Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers
Series: The Grisha #1
Alina is a simple mapmaker for the King's Army; she's not much to look at and hasn't any real skill, which is a shame for her, since she's in love with her talented, popular best friend. Mal shines, but he's been by her side, ever since they were in the orphanage they called their childhood home. But then she's torn from him and thrust into the world of the Grisha, the magicians who are the elite of the land. They are lorded over by the Darkling, a powerful man who thinks Alina has the ability to change the world.
It's no secret that fantasy is my favorite genre. Knowing that, it's no wonder I was so excited for Shadow and Bone. An epic fantasy with roots in Russian folklore that everyone seemed to love? Yes, please! But alas, Shadow and Bone didn't live up to the hype.
The story starts off slowly, or maybe it was just that I had trouble getting into it. The plot is pretty standard (Regular girl finds out she has miraculous, world-changing power. I don't mind this plot, not at all, but for some reason it bugged me in S and B), but it wasn't even that. Maybe it was that Alina likes to harp on how beautiful everyone is but her. (Although I did appreciate that she isn't the stereotypical hot-but-thinks-she-isn't-YA-heroine.) I'm genuinely uncertain as to what kept me from being fully absorbed by this story for the first 200 pages, and I apologize that I can't give a proper reason. It's important to add that I didn't dislike the book, I just was fully aware that it was missing that *wow* factor.
The idea of the Shadow Fold is incredibly unique and the legend of the Black Heretic is interesting. Despite my disconnect in the beginning of the story, I still enjoyed these parts. Once Alina goes to the castle, I loved learning about the different kinds of Grisha and Grisha theory. Best of all is the Darkling. For that part of the book, his and Alina's relationship reminded me of Fire and Brigan from Fire. Unfortunately, there's a kinda-love-triangle. I'm not sure if it counts if the other guy isn't there for most of the book and the main character stops thinking of him while she's with her current love interest, but it rubbed me the wrong way. While I liked the romance with the Darkling, the fact that she had just had feelings for Mal detracted from it, and made me question whether the relationship was necessary at all.
However, I will say that there were some twists that I did not see coming in any way, shape or form in this book. All of the sudden, Shadow and Bone became a lot more intense and I understood what everyone else saw in it. Alina became stronger, and perhaps a bit darker. She was fine throughout the rest of the book, but she really starts to grow into her own towards the end. There were a few other characters I liked, especially Baghra (I tend to like the crotchety old characters), and the Apparat. He is easily the creepiest character in the book and has so much potential! I want to read Siege and Storm just to see where his character goes!
Will I continue on with this series? In all likelihood, yes. Will Siege and Storm be my number one must-read of 2013? Not at all. Still, I liked Shadow and Bone well enough that I'm interested to see where it will go.
You'll Like This If You Liked: The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Have you read Shadow and Bone? Did it live up to the hype for you?