Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Title & Author: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Series Details: Trilogy (Book 1)
Description: “Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. This title has Common Core connections.”
Jumping on the troika…
Okay, yes, I AM late to the Grisha party – 5 years to be exact – but hey, so was Alina, and things worked out for her, right? Right? You guys??
For real though no one tell me. It’s a miracle this series hasn’t been spoiled for me yet, and I intend to keep it that way!
Before I start my review, I truly have to give a shout out to the GR community (where this was originally posted). This is one of those series that I meandered past in bookstores for YEARS never giving it any thought beyond: “Oooh! That’s a cool cover…now where’s the book I came for?” If not for the constant admiration on my feed, I honestly don’t think I ever would have picked this up. And that would have been a shame because I thoroughly enjoyed Bardugo’s debut (I still can’t believe that) novel.
In a page and a half, Bardugo had me smiling along with the girl who “was different and knew it.” The early bond with Alina coupled with my desire to understand the Grisha hierarchy and it’s role within the world of Ravka kept the pages turning. By the time the Darkling hit the scene, I was a goner.
“I doubt you have any idea what you are.”
I cannot describe the effect that such a simple sentence had on my emotions. I was hooked! I craved the answers to the Darkling’s enigmatic statements. His scenes produced the most urgency within my reading and it honestly wasn’t due to fangirling (read: it honestly wasn’t entirely due to fangirling). I felt a lot of his contributions served as underlying foreshadowing for the series, and that intrigued me to no end.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
At face value, sure this is just a swoon worthy passage. However, this quote, to me, reveals the biggest obstacle plaguing Alina and her powers: Mal.
SPOILERY ARGUMENT BELOW:
*If you choose not to read into spoiler territory, I apologize, but my review ends for you here!*
**I know it’s abrupt and I’m sorry, but I have lots of thoughts on the material in the book that you SHOULD NOT READ if you haven’t completed Shadow and Bone. Seriously, stop reading if you don’t want to spoil the book for yourselves. Instead of reading the argument below, read the book instead!! It’s great! Then you can come back and read the end of this review!**
Looking past the fact that Alina’s true powers didn’t emerge until she “abandoned” her feelings for Mal, it’s impossible not to correlate her gifts’ strength to their relationship. Now I know some of y’all will INSTANTLY point out that her first glimpse of power appeared while trying to save Mal. However, that’s simply not true. Her powers were there all along, and she actually suppressed them – even as a child – in order to stay with Mal. She accepted his presence in her life in lieu of her own health and well-being. A fact further illustrated not only by the reveal of how she received the scar branded across her palm, but also by her physical, mental, and emotional transformation after freeing her gift. I bring this to attention, because I believe it’s impossible to read the ending we received and not jump back to the Darkling’s haunting words. Alina is fresh from a rather traumatic incident and there’s no way she walks away from that unchanged. The power will call to her on a different level after such exposure, and I’m certain that’s going to create future conflict. Will Alina continue to sacrifice her true self in order to belong to Mal? Will she forgo her responsibilities and curiosities to please the man that “took so long to see her?” Or will she have a newfound understanding of the Darkling and the life he laid out for her? Saints know I want those answers so onto Siege and Storm I go.