Series: The Grisha #1
Also in this series: Siege and Storm
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Monsters
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.
We’re blown away by the awesome.
Thoughts on Shadow and Bone
There was a lot of hype of around Shadow and Bone this summer. A LOT. When Kelly had the chance to go to a signing with Leigh Bardugo, I jumped at the chance to get my own copy (and get it signed). Naturally, we decided to read it together after All Series, All Summer was over. And… LOVE! FLAILY LOVE! (This means we really liked it.) Shadow and Bone will likely appeal to both historical fantasy and high fantasy fans.
Kelly: I am just… blown away by the awesome here. From the world building (OMG! So wonderfully imagined!) to the characters (Alina! Mal!) to the shadowy goings on (who can you trust?)… I am smitten.
Amanda: I picked this book up on a Saturday afternoon and had trouble putting it down until I finished, for all the reasons you mentioned. It’s hard to even pick where to start because there is so much awesome to choose from. But let’s start with the world. The world is really very complex. It took me quite a while to situate myself in the world, but a part of me liked not knowing everything, and learning about the Grisha along with Alina. And, as someone who loves a little historical fiction, the nod to Tsarist Russia just made the world that much more intriguing.
Kelly: For me, the world felt oddly brittle. Like, the way of life that Alina and the others knew was about to fall apart. The Darkling talks about this. He tells Alina that the Grisha aren’t going to fit into the new world. The thing that got me was that she never really fit into the world anyway. I liked that she was seen as the salvation of their nation and yet she’s been an outsider all her life.
Amanda: Yes, brittle. Fragile, almost. It was a carefully constructed world that only needed one thing (person?) to send it crumbling down. Underneath the surface–beyond the narrative that we’re given–I felt other players shifting and trying to gain power. In most monarchies, everyone is vying for power, and back-stabbing is the norm. There was that here. And yet, there was also much, much more. Alina is a typical YA heroine in many aspects (hello, only one possessing the power to save the nation and being caught between two men), but she was also so uniquely written that those things don’t even matter. Heck, I even enjoyed the love triangle as much as I hated it.
Kelly: Talking about back-stabbing… whoa. Alina seems to feel the bite of betrayal often. Some of it isn’t traditional betrayal (such as when she and Mal find themselves growing apart after years of being the only one the other had) but every one stings. There came a point at the end where I was staring at the book all wide-eyed and crazed, thinking “No. Just… how can this be happening?” This book made me feel everything that was happening to Alina. Her exhaustion, her frustration, her anger, her loneliness, her fear that she wasn’t good enough to do the things that everyone believed she could do. It was exhilarating.
Amanda: Oh. My. Word. I loved Mal (especially at the end of the book). Funny how much we come to love him when we actually don’t see much of him. But, I think we will find out more about him in the next book. (Seriously, is it out yet? I want it now.) And Alina goes through so much growth in this book. She has to discover who she is, what she is capable of, and what her limitations are. And, perhaps most important, Alina has to decide who her enemies are. Because you’re right–she does seem to feel betrayal often. She is a pawn in the game, and this–whether Alina realizes it or not–is what she struggles with throughout the book.
Kelly: Yes. Her growth is phenomenal. I think that the moment she embraced her ability was the moment that she really spread her wings. The trust issue… yeah. *I* didn’t know who to trust as I was reading this. She’s given information at one point that causes her to make a pivotal decision and I kept waffling on whether the person giving it to her was telling her the truth or whether her inexperience with the ways of the Grisha was being used against her. It was masterfully done. There are so many twists and turns in this story that part of me still isn’t convinced she knows everything she needs to know.
Amanda: Considering two more books are in the works, I feel pretty safe saying that we definitely do not have the full story. In some sense, there are too many players and too much going on for Alina to know everything she *needs* to know. She gets filtered bits of information that she’s pieced together to somehow make a stand. But her story is far, far from being over. And I like this. I like it a lot.
Kelly: How long do we have to wait for book 2? I don’t know how long I’ll be able to last without knowing more!
Amanda: If we don’t get book 2 tomorrow, then the wait is too long. That’s about the only wait that is bearable for me. (Sadly, Goodreads only has the year 2013 listed. I’m hoping for early 2013.)
Kelly: *weeps silently inside*