Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Series: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Publisher: Henry Hold and Co.
Publishing Date: June 5th, 2012
Pages: 368
Summary: 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.

Rating: 3.5 stars

So, this started out really well. Really, I liked it... until I didn't.

Shadow and Bone is about Ravka, a country at war. There's a mysterious "fold" that threatens to engulf everyone in endless darkness, magical powers, soldiers, kings, intrigues and a heroine in the middle of it all who's supposed to save the world.

I think the fantasy aspect was well done, if not particularly original. The Grisha is one of the King's armies, composed of people with magical ability. You have people who can throw fire, people who can manipulate water, some can reshape glass and so on. I found the Shadow Fold passages to be very confusing, though, but maybe that's just me. It wasn't described properly and I couldn't visualize what Alina was talking about so I'm still confused as to how the whole thing works.

Alina is a strong narrator who, despite her short comings, doesn't spend her time drowning in a pit of despair and self-deprecation, and I found that refreshing. She's likable, and her voice is honest and touching and makes you feel her loneliness, her homesickness and her yearning to belong.

I also found Mal to be a remarkably realistic protagonist. None of the usual embellished, love-sick puppy with a side of whiny. He's a boy. He doesn't talk about his feelings or how (this isn't really a spoiler, but just in case you don't want to know anything about potential love interests, it's tagged as such)


All in all, this was a nice read, and the whole make-over/new home/new powers aspect was pretty fun, if a bit cliché (especially Alina's relationships with other Grisha females. They were either shallow or evil. Come on now). But to me, the main issue was... Depth, I guess? As I've said, it's nice and fun, but doesn't really make you think, make you ache, it lacks a more sophisticated quality you can find in Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock or Laini Taylor's Lips Touch. After a while I started waiting for this little something extra, that little je ne sais quoi that turns an average fantasy book into a good one. But it never came.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

4 comments:

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Laura BurgandyIce said...

Lol. I have to laugh. I agree with "shallow" - I assumed it was b/c I'd heard so many good reviews that I had too high expectations. As for the Darkling... it seemed to me that he possessed that dynamic "I'm so awesome" vibe so EVERYONE believed it, including Alina. Her romantic interest was based on awe which crumbled quickly. I liked all that. It's like Mr. Popular looked at her and she swooned until his real character was revealed. Good point about the other women in the story. Overall, I think I liked the story better, but I really like your review.

Shane Morgan said...

Good review. I'd like to give this one a try :)

new follower!

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