Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1
Page Count: 369
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Original Publication Date: 2012
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy
Alina Starkov is a nobody. An orphan. A mapmaker in the First Army. A skinny girl who’s not really good at much of anything. But when she’s forced into the Shadow Fold, a stretch of land covered in darkness and crawling with horrible monsters, she unleashes a dormant power to save her closest friend. She’s a Grisha, a magical being, and one of the most powerful at that. She’s sent to the royal court for training, and even with her newfound powers, she still doesn’t fit in. But she has the Darkling’s favor, the Grisha who leads all others. And he claims that Alina is the key to destroying the Fold. But Alina doesn’t feel like a savior—she can barely get ahold of her powers. When she discovers a dark plot that’s been hidden from her, she must decide whether to stay in this lavish, magical place where she’s finally somebody, or run.
I resisted reading this series for so long. I have no idea why. I wanted to pick it up a few months ago when I started hearing more about the Netflix adaptation, but the plot sounded so similar to Red Queen (which I hated) that I just couldn’t bring myself to start it. Well, I changed my mind. And ended up reading the book in a day. And now here I am, totally obsessed and hurrying to read the entire series (plus the Six of Crows books) before the Netflix series is released. I am insane.
Shadow and Bone, if you have somehow not yet heard of it, follows Alina and is told in first-person POV. Alina is the stereotypical “ugly” main character who is clumsy, skinny, and bad at everything she does. She may not be the most interesting female heroine in YA literature, but I liked her well enough. She is best friends with Mal, a very attractive orphan whom she grew up with and with whom she joined the First Army. She totally has a crush on him, but he doesn’t really see her like that. Then, when she saves his life, everything changes for both of them.
Yes, it does sound a little cliché. And I guess, to an extent, it is. It definitely has similar themes and plot points to other popular fantasy stories. But I liked the way Shadow and Bone was written, and I liked the way the story played out. I blew through this book so quickly! I like the Grisha world, and I’m excited to read on and see what happens to the characters. I like Alina and Mal, but I really love the Darkling. I also enjoy love triangles, especially when one of the characters is mysterious and dark and broody… I have a problem.
Did I read this solely because I want to watch the Netflix series? Yes. But did I also really enjoy it and am super excited to keep on reading the series? Yes again. I’m so relieved that I enjoyed this book. I can’t wait to see what happens to these characters! Though it’s a bit like every other YA fantasy out there, I do recommend reading it because it has some unique moments that are worth it. (I totally teared up, guys.) Especially if you liked the premise of books like Red Queen—ordinary girl is actually super powerful, must learn to use her powers to save the world, etc., etc.—but were disappointed because the execution was done poorly. Also, it’s the best way to prepare for the Netflix show! Stay tuned for my review of the next two books.