Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Age: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy – Romance
Rating: 3/5 Stars
I can see why this might have been a bit more…unique, back in 2012 when it was originally released, and I get why some people really like it, but for me it was kind of meh. I do want to read the rest of the trilogy and I have heard the duology, starting with Six of Crows, is much better, so we’ll see how it goes.
The main problem I had in trying to get through this book was the TV series adapts it so closely, while adding in other elements from different books that make the adaptation just generally better. Even in the show, Alina is a bit of a boring character, and here you spend 358 pages with a character who…doesn’t really do that much? She’s trapped, and helpless at times, but any training she goes through is underlined by her complaints, and when she does ‘master’ her power it feels like a light switch going off – it happens kind of fast.
For those who don’t know the story, Alina is a mapmaker in the army of Ravka, a nation torn in two by the Shadow Fold. She is an orphan, along with her best friend Mal, both refugees, but where Mal has found his calling in the army, Alina still feels she doesn’t belong anywhere. Until an incident on the fold reveals a dormant power, bringing her to the attention of The Darkling, and she is whisked away to the ‘Little Palace’, where Grisha live and train.
The faults I (stressing personally) found with the book aren’t necessarily on the author – it’s more the fact that ten years on, this book doesn’t quite hold up. This type of love triangle has been done to death, Alina feels like so many other similar characters seen before, during and since this book’s publication, and maybe because I’d seen the TV show or because it just is predictable, there wasn’t too much tension throughout the book.
There’s a whole chunk set in the Little Palace, where we learn very little about anything. This part of the book, I found, really dragged. It could have been a good opportunity for some world building (as Alina does read about Grisha history) or even if we could have seen more of Alina learning much in general, but we get a couple of scenes of her learning to train and a couple of scenes of her trying to learn her power – it makes it feel like a really dragged-out montage.
Overall, although I enjoyed the TV show enough to pick up the book, I thought the book itself was middling. It wasn’t bad, and it was a little bit more than okay, as I do think Bardugo has a fairly enjoyable writing style, but it feels like one of the weakest YA fantasies I’ve read for a while.
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Prompt: Shadow and Bone – Book with a film/TV adaption
Progress: 2/24 Completed