Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: June 5th 2012
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
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. – Goodreads.
One thing I really did like about Shadow and Bone was the Russian influence. I know that aspect is pretty controversial but I don’t think I am as affected by the use of it because I am not Russian, nor am I a Russian expert – though, how cool would that be?? – so the same can’t be said for others and I’m not saying that it is okay. It actually proved to be quite educational for me. I learnt what a kefta is, and that kvas is an alcoholic drink. I hope that comes up during family gatherings at some point so I can pipe up what they are and look clever…
Don’t look at me like that. I have prodigy cousins and siblings. You’d do the same.
Another common problem people have with this book is that they think the world is too underdeveloped. I didn’t find this to be a problem. I read this on my Kindle so didn’t even have a map easy to hand, yet I found that I could visualise where things were and from the Russian influence and googling of some Russian words, I could see what the world would look like.
As for the plot, I found it quite simple. It is another Chosen One cliche – Alina finds out she has the one power no other Grisha has and is taken back to the Palace to be trained. It’s not new, but not a lot is these days, and I think Bardugo made it her own. That being said, nothing took me by that much of a surprise. I could see where the plot was going all the way through but it didn’t bother me that much because that was the way the plot should have gone and I would have been problematic if it hadn’t.
The pacing was a tiny issue for me. It may be that I was having a pretty tough week and so needed something extremely fast-paced to keep my mind from wandering but I found it to be quite slow at the beginning and while she was being trained. It definitely picked up after the midpoint through to the end and it took me half the time to read.
I think Robert Downey Jr’s face sums it up. She annoyed me. It wasn’t how emotional she was because I understood that, and I understood her feeling inferior to the other Grisha, but I didn’t expect her to be so obsessed with her appearance. In fact, every female character was obsessed with their appearance and their desperation to be beautiful. That was why I couldn’t connect with Genya either. I found her rude and completely shallow.
Alina did pick up towards the end and I began to respect her a little more. I’m hoping in the next two books that I’ll grow to love her.
Another unpopular opinion, I really liked Mal. I don’t understand why most people don’t! He was so resourceful and what he said to Alina at the Palace, I feel was justified and would probably have been forgiven if it had been Alina who had said them. I think one of the main reasons people don’t like him is because he is competing with the Darkling, who people seem to love.
Me? Uhh, I don’t dislike him. I definitely don’t love him. I can’t make a formed judgement on him yet as I feel the next two books will reveal more about his character and motives. I’m excited to see what Bardugo does with him because he can definitely be a great villain.
From what I have heard, the next two books are supposed to be much better than this one so let’s all hope there’s a five star lurking ahead!
Thanks for reading!
Have an amazing day,