Book Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha # 1)

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Book Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha # 1) by Leigh Bardugo
Copy: Paperback
Number of Pages: 368
Date Published: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Rating: Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

Hello, everyone! I apologize for not being able to write a post about my recent hiatus, but I assure you, it’s nowhere near exciting. At any rate, people have been raving about this series for a long time now, and who am I to disregard such an incessant hype? Let’s talk about Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy, more specifically the first book in the Grisha trilogy – Shadow and Bone.

I liked this book but not so much that I would rate it higher than 3 or 4 stars. Regardless, I think fantasy and series writing are some of the most difficult genres to write because (1) the world you create has to immediately click with your readers, and (2) sustaining their attention has a lot to do with how you write and develop your stories. To put it simply, you need a great deal of creativity and writing magic to pull everything off.

I was thinking all these while I was halfway through Shadow and Bone. Truth is, I decided to read this book on a whim. I thought about reading only one or two chapters, but before I knew it, I was beyond hooked. I finished it in two sittings (well, I had to sleep because I started at about 11 in the evening).

Some thoughts

  1. Bardugo’s writing is so addictive partly because it’s light and easy to understand.
  2. There’s little dilly-dallying involved. The story goes straight into premise and conflict, and it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for straightforward storytelling.
  3. There are a lot of interesting things. I had to google them just so my imaginative functions are brought to full capacity.

It would have been perfect, but it unfortunately slipped into two common mishaps: 

  1. Not enough world building: I understood only bits and pieces of the Grisha world. I sometimes thought the setting was similar to another country like Morocco vs. an entirely new world.
  2. Characterization: Most of the characters are dull with the exception of The Darkling. Do not make me elaborate, or you’ll never hear the end of my fangirling, but really, must the Darkling be so mysterious and hot? Fortunately for LB, more than half of the reading population (*raises hand*) get attached to complex, mind-meddling characters, especially those with killer gorgeous eyes.As for Alina, well, I don’t particularly like her. A little insecurity and weakness is fine, but to read about it again and again is a little heavy on the nerves.

I’d wished to be like her, a beautiful girl in a blue kefta

I examined myself in the mirror. My hair shone. My cheeks held a rosy flush. I still wasn’t pretty, but I couldn’t deny the improvement.


More thoughts

The romance: Oh, I am climbing aboard the Alarkling ship. It electrified me (my sole criterion for supporting a ship). I’m sorry, did you say something about Mal? Nope. Sorry, can’t hear ya.

The atmosphere: It really bugs me. Why is everything so strangely calm? Minus the petty reputation battles (which reminded me of The Selection btw. ugh no), any other possible turmoil was hearsay. I would have liked to see more angst/riot/any form of power struggle not centered in Os Alta. Then again, we still have two more books to look forward to.

The twist: It wasn’t that difficult to figure out, but [it crushed my ship momentarily! Damn you, Bardugo. I was internally struggling for a moment there!]

The Verdict

Although the world building was a little mediocre, the rest of the story is still fascinating. The romance is good, so long as you climb aboard the same ship as yours truly (shameless plugging). The atmosphere is strangely calm for a world with so much conflict, but well we still have two more installments to look forward to.

 

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