speaking of creepy and fascinating, I have to talk about the Darkling. From the first scene where he appeared, he totally captured me, even though I was pretty sure he was a terrible guy. Seriously, he is like majorly alluring. I don't know whether I should root for him or not, because he's got this whole evil dictator vibe, but also seems like he might be better deep down. I don't usually go for bad boys (although that seems a bit mild for the Darkling), but wow.

Of course, he's not the only man candy in this book. Yes, there is a love triangle, but I declare myself okay with this one, so no worries. The other guy is Mal, Alina's childhood friend, who she's been hopelessly in love with for ages. I have to say that I was pretty much immediately into him as well, mostly because his name is Mal. In my head, I see Malcolm Reynolds, so he has to be awesome.

Alina starts out pretty weak, although still with some serious gumption. It was an utter pleasure watching her grow and discover herself. I also really liked the way she changed as she came into her powers. Bardugo has written such a wonderful metaphor for what subverting your real self does to you. By the end of the book, Alina is a definite heroine.

What I hate about this book is knowing how long I probably have to wait for more! The ending of Shadow and Bone isn't a cliffhanger, but there's still tons that needs to be resolved and waiting is going to be painful. I need to procure a copy of this for myself, and so do you!
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Shadow and Bone: WOW
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Wow.

That's my initial reaction after completing this novel. Like Veronica Roth says, Shadow and Bone is "unlike anything I've ever read." I don't know why, but I couldn't stop myself from crying, shouting in joy, and screaming at the author. I loved the characters, the adventure, and of course the romance. I can't wait to read the next, since I feel like Alina, Mal, and The Darkling will go through a lot of changes throughout the rest of the series.
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Phenomenal Pacing, Plot & Characters!
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Shadow and Bone is...."unlike anything I've ever read" (Veronica Roth). I truly cannot come up with a better way to describe my reading experience - I loved the characters, I was honestly shocked during the plot twists and I found myself completely immersed in the world that Bardugo had created. While reading I felt frustrated, angry, hopeful, heartbroken and days later, I'm still thinking about Shadow and Bone and how it elicited those feelings from me.

A light fantasy, Bardugo manages to give you just enough information to fully capture your attention, without being overwhelming, and is very much of the "show, don't tell" camp. I absolutely loved gleaning new bits of Ravka history or Grisha mythology from casual interactions, rather then in big info-dump sessions or the extremely forward ask-and-tell conversations. I do like my fantasy a little meatier, so I would have enjoyed more history and more mythology, but the amount provided was sufficient to understand Ravka and its inhabitants, while keeping you on the edge of your seat, eager for more! Reading the eBook, I would have also loved a map, so I am beyond thrilled to announce that there will be a map, illustrated by Keith Thompson, included in print editions.

The plot was probably one of the best-paced plots I've encountered in YA. I was so caught up in everything that was happening, so concerned about the characters I had grown to love, that I was completely blind-sided - twice! - by plots twists. I was so enamoured by Shadow and Bone that I wasn't having to stop and think about whether anything made sense so I wasn't being constantly pulled out of the fantasy world Bardugo had so elegantly crafted.

And elegantly craft she did. Everything is described in such vivid imagery that it was impossible for me not to cringe as I watched Alina enter the Shadow Fold to meet with the Volcra waiting within it's impenetrably dark clutches, or to gasp as the Darkling clapped his hands together to produce the tendrils of darkness that consumed all light, or to be completely awed when Alina broke down all of her walls, in order to release her inner brilliance.

I felt passionately about each character in Shadow and Bone - The Darkling, who's cool demeanour was shattered when he let something amuse him, and who ultimately broke my heart and stole my breath away; the embodiment of mysteriousness and allure, he was nothing short of intoxicating. Mal, who's easy-going arrogance was quickly replaced with the hardened composure of someone who has made fatal mistakes, was a refreshing change as a love interest. I cursed him for so quickly over-looking what he could have had with Alina, and rejoiced when he admitted his foolishness. He won my heart with his fearlessness, both in his desire to keep Alina safe and with his attempt to convince her of his true feelings:

"I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I'd catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I'd realize that you weren't there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I've risked my life for you. I've walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I'd do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don't tell me why we don't belong together," he said fiercely.

And Alina. Her character growth was astounding. When you first meet her, she is naive and feeble, convinced of her complete and total averageness. As she stumbled through her many and varied mistakes, it was an absolute pleasure to watch her grow into someone who possessed both self-assured confidence and grace.

