Shadow and Bone is a solid, high fantasy read with a lot of terms and world building (or lack of) to get used to. I personally really enjoyed it, and I think fantasy fans will really like it. I’ll let you know when I will be getting into spoilers.
I don’t like giving long summaries in my reviews, but I’ll do it this time because I had no background about it until I read it and I was confused for a long time. Basically, this book is set in a world where there are Grisha, who are people who have special powers and luxuries, and then there are normal humans. Obviously, the Grisha live in better conditions than the humans and have more advantages.
The main character, Alina, lives with humans, and does not know a thing about Grisha, until one day, her dormant powers are unleashed and she is taken to live and train with the Darkling since she is special. I know based on this summary it sounds like a typical YA book, but although it follows that scheme at first, it really is unique and gets better as you read on.
The only complaint I have for this book is that I felt that there was no world building and too much information was thrown at you at once, expecting you to understand everything. I understand that Bardugo chose to write this way to make it more intriguing, but without the world building, I was confused for the first 100 pages and could not get used to the world.
And not only was there no world building, but there were. So. Many. Terms! You can not, for the life of me, expect me to remember and understand all of these words! I must be really stupid, because I can not tell the difference of corporalki andetherealki and oprichniki and all the other foreign terms. Can some one please explain to me the distinct classes of Grisha? Because I still don’t understand them.
Anyways, no-world-building aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this first book and I can’t wait to dive into the sequels! (Which I will be doing very soon) I will now be getting into spoilers. If you have not yet read this book, please leave.
Okay. First I’d like to discuss the characters. In the beginning, I thought Alina was kind of annoying–she sounded like the typical YA protagonist like this: “Oh, I love him but he doesn’t love me back,” and “Oh, I’m so plain I will never look pretty,” or “Oh, he actually does love me! But now I am infatuated with Mr. Evil so sorry,” Do you see what I am saying? I mean, she wasn’t thatannoying, but still. And she did get better by the end!
Now let’s move on to the love triangle. Honestly? I don’t know who I like better. Usually I’m all for the bad boy, but the Darkling really pushed it for me at the end, when he killed the Stag and also when he didn’t care for any of his people while expanding the Fold. I kept swaying from Mal to the Darkling to Mal. At this point, I like Mal better, because the Darkling was just a little too evil, but this might be temporary.
I thought that the Darkling and Alina’s relationship was kind of like Warner and Juliette from Shatter Me except I don’t think Warner is as evil as the Darkling. Anyways, my loyalties may shift anytime. Right now I’m Team Mal, but later I might be Team Darkling.
Probably my favorite character in this book was Genya. I just thought she was the perfect friend for Alina. She was beautiful and she knew it, but she wasn’t stuckup. I just really liked her character and I hope we can see more of her in book two! About Genya: I am confused. I feel so stupid. At the end, when she said the King was sick, I understood she did something for him to be sick, but how (without spoilers from the other books) did she help? Did she help the Darkling, or not?
As for the plot, I don’t really have anything to say about it–it was just how I like my fantasy plots. Again, the world building was missing, but that aside, it was fast paced and really enjoyable to read. Of course I knew the Darkling was planning something more evil, so I wasn’t shocked when Baghra revealed that secret, but I’m interested to see how this series progresses.
Overall, I thought this was what a YA fantasy should strive for: fast paced, intriguing, the romance was there but not too overwhelming. (Again, besides the lack of world building.) In the next two books I hope to learn more of the Darkling’s character and understand the world better. I’m really happy with how I enjoyed this book! 🙂
Here are two pictures I took with it and posted on my Instagram:
What did you think of this book? Let me know!
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