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