Plain and simple, I loved Shadow and Bone. Yes, the fantasy could have been a little heavier, but that's mostly a personal preference. The pacing, plot and characters were all phenomenal and I will wait in anticipation for the sequel!
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Amazing world
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Normally, I'm not much of a high fantasy gal. I love the fantasy genre, but something about high fantasy has always turned me off. Too much of a good thing, maybe? However, after hearing all my blogger friends rave about Shadow and Bone, and loving the synopsis, I knew I had to give it a chance. And I'm so glad that I did.

We are thrust into an entire new world - which I am sometimes a fan of - and Leigh did not disappoint in her world building. Taking place in pseudo-Russia, Shadow and Bone tells the story of Alina, a woman who transforms from a simple map maker to one of the most powerful Grisha encountered. One a suicide mission to cross The Fold (a place devoid of light and filled with monsters that a past Darkling created some hundreds of years ago), Alina's hidden powers come to light (ha!) as she attempts to save Mal from a volca and it is revealed that she is the Sun Summoner. At this point, Alina is brought to the Little Palace for Grisha training to strengthen her power in effort to help the current Darkling destroy The Fold.

I'm very much about all the characters we encounter, especially our main three: Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. Alina's character does a complete 180 within the novel. She starts as this meek map maker who is in love with her childhood friend Mal to a strong and courageous woman who fights for what is right. She is broken from all angles, and one point in the novel she loses all hope, but every time she picks herself up and comes back much stronger than she ever imagined she would be. By the end of the novel, you wouldn't even recognize her as the Alina we first met.

The Darkling is a very intriguing (and yummy) individual. I'm extremely curious to know more about his back story and about him in general. There isn't much known about the Darkling and even less that he is willing to tell. My feelings about Mal fluctuated throughout the novel, but when he comes to Alina's aid, essentially undoing all he has worked for in the process, I warmed up to him immediately. Especially during a certain little scene while they are in the woods. *swoon*

Even the minor characters stick out in my head, though one in particular more than the others. Genya befriends Alina when she first comes to the Little Palace. There is definitely more to her story than she is sharing with Alina and this creates the perfect amount of mystery that makes me want to read The Tailor - if I could freaking figure out where to buy it!

There is a love-triangle, but there isn't. I can't really go into detail about what that specially entails without giving away a spoiler; however, I am fully behind this not love-triangle love-triangle.

There is a weird combination of a lot happening, but not a lot happening either. Even when the plot is moving along slowly, it isn't. Things are happening. Information is being found out. Characters are progressing. Relationships are being formed. Relationships are ending. I flew through the last half because I just had to know what was going to happen! I mean, I kind of had an idea since I know Siege and Storm exists and Ruin and Rising is in the works, but I had to know. Ya know? However, when I got to the ending ("After" to be specific), I felt kind of . . . empty. Like, "that's it? I know there are two more books, but that's it?"

It's something to note that I absolutely love the way she wrote "Before" and "After." I love that Leigh brings things full circle to how Alina and Mal have changed from being orphans to who they are now. I also think it it super adorable that she refers to them as "the boy" and "the girl."

Leigh created an amazing world, filled with vivid descriptions and beautiful writing. I want to know more about this world and these characters. I feel like she has only skimmed the surface of what is going to happen, but in a good "I need more!" way.There are so many questions that I need to answer to and I'm torn. Do I start Siege and Storm now (because I need to know!) or would the wiser course of action be to wait until we're a tad closer to Ruin and Rising's June 3 release date so as not to torture myself? Decisions!
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Sun Summoner Love!
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
This book kept me on the edge of my seat with action and romance. When I thought I figured out the story I was proven wrong as the plot twisted and thickened. I loved the characters of this book as well as the plot and ending. I will continue on with this series because I just have to know WHAT HAPPENS! This book has found a permanent home on my shelf!

My full review is long and goes into more detail. It can be found on my blog:
http://callievamp.blogspot.com/2014/06/shadow-and-bone-by-leigh-bardvgo-book.html
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shadow and bone
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
From what I’ve read, Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel Shadow and Bone is a love-or-hate sort of book. I see very few middle-ground reviews. I requested this from the library because most feedback I read was positive. Strictly speaking, fantasy is a genre I’m most likely to be unimpressed by, so I did come into this book somewhat leery of what I would find.
I did have a few issues with Shadow and Bone, which I expected.

It’s very obvious that the world this novel takes place in was inspired by Russia, which is actually quite awesome. However, when you consider the wealth of detail and tradition that comes with a Russian setting, I felt that Leigh Bardugo didn’t invest as much into her setting as she should have. Superficially, I could see that this took place in some sort of pseudo-Russia, but I found the richness of a truly well developed alternate Russia to be lacking from the text.

The basic framework for Shadow and Bone’s plot is also somewhat lackluster. Plain Jane discovers she’s destined to save the world. Been there, done that times a jillion. Throw in a love triangle and we’re set for a boring and too-typical YA novel.
Those are my complaints, and, when all is said I done, I personally find them to be rather minor ones. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Shadow and Bone, and though I shudder at the thoughts of getting caught up in the waiting game for yet another series completion, I totally plan on continuing with this.

