Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shadow & Bone - Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone book cover
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. (from Goodreads)

I finally had the opportunity to read Shadow and Bone on my long flight to the Philippines, and the first thing I need to say is this: I get why everyone is crazy about this book. Leigh did a wonderful job creating this world and its characters, and telling their story. Though it did admittedly take some time for me to really become invested in it all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Alina, to me, a typical fantasy heroine. She's strong-willed and smart, and is eventually discovered to possess special abilities that mark her as a Sun Summoner. Her story follows the arc of outcast-orphan-who-is-actually-a-special-person-with-awesome-powers. While I've certainly encountered similar arcs in other stories, it didn't take away from my enjoyment at all. There definitely were certain moments she irked me, but I consider them simply growing pains, as I was totally rooting for her to gain control of her abilities. When she finally did, she was simply amazing and I cannot wait to see what she does in the next book.

I loved Mal! The fact that he and Alina have known each other since they were children is an absolute bonus in my favor, and it was lovely to see how their friendship eventually blossomed into something stronger, something more. It admittedly took a long time for it to get there, and Mal was a bit of a jerk at the start, but when it finally clicked, the sparks that flew between them were lovely. I like them together for the moment, and am hoping that they stay that way!

But my favorite character from this book is, without a doubt, the Darkling. He's set up to be a villain, but he's one that I both loathe with all my being... and love with all my being. There are so many despicable things that can be attributed to him, and those things leave no doubt that he has power and a lot of it! There is, however, also evidence of how he can be kind and gracious and easy to like, as we witness during Alina's stay in his palace. I'm not certain of his motives, but I can't wait to see and learn more about him in the next book.

There's no doubt in my mind that Leigh is a wonderful writer, as the writing is absolutely gorgeous. I found it very lyrical and rhythmic, and I reveled in that feeling as I read it. There was a lot of description to be found, but I thought the amount included was enough to whet the appetite of fantasy fans but not overwhelm newer fantasy readers. 

The world, in particular, is really cool. It's inspired by Russian culture, which is a pretty large point in its favor because I feel an overall lack of Russian culture in most YA literature. Though the inspiration is clear to me, it is also apparent that Leigh really makes it her own by adding touches like the grisha and their particular way of life. While there's certainly a lot going on in this world (politics and magic and mayhem!), I never really felt like it was hard to keep track of what was going on.

The story, in the end, is what takes the cake for me. At the beginning, I was a little bit confused by the terms and the names being tossed around. But after getting my bearings, it was so easy to fall into the story and to completely enjoy it. The political intrigue, the magical mayhem, the budding romance - each of these things were woven together so wonderfully that I can't imagine the book without each of these parts.

Though I'm well aware there's more books in the series, I actually think that this could also have been a standalone novel. I am perfectly alright with seeing more of the Darkling however, so I'm glad that Siege and Storm will be coming out this year! Leigh Bardugo has crafted a novel that's easy to read and fall in love with, and I'm certain that the rest of the series will continue to be as appealing as this one is.

42 comments:

  1. I have heard so many good things about this book recently! I had never heard of it before I started blogging and now it's everywhere I look! I'll definitely need to check it out next time I'm at a book shop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You definitely should! It's a really good fantasy novel, and I'm intrigued by the world that Leigh shows us in it. Plus, you know, the Darkling!

      Delete
  2. I always find it funny how for some books I always seem so confused in the beginning, what with the new names and new places, and then by the end I know it all and can't imagine reading a book without all these things! :) I'm glad you liked this one! I liked it, but it didn't seem very memorable to me. I'm not sure if I'll check out the second one, but I can definitely see what people love in it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, really? I liked it (though it wasn't 100% love) and I'm intrigued by the Darkling quite a bit. There's just something interesting about him and his (possible) motives...

      Delete
  3. Great review,Alexa! This was one of my favourite reads of 2012.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oooh, happy you liked it! I read this over the summer and fell in love, too. It's so unique. Awesome review!

    ReplyDelete
  5. YAYYYY I'm so glad you loved it!!! I can't wait for Siege & Storm. I first read Shadow & Bone when I was first dipping into fantasy. I loved how well it was done! Great review!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so excited for Siege & Storm as well. It's definitely one of the books that I'm anticipating for this year FOR SURE.

      Delete
  6. Yay I'm so glad that you read this and enjoyed it! As you already know, it's one of my favorites. I love Alina and Mal together... I hope we even more of their relationship in the next book! Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We better get more Alina & Mal or I'm going to be incredibly sad! But there should also be more of the Darkling since he's pretty cool too.

      Delete
  7. I just finished up with this book, I agree, I think it's perfect for people who want to read that whole epic fantasy genre without reading a series of 500 page novels !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES. I would consider it a great introduction into fantasy for reluctant or new fantasy readers because it's not at all difficult to get into :)

      Delete
  8. I agree w/your review 100%. You basically said everything I'm thinking, and more! Mal and Alina's relationship is so wonderful and I loved watching that progress. And yes, the Darkling is mysterious and so tempting, I can't wait to see more of him. The world-building is fantastic and I'm dying for S&S! :D Great review!

    Vivian
    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm excited for Siege & Storm, especially if it means I get to see more of the Darkling, and to have Alina and Mal all happy in love together ;)

      Delete
  9. Oh how I love this book! I went completely and totally fangirl over it on my blog review. Leigh is the bee's knees. She is so sweet too! Glad you enjoyed it!

    Dana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leigh is one of my favorite authors on Twitter, as she seems so kind and she's always so awesome at interacting with her fans. So glad I liked her book!

