Review: Shadow & Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date ~ June 5, 2012
Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers ~ Macmillan
ISBN13: 9780805094596
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley

Goodreads Synopsis:
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 completely makes my day when I discover that there are new fantasy YA books coming out - and then I heard everyone one raving about how amazing Shadow and Bone is, so I had extraordinarily high expectations when I read Leigh Bardugo's debut, Shadow and Bone. And here's the thing: I didn't think it was as awesome as I had hoped, but I think I was also expecting the second coming.
While it's not that, it is an particularly noteworthy new release and one of the strongest debuts I've read in a long time. Plus, it features a strikingly rich and incredible fantasy setting unlike other books I've read within the genre.

  1. A GREAT fantasy setting:
    You can kinda pick this up from the cover, but Shadow and Bone features a distinctly Russian influence for its setting - which is pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. You can really tell that Leigh drew some of her inspiration from it, which lends to this sort of magical setting that already exists within the book. And it keeps the characters and place just unfamiliar enough for those of us who aren't familiar with Russian language or names.
  2. Dark, sexy villainry:
    I really love it when an author can come up with a really GREAT villain; someone that you both sort of admire and despise, in a twisted sort of way. It's a complex relationship, and I think that's why it's so hard to do. So I treasure these rarities whenever I can find them- but I love it when a villain never seems quite ALL bad or totally evil (kinda like Darth Vader. Completely evil, but we still love him for some reason). Leigh is a master at this. And this is the kind of villain that you can develop a book crush on, easily.
  3. Childhood best friends:
    I'm a sucker for these relationships; I love it when two friends grow up together, and then something happens that tries to keep them apart. It's agonizing! But I always find that I feel such a deeper, stronger connection to the characters and I typically end up more emotionally invested in their story, because of their shared history. Mal and Alina are just too adorable; they fight like an old married couple (which sounds better than brother and sister).
  4. A plot to care about:
    I love that the plot has clear direction and totally owns the story- the plot keeps the story moving along and we don't lose ourselves in side stories or minor characters. Yes, other things are happening- but the focus stays on the Fold and what can be done about that. And the volcra? Yeah, those are FREAKY. I got really excited about this story and it kinda sucks that I'm now twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book ALREADY.
Like I hinted at in the beginning of my review, my only complaint about this one is I think it may be a bit overhyped- yes, I definitely think this is a must-read YA of the year and one of the best books released in 2012. But I still felt like I was expecting TOO much from this one. Perhaps because I love and appreciate a good fantasy so much, I tend to put it up on a pedastal and I'm not sure this one is quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

But it is utterly magical, with kissing scenes to make you swoon, lovely writing that easily showcases Leigh's talent - why can't we have more books like this one?

Purchase Links
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Mel - Thedailyprophecy. said...

Dark, sexy villainry:
that's probably all I have to hear to get excited about a book :') I'm so shallow sometimes, haha. Thanks for sharing this amazing review. It makes me want to read this book, it sounds SO good.

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I'm interested to see how you admire and despise the villain in this one. I'm scared to read this one because of all the hype and yet I am so eager!!

Julie said...

Oh, I ordered this book last night. I've been pre-ordering things less these days because I like to read the sample before deciding if I want the book or not. I can't wait to get this one!

The villain sounds awesome. I like having book crushes on villains. ;D

Great review!

Natalie said...

I've only been seeing raving reviews about this one! Glad you warned me about trying not to get too hyped up about it! Definitely excited to read this one though! Love me some dark, sexy villainy lol!

Lexie said...

YES YES YES to everything in this review. After the incredible cover, awesome synopsis, and nonstop glowing reviews, I was expecting a lot from this. And . . . I got a lot. It was so dark and beautiful and entrancing and AWESOME. Also. The Darkling? Yes.

Christina said...

Brenna, awesome review! I totally agree with you on all points, although I was okay about the hype level, although it probably helps that I don't read reviews pre-my reading. Sometimes I skim the beginning and end, but never the whole thing.

Anyway, I feel like we could have a serious conversation about the villain. Be still my heart!

And Mal! This love triangle totally works.

Jessica @ Books: A true story said...

I was in love with the Russian influences in this book. All of the high fantasy books that I've ever read have been influenced by medieval England and I thought it was genius to have a different culture influence her book. I don't mind books that are over hyped :) As long as they are good! Great review.

bookworm105 said...

This sounds really amazing. Everyone has been praising it so much. Right now i really, really want to read it. Thanks for sharing the trailer - which is really awesome! And great review! =D

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