Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 368 pages
Published: June 5th, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, YA
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.
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Many blogger friends and booktubers have fallen in love with this series and it was only a matter of time before I would pick it up and read it. On a bargain sale I was able to snatch up the first book and quickly get started on it, with my summer vacation approaching. My bar of expectations was super high for this book, all things considered, and I was basically expecting this book to be the fast-paced fantasy read that everyone was talking about, in the level of Throne of Glass. But let's jump into the review before I give too much away.
The book follows Alina, an orphaned teenage girl who's only grown up beside her best friend Mal. The two of them are inseparable and Alina knows she has more than just friendly feelings for him. It's obvious because she gets jealous every time a gorgeous Grisha dwells on Mal's face for too long. It's not until their group is attacked by hungry volcra does Alina discover her true and untapped power inside of her-- she is a Sun Summoner, one that could bring light to dark days and destroy the Shadow Fold forever. But with this great power, she's got a lot of people out for her head or to control her. You never know who you could trust with that kind of power even if you think you know.
Overall, this plot reminded me of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and some version of Rebel Belle remix by Rachel Hawkins. It just wasn't so unoriginal and awkward at times, but it was still a great story. I think the way Leigh Bardugo started the book was an interesting take and decided to infused some tones and elements of true friendship and romance before things got too serious.
You'll like this book if you're a fast-paced reader that wants your plot to get straight to the point right away. I can recall that being one of my favorite parts-- that there was always action at every corner. But in all honesty, this book just didn't live up to all its hype and didn't impress me much (and it doesn't take much to impress me, at all).
I have mixed thoughts on Alina. It was either I loved her or I really didn't at some parts of the book. She was a bit of a whiner, but then again I could definitely see her brave and tenacious characteristics sticking out on the sides. I didn't think of Alina as a strong character, but more of a weak one with not much of a development, but since this is a three book series, there is no doubt in my mind that the author will try to change Alina's mannerisms.
I felt that in this certain book, the protagonist was the most interesting character. The Darkling was our protagonist and I felt like he was so wonderfully crafted. Devious, controlling, manipulative-- these are all the traits I look for in an enthralling character. And he did stir up some heavy emotions. I really really enjoyed his place in the book.
No slut-shaming here but if my crush that I'd grew alongside by was at home while I was living in a palace, I wouldn't kiss the hottest guy there like. Like c'mon Alina, seriously? Did you really just kiss him? The romance in here was weak, to say the least, but I do like myself a juicy love triangle between two conflicting characters.
Alina went back and forth between Mal and the Darkling, and I kind of hated that! Romance does not get serious in this book but it is something that stirs up the conflict. My words and thoughts for this book are just really sparse and I find that I can't have a full length discussion about it. Oh wells, I really hope I like the rest of the series!
Going into this series with high expectations was probably not the best way to proceed, and I ended up being disappointed since it wasn't as fantastic as most readers have claimed. I will be continuing with the series as I've already purchased the second book (good going, Alex!!) and to see if this series gets any better. Thanks for sticking around for this review!