      Delete
  10. This sounds like such an awesome story! There seems to be a ton of different elements that work together to create this story and I like that. I wish I could just quit my job and read books all day because my pile of "Need to read ASAP" books is quickly going. It is safe to say I am definitely adding this book to that particular pile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You definitely should! There's certainly a lot going on in this one, but I feel like Leigh masterfully wove every single detail together. I'm really loving the story she came up with!

      Delete
  11. I'm so glad you loved it. Leigh is such an amazing writer. You're totally right, it would have been great as a stand-alone - but you have to keep going! Book 2 is just as incredible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of the reasons I loved it so much! I mean, I'm glad it's part of a series, but I'm also glad that it felt like I got some closure for this book on its own.

      Delete
  12. I just picked up Shadow and Bone this weekend. I can't wait to read it. Higher fantasy books aren't always my first picks, but I've heard so many wonderful things, that I thought I would give it a try. I'm glad you like it. And also that once you got your bearings you were able to follow along easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's actually a pretty easy fantasy to slip into, I think, so I hope you end up enjoying it. It's a pretty fun read!

      Delete
  13. I feel like this could have been a standalone too but I'm glad we'll be getting more stories. I really liked both Mal and the Darkling and want to know a lot more about them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm excited that the story continues... and that it's going to be a totally new one in the next book, but with the same characters from the first book. I need more Darkling in my life!

      Delete
  14. This is a really fantastic review, Alexa. I agree with most of your thoughts. I'm not a fantasy reader, so I had a bit of difficulty getting into it at first, but by the end I was sold. I was all for the Darkling at the beginning, but by the end I was in love with Mal. His relationship with Alina is so cute and heartwarming. I love that they were childhood friends and never stopped caring about each other. It was also really neat to see Alina grow into her powers. I, like you, was frustrated with her in the beginning but I think she shines by the end of the story. I can't wait for Storm and Siege!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love reading fantasy novels, but even I had a difficult time getting into this one initially. But once I did, I just loved it and couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I need to see how Mal and Alina are getting along, AND I need more of the Darkling.

      Delete
  15. Such a great review, hon! I agree that the beginning was a little off and hard to get into, especially some of the terminology. About halfway into the book was when I got into it and the ending was what literally made the book for me as well.

    I also agree that it could be a standalone, but I'm glad it's not. It's time for some SIEGE & STORM! HOLLA!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DEFINITELY. I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens to everyone in SIEGE & STORM!

      Delete
  16. SO much love for Shadow and Bone! It was one of my favourite reads of 2012. And yes, MAL! He was a bit of a jerk at first, but he makes up for it and gah, I just love him! The Darkling is kind of the perfect villain :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Darkling is someone I want to repeatedly punch in the face BUT I'm also oddly fascinated by.

      Delete
  17. Of all the books on my TBR list, I am probably most excited to dive into this one because I've been craving a good fantasy novel lately. And though it might take a bit to get my bearings, I love the intricacies of politics, war and magic that the genre has to offer. It sounds like Shadow & Bone has all that PLUS the addition of a likeable heroine and sexy evil villain.

    I can't wait to meet this Darkling that everyone has been swooning over. He sounds like my kinda guy. So pleased it lives up to your expectations, Alexa, especially because I know you have a penchant for decent fantasy novels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always been a fantasy girl first and foremost, so I can definitely say this is a good one. I hope you enjoy meeting the Darkling - he's a character!

      Delete
  18. I LOVVVVE the Darkling! Bardugo was so crafty in making someone so dark yet so appealing and mysterious all at the same time.

    I agree that this takes some time to get your bearings, but once you do you are HOOKED.

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely loving the Darkling. He's seriously evil (or appears to be), but I love him all the same. I need more of him in my life!

      Delete
  19. Oh the Darkling... be still my heart! I don't even CARE that he's bad; I just like him so much!

    This is really one of my favorite reads from last year. It was so different but still felt familiar, you know? And I loved the Russian culture that was used; created a different setting than we normally see!

    Glad you enjoyed this one and can't wait to read the next chapter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How you feel about the Darkling is EXACTLY how I feel about him too. I love him!

      Delete
  20. I absolutely love The Darkling. I know that he is supposed to be the bad guy, but the sweet side he showed.. I can't believe it was all an act. I can't wait to see how this is going to work out!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES. I need to see if there's a reason for his actions and what's going on and... basically, I just need more of the Darkling!

      Delete
  21. I agree so much with everything you said here and I could write a novel back and forth with you about what you've said. This is really one of the favorites from the books I've read recently. I am not very well-versed in the Russian culture, but I found that I didn't really need to be because Leigh Bardugo did such a great job with her writing. I felt immersed and I appreciated that so much. Also I just LOVED Mal. I loved him so much. I loved The Darkling as a villain, but I think I'm one of the minority in that Mal is my favorite. I just finished Siege and Storm too and it is just as good or perhaps even better. This series is incredible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I BET WE ACTUALLY COULD WRITE NOVELS BACK AND FORTH.

      Oh, I absolutely love Mal (in terms of Alina), no question there. Their story of childhood friendship-turned-romance is totally adorable and wonderful. I was SO HAPPY for them.

      But the Darkling is just so fascinating! I think there's lots more that we have to learn about him, and I can't wait to read more about him in Siege & Storm.

      Delete
  22. I agree - the Darkling is definitely the most interesting character! I'd love to go inside his mind and see what he really thinks. And the ending was fantastic! I do like standalones and this could have been one, but I am excited to see what happens next with these characters. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Alexa!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RIGHT? The Darkling is just too darn INTERESTING. There's got to be something going on in that head of his, and I can't wait until we find out just what that could be!

      Delete

Thanks for dropping by the blog today! I always appreciate reading your comments, and do my best to respond as quickly as I can.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...