Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Pub Date: May 7, 2013
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
Let me preface this review by reminding you all that Shadow and Bone is a YA fantasy. This in itself means that the book will be similar to 99.9% of other books in this genre. Despite the fact that I completely made up that statistic–I was totally right. There’s nothing new happening here.
A quick summary: Alina and Mal are best friends. They are also orphans. Mal is attractive, likeable, and talented. Alina is skinny, plain, and unremarkable (according to herself). Others describe her as looking tired and sickly. In this world, children are tested to see if they have “talents”. If they test positive for any talents, they are sent to train with the magical elite, also known as the Grisha. Neither Mal nor Alina displayed any magical talents… until years later. An attack at the Shadow Fold nearly kills Mal, and something miraculous saves him. That miraculous thing was Alina, and now she is facing the Darkling and the finest Grisha, unsure of everything. She is plain, unremarkable Alina. She couldn’t possibly save Mal’s life, right? Wrong. She is now a superpower, and the Darkling can’t wait to get her on his side of the war.
An even quicker summary: Alina is a trope with legs. She is one big ball of tropes. Trope-lina. Alina is a plain girl. She has a hot best friend that she is also secretly in love with. She is the only person alive with this particular superpower of hers. The Darkling is also hot. And he needs her. We know how this story goes.
You may notice that I rated this book quite high (4.5 stars, to be exact). So why does it seem like I’m hating on it? I promise you I’m not. I want you to understand that despite all of these normally problematic things, I enjoyed every second of this book. I was invested in this world within minutes.
There was not a single thing that annoyed me about the plot, or the writing, or the character development. Maybe they should have annoyed me, but I was enjoying myself too much to care. I flew through the pages faster than a Volcra flies to a Grisha flame in the Fold. So now I just need to know what happens next.
I can’t wait to read the next book! Here’s hoping for a little less tropes and a little more villains. I have a thing for villains.