Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2012, Orion) Borrowed from my local library
“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.”
It took me far too long to jump on the band wagon of this series.
But on the plus side, I don’t have to wait impatiently for the release of the next book, eh?
So, what worked for me?
The Darkling – So, shoot me. He’s serious FAF material right there. And such an interesting character too! I like a ‘bad guy’ that has more than just ‘I’m evil’ working for him. And I did NOT see that coming. *looks pointedly at the end*
World Building – I was in. There was no point at which I thought ‘oh, really?’ I found it so easy to sink into, and I particularly enjoyed the weaponry. It’s reminiscent of our own history as human beings. Guns mucked shit up!
Writing style – Bardugo has such an enviable style. I loved her writing for some of the same reasons I fell in love with Laini Taylor. It’s beautiful, and striking, but not pretentious or over-reaching. You know? It crosses that gap between ‘too teeny’ and ‘poetic adult’ (if such divide really exists, but you get what I mean, right?)
Story – It gives you everything your secret heart desires. And then subverts it in such a wonderful way!
What didn’t work for me?
Alina – I liked her character. But I didn’t ‘love’ her. I feel like she might be a ‘grower’ and it’ll take some time for my to get attached to her. She asks a lot of questions during her internal dialogue and I found myself skipping those end-passages of a chapter when I saw too many of these: ‘?’
Mal – At first I loved him. The whole dynamic between him and Alina was beautifully wrought. But, then he changed. Lols. I dunno, he feels too ‘righteous’. It’s probably just me. This is the girl who fell in love with Lucius Malfoy, after all.
The Darkling – *sobs* This isn’t fair to put this in the ‘what didn’t work for me’ section, because it’s simply a case of badass story writing on the author’s part. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it! I so wanted him to do something crazy (apart from the crazy he’s already involved in). I wanted him to so some sort of sign…
There’s still hope… *prays*
I really, really enjoyed this book. I’m giving it a sucker-punching 4.5 out of 5. I’m not sure why I didn’t give it full marks. Maybe it’s because I haven’t become attached to the protagonist yet. But it’s almost there- a sliver away from perfection.