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.