Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #1) / 1/2☆☆☆

Summary: Paige Mahoney is clairvoyant in 2059 London, where it is illegal to be clairvoyant. When she is kidnapped by unearthly beings and taken to their prison in Oxford, she begins to realize exactly who it is that rules her world, and that she needs to figure out a way to escape.

There was no normal. There never had been. “Normal” and “natural” were the biggest lies we’d ever created.

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Plot

Unpopular opinion/slight rant time. This book fell very flat for me. There was a lot of complicated jargon and a lot of time spent on complicated world building, but it had very little actual depth or development plot-wise or character-wise. It was struggle to get through, but I wanted to finish it because I’d always been curious about it because it’s so popular, but now it just feels like it was a big waste of my time.

I’d known going into it that this book was info-dump heavy, and usually I don’t mind info-dumping so I can be prepared for the action to come, but…it didn’t stop. It was as if the author had written down her guidelines for this world and was copy and pasting them into character’s mouths. If two characters conversed, it wasn’t for character development or relationship building, it was to give us more info.  The main character, Paige, didn’t find things out for herself, she was told, and told, and told. And yet, I couldn’t tell you clearly how the world of this novel works. There was so much, and it was a bit discombobulated, and worst of all it made a story so flat. This book could have been so interesting if it was told differently.

Despite all the world building, I was frustrated with my inability to really work out how to picture the settings in this book. It’s set in London in the year 2059 and things were described as antique and Victorian, yet newer and glossy at times, and I could not reconcile that image. Usually setting doesn’t bug me so much, but perhaps it was the flatness of the overall story that made it so difficult for me to orient myself in the setting. It seemed like a fascinating world with the combination of new and old, but it lacked nuance.

While the word was complicated, beneath all the heavy explanations was a pretty basic story. I felt like this book was trying to make statements about slavery and oppression that were underdeveloped and simplistic and I was not feeling it at all. It was strangely paced with small bursts of action and long winded character interactions and many, many flashbacks that I simply had no interest in because the characters were so underdeveloped. The length of the book made it seem like a lot would happen when not a lot did, and the terminology made it seem complicated when it really didn’t have to be. In in the end this book was just very, very flat for me.

Character

Here is where we get to my main issue. These characters were so FLAT. They had basic personalities but hardly went deeper. I did not care about any of them, and the relationship building between them was nearly nonexistent. I didn’t understand why they cared about each other. Our main girl, Paige, had a case of “insta-sacrifice,” aka she would meet a character, have one info-dumpy interaction, and then would go about – and go out of her way – to risk her life for them. I felt nothing in the friendships she made with anyone, nor the friendships she already had.

Paige was a bland, basic mix of hatred and compassion in a classic “chosen one” package. The logic behind some of her  motives was so lacking in nuance I literally rolled my eyes at the pages. Most of all, I just didn’t feel like there was much to her. She was there to gather the information and perform the actions and feel the feelings the author wanted her to, but she had no real depth. Mostly she was just plain boring.

As for Warden/Arcturus, who Paige was assigned to as prisoner…..he made me so uncomfortable. He’s your classic “unearthly gorgeous” dominant, troubled male lead with a cause, and I know the book wanted me to sympathize with him as I got to know him better, but…he only made me feel more uncomfortable. I was not into the slave/master, student/teacher, whatever he and Paige wanted to call it, thing that was going on between them. However, if you like the captive romance narrative, this book could be up your alley. I will say that Warden was the most well developed character, and because of that his and Paige’s relationship was also the most well developed. But because I wasn’t a fan of the dynamic between them, I just didn’t feel it. I think my lack of interest in their relationship came from a relative flatness of character overall, and because it was a convention I just am not a fan of, to be fair.

Writing

I felt like the writing of this book was just on the cusp of being good, stylistic-wise. It was just a little too simple, a little too lacking in nuanced description, and, for the most part, just a lot too flat. It took me a good 30 or 40 pages into the book to realize that it wasn’t going to be as deep as it seemed. And when a writing style is flat, everything is flat, unfortunately.

Was I satisfied?

No. I’m glad I finally gave it a try so I’m don’t have to wonder what it’s about anymore, but in the end my experience with it felt like a huge waste of time. Everything was so FLAT. No sequels for me.

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13 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon | Fantasy Sources: Art, Gifts, Ideas, Article Resources, News

  2. What a pity! Great review, it’s nice to see different opinions! I have received this book recently, now I’m a bit less enthusiastic to read it. I had heard great things before… let’s see, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen so much raving about this book, but I’ve always been too afraid to pick it up. It sounds like something I would like, but it also sounds very serious and dry. For some reason, I also didn’t realize it was YA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This book has such interesting concepts and a fascinating world, so I do understand why people like it. And to be fair, I’m not hugely into Sci fi or futuristic stories, so if you’re really into those it still may be worth giving a try, especially if you enjoy world building, but my biggest issue was character- it felt like the author assumed we cared about them instead of making us care about them, so not much time was spent on building relationships between them. And since that’s my favorite thing about books, it’s easily the reason this book was a thumbs down for me. Still, it’s not one of those books that I’m mystified by its popularity!

      I did hesitate over labeling it YA. The main character is 19 and I suppose nothing that happens is very kiddish, and now that I think of it more, it’s probably the romance that would keep it off the YA shelf. Still, I wouldn’t feel surprised if I saw it on a YA or non-YA shelf at a bookstore. It needs some extra push to make it feel a little less teen for me. If I read the sequels I’d have a clearer idea, but it’s probably just that I’ve seen it reviewed by so many people who read YA that I feel biased to label it that way.

      Like

      • See, the idea that she didn’t put a lot of effort into the character building and relationship building is already a negative for me. World building is good, and even important, but I’m a character driven reader and without that even a book with the best world building would fall flat for me. I think I’ll just trust my gut. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: August Wrap Up | Lost: Purple Quill

  5. Pingback: Unique Blogger Award | Naty's Bookshelf

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