Shadow and Bone has been making big waves in the book blogging community, and I went ahead and bought it to read because I hadn’t heard a single bad thing about it. I’m not quite so gushy about it.
This book is set in Ravka, which has been torn in two by a weird darkness called the Shadow Fold, in which people who enter barely ever make it out alive. On top of that, it’s destroying the land and the people are at war. Amidst it all is Alina Starkov, a scrawny mapmaker traveling with the army. Her regiment gets sent into the Shadow Fold, and while trying to save her friend she unleashes a power that’s been hiding inside her. Realizing that she may be the key to getting rid of the Shadow Fold for good, she’s taken away to train with the Grisha – the magical elite who serve The Darkling, and the King of Ravka. Once she learns to master her new power, she could be the savior the people of Ravka have been waiting for… or she could be their new worst fear.
Sound confusing? It was at first, with all of the made up words and names and stuff. After the first 50 pages or so it all started to make more sense and I was able to get into the story a little bit, and I read this book really quickly. I enjoyed all the Russian-ness of the names and places. I like Alina, although she has some faults. (She’s a little too merciful and righteous for my taste.) I really like her friend / love interest Mal (especially cause it makes me think of Mal from Firefly). Learning about her training and stuff was cool, and I was very torn on what to think of The Darkling at first – he’s very good at switching between good guy and bad guy. There was kind of a lack of secondary characters… she befriended a servant Grisha girl named Genya, but just barely. The only personalities you really get to see are Alina’s, Mal’s, and The Darkling’s. No one else is really memorable.
I didn’t fall in love with this book, and I can’t even say for sure if I’ll read the rest in the trilogy when they come out. While I liked the characters enough that I didn’t want bad things to happen to them, it’s one of those books that seems like the outcome of the last book is kind of a given – girl and boy triumph over evil and live happily ever after together. And while that’s always a good thing and I like happy endings, I just didn’t love the beginning of the trilogy enough to see it all the way to the end.
Sarah Says: 2.5 stars. I’m split right down the middle.