Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Description:
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.

My Review: 
This is my attention span:
I'm also highly attracted to bright, shiny objects like Goodreads ads. Shadow and Bone is one of those books I pretty much decided to read because the ad for this book kept appearing on Goodreads- over and over and over. I think that this was one of the most hyped/anticipated books this year. So, I went into it expecting great things.....

So, I was disappointed. Very disappointed because it just wasn't that interesting in the beginning. It was a book I would read a few pages and put to the side for another book- it just didn't grab me at all. But, about 20% of the way through, things got interesting. (It's the point of the first battle) At this point, I get why so many people fell in love with this book. It has a medieval Russian fantasy world kind of feel- a lot of the names are in Russian (I'm guessing). So, it feels like you're in a Russian folk tale. Also, the book explores something in great detail in a way that's different for a YA novel- it explores the concept of power. Power in government, the way power corrupts. How having an absolute monarch can lead to stagnation which in turn can lead people to follow any kind of demagogue because people yearn for change so badly that they'll accept any change. Good or bad. (Is this some kind of allusion to the Russian Revolution?) So, you see, it's  a definite cut above most YA books in this sense.

Hmm...when someone says, "in this sense", they're usually qualifying the statement. Which I am, I guess. I'm saying that there is symbolism, allusions, allegories in this novel which does set it apart from run of the mill YA novels. So, in what way isn't it "a cut above"? It's one of those books that has a lot of technical things right: good characters, understandable motivations, etc. But despite all of that, I just didn't fall in love.  Something was missing. Don't know what. I know people who love Twilight- they think it's poorly written, but to them the book has that "magic". I do get that- that some books are just magical. Usually it's because they do a lot of things right and have that extra sprinkling of fairy dust that makes the characters live off the page and take residence in our brains. This book just isn't magic to me. Yes, I'll read the next book in the series. Yes, I'll enjoy it if it's as good as this one. But, I finished reading this book about a week ago and completely forgot I read it until I saw this partially finished review in my Blogger Post page. Sorry, these characters just don't live in my head, but I hope that you read it and it's magic for you.

Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre rating: 4 magic wands
Leigh Bardugo's Website


  1. I loved your honest review. I haven't read this one yet- but now I have a better idea what to expect. I am a big Simpsons fan- so your videoclip hit home and I am always joking that I love shiny objects. :) I am now following your lovely blog. Thanks for stopping by mine this week. :)


    1. Jess, are you "mature" enough to be a child of the 80's like me? I loved The Simpsons from when it first appeared as a short in The Tracy Ullman Show. Anyone else remember that show? I think Tracy Ullman got famous- or at least this is how I heard of her- because MTV in the olden days when they played music had a brief phase when they needed videos. Because not many were being made, so they played all kinds of songs that had videos. Including some videos from funny women like Ullman ("They Don't Know") and Julie Brown ("Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun".

  2. This book has been on my TBR list for ages. I still think I will give it a try because I love the Russian influence, but I admit to be a bit disappointed by the review. I so want to find something really new and fresh to fall in love with. sigh. YA books, which I read a lot of, have become so predictable.

    1. I think a lot of the elements of a potentially "magical" book are there. Who know why some people adore one thing and others are "meh"? I hope you read it and love it.

  3. I'm following you back via GFC- saw your post on the Book Blogs group.

  4. Oh, that is a bummer you didn't feel it with this book! I started it just today (I'm only like, 5 pages in and hope to read more tonight) but I have been REALLY anticipating this book for months. Hopefully your next read was a better fit:)


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