Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shadow and Bone Review

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Now I know that I'm a little late to get into this series but if you're like me and need some fantasy to fill the spaces between the numerous dystopian novels this could be your book.  To be completely honest I bought Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo because of the hype.  I had seen it's cover on so many blogs it was hard to not pick it up.  I have to say that I'm happy I gave into the urge to buy this book.  While it was this book will probably not be on one of my reread lists it was certainly good. (Especially considering the fact that it only took me a few days to finish). 

The development of Alina is what sets Bardugo's heroine apart.

At first I was afraid that Bardugo was going to write the same female heroine that I've read over and over in just about every new young adult book ever.  You know the girl that's so sullen and sulky the pages are dripping in the stinky smell of teen angst.  Not to say that there wasn't a fair amount of sulking but what made this different is that Alina changed.  There was a distinct growth in her character by the end of the book.  In my head, at least, her voice changed from the confused and self depreciating teenage girl to something a little stronger.  I hope she becomes more able to see her self worth with the next book.  

I also enjoyed the other characters within the story.  Darkling was an amazingly manipulative character.  The kind of person you know you shouldn't trust yet something inside you says to give him a chance.  He's got the whole tall, dark and handsome thing going on.  Oh and let's not forget his immense power. 

Now there were a few things that I did not particularly like throughout this novel.  For one, it was very similar to Kristen Cashore's, Graceling.  Not to say that there is any plagiarizing here because there isn't but if you are writing in the same market as someone else there is pressure to make it better.  This book just wasn't as good as Graceling, in my opinion.  Katsa is a much better character than Alina and the world of Graceling is more developed than Shadow and Bone.  

And that's the thing. I wish Bardugo had spent more time describing her world.  

I felt like I didn't really know anything about it other than the dark shadow fold.  Just because you have a map at the beginning of your book does not mean that you don't have to enlighten the reader a little bit on the politics and geography of your world.  Fantasy is a genre built on worlds.  Sure you can have deep, impeccably flawed and relatable characters written into intriguingly twisting plots but without the world motives are lost and there are no rules.  Bardugo let her world slide away and that, for me, is the worst mistake in fantasy because fantasy world stick with the reader.  We might forget characters names or subtle plot lines but we never forget the truly magnificent worlds.  I didn't want to be apart of Bardugo's world because I didn't feel like it was much different from my own. 

So should you give Shadow and Bone a try?  Yes I think you should.  It might not be your favorite reading experience and there are many flaws in the writing but this book definitely captivated me.  I will be reading the next book in the series as soon as I get my hands on it in hopes for an even more fantastic experience. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why Veronica Roth is Dauntless

Divergent (Divergent, #1)  Insurgent (Divergent, #2)  Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
Its been almost three weeks since I've been home and I have steadily been reading through my boredom as best as I can.  One of the books I decided to catch up on was Veronica Roth's, Allegiant.  Now I'm not going to do a traditional review because let's face it there are plenty of amazing reviews already out there.  Rather I am going to talk about why this series has shown Veronica Roth is a dauntless writer.  This being said, there are going to be major spoilers on this page so if you haven't read any of her books and plan on doing so turn away now.

I repeat get off this page now!

Okay now that you've been sufficiently warned I'm going to continue onward by saying that Veronica Roth is a bad ass writer.  Her series is well written and her characters and relationships are about as realistic as it gets.  

The first reason I wanted to post this was after finishing Allegiant I was completely stunned.  She killed off her heroine.  Like bang dead!  Authors find it difficult to kill off characters to begin with, let alone kill of the one person that they have placed at the forefront of their story (unless, of course, you are George R.R. Martin).  However hard it was to kill of Tris, though, I commend Roth on her ability to finish her character's journey.  She completed the character development of Tris fully and thus created on of the most whole and realistic characters I have read.  Sure Roth may have been able to get around killing off Tris but would that have made her character truly whole?  Maybe, maybe not, but I think that in the end Roth did the right thing even though it was truly heartbreaking to read the last few chapters of the book. 

It is strange when a character that you liked so much dies.  You say to yourself 'no this won't happen.  Someone will save them' and then they die.  It was a little like the way I felt when Ned Stark dies in Game of Thrones (wow there are spoilers all over this post, sorry).  I felt like it wasn't happening and by some miracle someone would save him and everything would be okay.  Instead it made for a more realistic story line because in real life odds are they would die.  I don't like to say that life doesn't have happy endings because great things happen every day but I will say that sometimes things happen for reasons we don't know.  To have a book end the way the Roth ended Allegiant makes it more realistic.  Tris had to die. 

The second reason that Veronica Roth is a beast of a writer is her ability to create realistically imperfect relationships.  I feel like too often books are filled with perfect relationships that always work out when in reality relationships aren't like this.  Tris and Tobias' relationship is filled with flaws.  They lie to each other, they feel betrayed sometimes, they bring huge amounts of baggage that only people who live in a post apocalyptic society could ever imagine, but they make it work.  I love the way that this allows people to connect to characters simply because they can empathize with the relationship on the page.  

The final reason that Veronica Roth is a great writer is that she make statements about life and society.  I believe that every good book makes a statement about something.  I think one of the statements she makes over the course of her series is that people should be judged on their personality and not the groups society places them in.  While it may seem as though she is criticizing the factions I think that she does a good job of highlighting the good in each faction.  She equalizes both the good and bad by having both good and bad characters represent each faction showing that individuality is what makes a person not a label.  

It is obvious that I enjoyed reading and watching the characters evolve as the stories went on and while the last book felt somewhat hard to get through I have immense respect for Roth's ability to create a realistic story.  I look forward to seeing what else she creates in the future.