06 September 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Published: 5 June 2012

Pages: 358 

Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: Own library

Synopsis

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.


My Thoughts

I'm not really a reader of fantasy - I don't quite know why, but it just doesn't hold my attention, or I get confused (this is not surprising) and give up, or just get too frustrated with my memory to really enjoy it.

But after hearing Judith and Daisy talk about how amazing it was when I was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, and seeing Daisy 'pitch' it in the American Book Centre, I thought I would give Shadow and Bone a try - after all, what's the worst that could happen?

The first thing I fell in love with, and stayed in love with the whole way through was Alina.  Bardugo takes that horrible 'I'm so beautiful but I don't know it, yet all the boys flock to me' cliche and chucks it right out the window.  There are no long-winded, sappy descriptions of boys that smell like oceans or girls with eyes that sparkle like diamonds shit - Shadow and Bone has characters that are chock full of personality without being cliched, and the romance is incredibly well-done - the characters are friends for life before realising that they have had feelings for each other for a long time and they fit perfectly together.

World-building is something I often struggle with when it comes to fantasy novels.  I seem to have trouble envisioning scenes and places which I can do perfectly fine with contemporary or even dystopians, but Bardugo has written Shadow and Bone in a way that even if you aren't a fantasy fanatic, the imagery is the perfect mixture of unique and familiar.  I also loved the Russian influences - it was enough to be interesting but not overwhelming.

The plot twists and turns and there are a few moments that had me a little :-O because I just didn't see what was coming and when they did it was completely out of the blue for me.  The final thing that made this book so awesome for me was the ending - although this is the first book in a trilogy and I'm already itching to go straight onto Seige and Storm, it ended in a way that didn't want to make me throw the book across the room - it actually left me feeling quite satisfied because although it's a little cliffhanger-y, it's the perfect type of cliffhanger - there's enough closure to make it ok not to have the next book immediately to hand, but still enough to make me obsess about it.


Even if you don't like fantasy as a rule, this is a book worth breaking rules for.  If you have it on a bookshelf, go get it, now!  And if you haven't, go beg or borrow a copy (I won't say steal because it's illegal, but possibly worth the risk) and read it.  This is a book that is pushed relentlessly by fans because it deserves it.

21 comments:

  1. I think you should read Neil Gaiman. I think you'd enjoy him as a fantasy writer and he's my favorite. I'm giving this book serious thought now after you review.

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    1. I've read two of his books - I loved The Graveyard Book. And I agree, he also writes the kind of fantasy that appeals to me :)

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  2. This one is definitely on my "read once the whole trilogy is out because I hate having to wait to continue the story" list. (Though I'm glad to hear cliffhanger is well-done... SO many of them aren't!)

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    1. Yes I have book two on my shelf but I AM RESISTING!

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  3. YES! I always like it when people love books I love, especially when it's not your genre. I think Bardugo's power is her writing-style and the way she crafted the plot and characters. I'm happy you liked it so much!

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    1. Exactly - it wasn't overwhelming or too detailed - just perfect :)

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  4. Gah! THIS BOOK! It was my favorite last year, and I found the world-building to be the perfect blend, as well. It truly had all the elements for an incredible story. I started Siege & Storm a while ago and put it down because of my mood. I want to give the book a fair shot so I'm waiting until I want to sink my teeth in to some fab fantasy!

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    1. I'm torn between gobbling up book 2 or waiting...but am trying to be stronggggggggggggg.

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  5. I have wanted to read this one for such a long time. I'm so glad that it was enjoyable!

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  6. EEEK! You have no idea how happy I was that you finally read it!

    Though I am a general lover of fantasy, I do tend to have trouble with some of the high fantasy stuff (re: LoTR) because it's so complex and intricate. But what I love about Bardugo's series is that it takes something complex and blends it with the familiar to create this easy-to-follow, magical world. Also, books with a Russian influence are far and few between these days so I have to give Barudgo bonus points for thinking outside the box here!

    Other than the fantastical action and amazing world building, I think the strength of these books lies in her characters. Alina is so spunky and likeable! The Darkling (SWOON) is mysterious and charismatic, a total enigma that you spend all your time trying to figure out. And then there's Mal who is hunky and sweet and a little dumb (because, let's face it, all boys kind of are). I just loved them.

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts about Sturmhond and the gang in book #2!

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    1. See, the complex stuff is what turns me off - I'm pretty impatient when I don't understand what is happening or what the aim of a particular thing is - LoTR would kill me.

      I love me a bit of Russian influence! And I can't wait to meet Sturmhond, I've heard so many awesome things already!

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  7. I absolutely adored this book! I fell in love with Alina and the whole world of Ravka with its slavic feel.

    Great review! Can't wait to hear what you think of book 2!

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    1. It's such a great book, one of my favourites this year for sure!

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  8. I've had this book on my bookshelf for a really long time! I hope I find time to read it!

    Great Review!

    -Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

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  9. I'm glad stepping out of your norm paid off for you in this one. Think it might have been a little easier because Shadow and Bone is also somewhat dystopian?

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

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    1. You could be onto something there - although I didn't notice it when I was reading, but maybe it was in my subconcious ;)

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  10. Yes! She really does wonderfully with the horrible "not pretty" cliche. I'm hit or miss with fantasy and fell more in love with this book. Thrilled that you loved it too :)

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  11. I'm so happy you loved it!!! I'm always worried when I recommend a book I loved... Because what if you hadn't loved it?? But now you can just fangirl over it along with me :) Also: go read Siege and Storm! You have to meet Sturmhond! He is AWESOME!

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  12. YAY! See, you can read fantasy! JOIN ME.

    Or, you know, not. But I'm glad you loved this one.

    Interestingly enough, I never really fell in love with Alina. In S&B, I was all about the Darkling, and in S&S it was all Sturmhond. Oh, the joys and sadnesses you have ahead of you.

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