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Not My Favorite Fantasy, But It Presents a Compelling World ⇉ Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Ever since I first read Song of the Lioness, I've loved magical worlds with magical academy settings. I didn't get into the Shadow and Bone craze. (To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the original covers. They gave off more of a historical or Gothic vibe than a fantasy kingdom vibe.) However, many people have recommended this book, so I decided to give it a try. While it's not my favorite fantasy book, it is an enjoyable read.


WHAT I LIKED


Interesting world
While the magical kingdom/academy setting isn't anything unique, depending on how it's done, the world can be an interesting place to explore. The Grishaverse is a compelling world that offers much to explore (though it didn't capitalize on the intrigue in the end).

Characters that make you feel things (both good and bad)
While I had some problems with the characters, their interacts drew me into the novel and had me feeling all sorts of emotions. Especially because of all the plot twists that led to new developments in relationships.

Plot twist after plot twist
For the most part, this is a straightforward story. We know the main enemy (or problem), and we know our MC Alina is going to do something about it. However, twist after twist has us questioning who to trust.



WHAT I DISLIKED


Characters lack complexity
The characters fall into boxed stereotypes. While Alina's vague understanding of certain characters has us wondering whether we can really trust certain persons, this lack of understanding also mean that these characters lack sufficient complexity for them to be more than a stereotype without depth.

Simplistic plot (despite the twists)
As I mentioned earlier, this novel is a straightforward story despite all of the twists. While I enjoyed the new revelations being made, they weren't unpredictable revelations. I don't mind a straightforward plot. (Most stories are retellings in one way or another. What makes them unique is how they're told.) However, while it was a solid story, it lacked the familiarity that makes a story great. The familiarity that makes the reader feel like he or she gets the world, and is a part of the world, and is interacting with the world.

A largely unexplored world
There are suggestions of court intrigue, and we learn about the big problem lurking in the kingdom. However, for the most part, the story doesn't capitalize on the intrigue or buildsupon it.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Overall, this is an enjoyable read. I really did feel moved to flip through the pages and find out what will happen to Alina, her loved one(s), and the kingdom. There is a failure to build sufficient intrigue and character complexity to make me feel like the world and characters have come to life, but I do have an interest in reading more of Alina's story. I hope to see more character growth in the books to come.

★★★★☆


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.



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Publication Info
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Published by Square Fish
  • On June 2017
  • Original Pub: June 5, 2012
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 416 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series: The Grishaverse
  1. Shadow and Bone
  2. Siege and Storm
  3. Ruin and Rising
Content 
  • Kissing
  • Making out
  • Violence and death

4 comments on "Not My Favorite Fantasy, But It Presents a Compelling World ⇉ Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo"
  1. This sounds like it is more basic than some of the other books in this genre, but the plot twists may help the reader get past all of that.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, the plot twists are what keep the story interesting. Since it's a debut novel, I'm also more inclined to give grace and keep an eye on how the author's writing develops over her career :)

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  2. I was disappointed that the Darkling was bad. I wanted to see a hero with darkness powers who wasn't the inevitable cackling bad guy. Later on, when I found Black Magic Outlaw, it was so refreshing. Darkness powers ... used for good!

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I was hoping to see more complexity in his character, whether or not he turned out to be the villain in the end. Especially because I was hoping he'd be good!

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