Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

If you read YA books and haven’t been living under a rock, this series has been on your radar for a couple of years now. It’s been Tweeted about, quoted, squeed over and highly anticipated. As usual, I put off reading it because I’m wary of hype and worry that books won’t live up to their reputations.

I finally picked this up last month during a bit of a rough time, figuring if it actually was as good as people said it was, it would be the perfect series to start. So it was with no small measure of anticipation that I dove in.

This is the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan who has never stood out. She’s always been a weakling and had to work hard to keep up with those around her. She’s never been special and she’s not beautiful enough to garner attention for her looks. There’s really nothing notable about her. Until there is.

In a life-or-death monster attack while she and her contingent are attempting to cross a pure dark, monster-infested geographical area called “the fold,” she discovers that not only is she special – she’s really special. She has power she’s managed to keep hidden from herself that might just make her one of the most powerful Grisha (magical folk) in the land.

Everything changes for Alina in the moment she first taps into this power, and from this point forward, her life will never be the same. She has the potential to save her world, but she is also now a target because of it. She is soon separated from Mal, the only friend she’s ever had, and thrust into a world where she doesn’t know who to trust or how to control the power coiled within her. And that’s just the beginning.

Unfortunately, this didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. I don’t know if it was the world-building or the character development (possibly a bit of both), but this failed to grab my by the throat. It was good, but it wasn’t great. I struggled to feel invested in Alina’s fate, and I had trouble understanding exactly what her power consisted of or what its potential and limitations were. This also isn’t a genre I typically read, so I had a harder time feeling comfortable in Bardugo’s world because of that as well. By the end of this book I thought it was okay, I was glad I’d given it a shot, but I also didn’t really feel much of a need to dive into the next book.

I do think that this is a story that will appeal more to hard-core YA fantasy fans. It’s got some interesting fantasy elements, and if you’re more interested in these over character development and even plot development, you’ll find a lot to love here. And, as always with a series, who knows how much better it might get as the trilogy continues!

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.Goodreads

Book Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Square Fish
Released: May 7, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 372
Date Read: November 8-9, 2015
Rating: 6/10

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