Aside from my complaints about the blandness of Bardugo’s “Russia”, I was hugely impressed with the Grisha themselves. I wouldn’t say their powers are super unique, but the way this author wrote them was fascinating and not at all info-dumpy. It was a very interesting cultural set-up, and I almost wish it had been expanded on a little bit more.

As for the characters, I thought they fit very well into pre-established character types. Alina was the typical YA “kickass” heroine who had a problem with her appearance: brown eyes/brown hair. The villain was pretty standard, too: he’s evil because he wants unlimited power and will stop at nothing to get it. (Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone wrote a YA novel from the villain’s perspective and gave him/her a realistic motive?) Love interest Mal was a nice boy-next-door type; second love interest Darkling was a broody dude with a past. Courtiers are petty and fashion-obsessed. You know, the usual.
But. But it is the way all this was written that sealed the deal for me. I found myself not minding the flat character types because Leigh Bardugo gave them personality. I allowed myself to wave off the vague world building because the author’s way of presenting things was extremely compelling. Even the shallow romance was acceptable, because I could see what Bardugo meant to accomplish, so that even if I don’t think she did it as well as she could have, I was able to visualize the reality she truly intended.

Lots of times, fantasy only pretends to be gripping and action-packed. Yeah, there’s a lot of fighting, but it gets buried beneath philosophical discussions and passages of purple prose. Not so here. Shadow and Bone is narrated in a crisp, effective manner that engages the reader from start to finish. Add in a very compelling twist on an overused premise, and I’ve found myself to be highly impressed with Leigh Bardugo’s debut.
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Aristocrat's Ransom: Shadow and Bone
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
The gifs and full formatting of this review can be read at http://ransom-reads.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/aristocrats-ransom-shadow-and-bone.html

MAJOR SELLING POINTS:
Ya Fantasy

Ravka is one of the best fantasy worlds I have read. I love the influence some cultures from our world have had on the locations in the story. It gives me a better idea of what everything is like. There is also unique magic, using the elements and more unique power sources and abilities. Ravka also has a rich and dark history that we're only just starting to uncover and I look forward to learning more.

Reread for ARC!!

I won an arc of SIEGE AND STORM. I WON AN ARC OF SEIGE AND STORM. That's the main reason I am rereading SHADOW AND BONE. But the fact that I want to reread it (and that my rating of it improved upon rereading) should tell you something...

SWASHBUCKLING:

The start of this story seemed like a nice fantasy. All happy and learning magic, coping with attachments that have been severed, and just generally enjoying the journey and relationship of the characters. Then the twist happened. It comes very quickly, though there are little hints along the way, and I was not expecting it the first time I read SHADOW AND BONE. This was not the happy story I thought it was going to be. And I loved it. The plot sped up and became really interesting as the darkness increased (ahahhahahaha, intended pun if you've read the book)

LINGO:

This is told first person through the main character and I have to say I really enjoyed her voice. It was strangely familiar to me but I can't figure out why. Everything flowed beautifully and reflected the world. There were some nice lines in there and beautiful descriptions. My heart leapt and bled with the main character's, which to me is one of the best things that can happen in a novel.

CREW:
Alina

Alina is my favourite character in SHADOW AND BONE. I connected to her really well, which is good because we're in her head the entire time. She's really interesting, and I loved uncovering the secrets of her power and her world alongside her. Some of the things she had to learn to use her power actually helped me realise a few things about myself when I first read it. And for that I am very grateful.

Mal

Mal is incredibly sweet. Although that's not what I thought the first time round (not entirely anyway). The second reading of SHADOW AND BONE allowed me to look at his character more, and I noticed things I never had. It made me love and appreciate him--and what he meant to Aline--more.

The Darkling

Oh, the Darkling. He has made many a fangirl sigh dreamily. There are scenes I could name, but I won't. You need to experience them yourself. There's just something about a dark mysterious guy with amazing powers, apparently.

SWOONABILITY:

The romance in this is good. With plenty of tension (you have no idea how much). And even though one person in one of my OTPs turned out to be evil, their chemistry still made me ship them in the reread. I am still devastated they turned out evil though. I WANTED THEM TOGETHER. THIS CAUSES MORE PROBLEMS. But not really, cause now I knew the fate of that relationship, I starting backing my other OTP and began to appreciate it more than I did the first time I read SHADOW AND BONE.

SHIPS:
-Alina x Darkling
-Alina x Mal
-The Fold x Burning
-Volcra x NOPE
-The Stag x Antlers
-Good people X Happiness
-Ravka x Peace
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