Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo (2012)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
“…I need book 2. My brain can’t even handle writing a review right now. Awesome. This book is awesome. There are many reasons why but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait because right now all I can think about is reading what happens next.”
–Posted on Goodreads on July 6, 2015
Okay time to expand a bit on the purely emotional burst of my Goodreads review. I’m sure I’ll think of something clever and important to say later on and rewrite this whole silly review but that’s not really what my blog is about. There are thousands of critics out there and they all write perfectly lovely analytical breakdowns. Me? Well I suppose I could do that as well but I prefer to write more emotionally and a bit more based on my gut reactions with a sprinkle of my college degree on top (; Let’s start with characters, shall we? Yes. Let’s.
Okay so I adore the character Alina because she’s not pathetic. Sure she’s weak and not a whole lot to look at but it doesn’t matter! She doesn’t let something as vain and silly as that keep her down. She is perfectly capable of standing up for herself and even though she’s crushing hard on a man she doesn’t let that consume her life. She consistently puts in her two cents and makes sure she is making decisions about her life and whenever she isn’t she is quite surly about it and doesn’t hesitate to let anyone know this. I also appreciate how she is a far more accurate feminist heroine than most “strong female lead characters” that I’ve read or heard about in books. She’s strong, a fighter, not vain, stands up for herself, etc. BUT she also gets giggly when she transforms into a beauty for the ball, she loves wearing dresses and playing dress up, and she is not afraid of love.
Mal is a good character. I like how he doesn’t quite notice Alina because that’s far more realistic, now isn’t it? He’s always got her back and always checks in with her but in a taken-for-granted sort of way. They’re best friends but they’re not the only people in each other’s lives. I like that. It gives him far more dimension than simply being some hottie the protagonist has the tummy-flutters for.
Darkling. So many things could be said about him. Handsome, powerful, charming, deluded,…evil? Perhaps. I think he just desperately wants someone to equal him. Someone to understand him. Someone to end or to at least comprehend his loneliness. He’s deluded of course, I do believe that he is acting with relatively good intentions by following the whole “end justifies the means” philosophy. But I’m not moony enough to think for a moment that that excuses his darkness. I’m very much intrigued by his character and cannot wait to explore it further with the rest of the series. He’s quite complex.
Those are the main main characters and game players in this book and at risk of writing a novel I shall end there with characters. I will say that something that infinitely aids in the intrigue and hook of this book is indeed Bardugo’s complex characters. She has done quite the job of avoiding two-dimensionality. She puts physical descriptions last and psychological clues first. No one is one hundred percent what they seem on the surface and they are constantly changing. Another fabulous tip of my hat to Bardugo!
Her characters (so far) have avoided stagnation! Hurrah! Most authors if they succeed in revealing a deeper element to their characters stops there. It’s like “oh you think he’s just some cute baker? BOOM! Nope! HA! He’s the runaway son of a gluten-hater King!” Yeah…okay that was an odd on-the-fly example. Anyway, basically most authors have a seemingly simple character then they reveal that that character has a secret or something that makes them more than they seemed. But then that’s it! What? Exactly. Bardugo’s characters keep growing and evolving. Not only in their physical (or magical/scientific) abilities but in their character: emotionally, psychologically, etc. Their motives change, their goals change, their attitudes, their plan of attack, their responses all change with each given circumstance, challenge, and development.
Alrighty so now that I’ve blooped out a bucket o’ words I’ll end my review here. Basically. Yes. I quite enjoyed it. I recommend it. I’ve purchased book 2: Siege and Storm. I shall read it. You shall see computer pixels forming words about it.
Purchase here: Shadow and Bone
Similar recommended books: Lichgates by S.M. Boyce, Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, The Waking Land by Callie Bates, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Meet Leigh Bardugo!
Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising).
She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band. Her new book, Six of Crows, arrives fall 2015.