Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy #1) / My rating: ★★★★☆

One sentence summary: A dormant power is discovered in teenage orphan Alina Starkov and she is taken for training so that she can help defeat the Shadow Fold, a barren land of darkness and human-eating creatures that separates her war-torn country.

“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Plot: Shadow and Bone is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy, and I really liked it. I don’t know if I’d say it was “amazing” or “incredible,” but it was so easy to get lost in and enjoy, and I just really, really liked it and was always eager to go on. I loved the universe that Bardugo created, in which people with select powers in chemical materials, summoning elements, and healing (or hurting) the body form a group of magical elite called Grisha, which Alina gets caught up in. I was able to get lost in this universe, I was able to believe in it and grow invested in it, which is the most important thing I ask of any fantasy novel. While the twists and turns of the plot never caught me completely off guard, I still thoroughly enjoyed them. This book was dark, but it was a very fun read and I really, really enjoyed it.

Characters: Like the plot, I really liked the characters. The story is told from the first person point of view of Alina, and since she’s “different” from the other Grisha, not having been raised as one, I expected to be grated by an inner monologue of complaints and resistance to a new, foreign, royal life in training (ex. Katniss Everdeen reaction). I was pleasantly surprised, however, when she got caught up in her new life, when she enjoyed trying on dresses and getting beatified and embraced her power instead of rejecting it. I liked Alina, she was brooding at times but she had a sense of humor, she tried to overcome her weaknesses, she was brave and had a temper and I enjoyed reading from her point of view. I also really liked her best friend, Mal, and the relationship between them. My favorite character was Genya, Alina’s sort-of-maid and her first friend in the castle. She was fun and lively with an undercurrent of a dark past that I really look forward to discovering in the next two books. As for the Darkling, leader of Grisha…he’s…intriguing, but I wouldn’t say I was as captured by him as I’ve seen other readers be. Overall, they were fun characters to read, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in the next novels.

Writing: I really enjoyed Bardugo’s writing style. It was pretty, easy and smooth to read, never hard to follow, and told the story well.

Was I satisfied? Yes! It was a great start to a trilogy, and I can’t wait to begin the next book. It was a lot of fun, and I just really, really liked it. I thought it was great.

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