Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
No. of pages: Paperback; 416
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: June 2017 (Originally published Jun. 5, 2012)
Date Read: May 27, 2018
First book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy
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. (Goodreads)
I honestly don’t know how I’ve slept on so many series. It definitely could be the fact that when these were first published, I was beginning my college career, but it’s whatever. This series was by far one of the most interesting, fast-paced, action packed, character/plot twist set of book I’ve ever read. And I loved every minute of it and read them all within 2 days because I couldn’t put them down.
For this review, I’ll just be talking about Shadow and Bone.
This was the second series that I’ve read from Leigh Bardugo and I have such a love for her style of writing and her stories that it’s hard to begin to explain it. Shadow and Bone begins following Alina Starkov who grew up in Ravka as an orphan and where we find her, she’s in the Ravkan army. As this story is the first in the GrishaVerse, we do start to get the introduction to the Grisha and what they do. Which is important because Alina, while trying to save her best friend Mal, uses a power that she didn’t know she had. Alina can summon the sun. This power of light that she exhibits only matches the strength of one other, The Darkling who is over the Grisha Army for the King of Ravka. As Alina begins to learn who she really is and begins to learn how to use her power, she learns the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem; that people aren’t always who they say they are, and that sometimes the hard choices will be hard, but they’ll be right. At the end of the book, Alina begins to learn who she’s really dealing with in The Darkling, and that she’s the only one who can stop him.
One of the things I loved most about this book is Alina. I feel like she’s an actual picture of what a girl can do when she understands that power that she holds within herself. The description that we first get of her is that she’s frail, constantly sick, and lackluster features. She’s not the best at drawing, but she works with a cartographer. Her best friend, who she’s in love with, only pays attention to her when he wants something, but otherwise is too involved with other girls. Once she saves Mal and uses her Sun Summoner power, she’s still the same Alina but she doesn’t know what to do. She never quite fit in with regular people and she still doesn’t fit in with the Grisha because her power rivals the Darkling. As she begins to learn how to use her power and see what she can do, and when she uses it constantly, she looks healthier, she’s able to run and be active, she’s not as sick. Her power is giving her life. Once she learned how to control that power, she was a force to be reckoned with. And I think that’s a really good lesson to learn and I’m so glad that even within this first book, this was explored and that it continues throughout the series.
Another thing I loved was the plot. Everything kept me hooked. There wasn’t any point in time that I was bored or could’ve put the book down and not returned. The great thing about it is how well it was done. The plot was thought out well and structured well. Everything flowed from chapter to chapter (as well as from book to book). I never came to a point where I was confused or where I didn’t know what was happening as I read. I think that sometimes books can get so caught up in action that we lose the story, but we didn’t with this one. It was super well done.