I like to think of myself as open-minded; even when I do particularly care for a book I give it the benefit of the doubt and reason that it's just my cup of tea. Rarely do I outright hate a book.
With that in mind, I hated, hated, hated, hated, absolutely hated Shadow and Bone! I hated everything about it! And for the life of me I cannot figure why the author is trumpeted as the next big thing, or how this book in innovative by any stretch of the imagination!
Let's start with the characters. First Alana Starkov (technically ought to have been Starkova, but I doubt the author so much as touched a Russian to English dictionary). Good Ford, what a whiny, self-centered little...I probably shouldn't curse. I'm sorry, but she can't think one sentence, on measly little sentence without whining about her imperfections, or gushing about her beloved Mal, or generally not giving a damn about anyone but her own selfish needs. Actually, no, she was perfectly willing to toss away her talents to be with her beloved Mal. Bottom Line: Alana Starkov = Mary Sue
Now, Mal and the Darkling. Mal is completely one demential with not personality beyond being Alana's perfect love interest. The Darkling, on the other hand, is a not to subtle Edward Cullen knockoff; all dark, brooding and boarder line abusive to Alana (and yet she loves him so).
The rest of the characters were waaaaay more interesting than the core three; why the hell wasn't this story about them?! So, as for world building, we have Ravka, a serial numbers filed off version of 18th century Russia; boarder end by totally isn't Scandanavia, and couldn't possibly be China (who eats their wizards and make instruments of their bones). Again, the lack of research is apparent in such instances as a character getting drunk...on children's beer, and the butchering of the Russian language.
The authors has explain all sorts of fascinating world building facts in interviews, yet seems to have forgotten to include them within the context of the novel itself. Bottom Line: World Building = thin as rice paper.
What really irks me isn't the cultural appropriation, the horrible messages and morals, or the cardboard characters. No, what really gets me is that the author seems to posses genuine talent and ability, but squanders it with romantic plot tumors, YA cliches, and pandering to love-sick fourteen year olds; all the the detriment of the novel.
If that were the end of it; I would still dislike, but not hate this novel. What pushes me over is how anyone could call this bold, innovative, well written, or possibly award worthy!
Bottom Line: don't waste your time. If you want so good fantasy in a none standard setting checkout Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon, instead. You'll be glad you did.
While I liked the world of the story, I think it would have been better told from an omniscient narrator's perspective because the main protagonist isn't particularly like able.
She makes a lot of mistakes but never seems to learn from them. She's suspicious of everyone EXCEPT the bad guys. It's like being inside the head of an acerbic, self obsessed kid, who spends the whole time complaining. An experience not worth repeating for the 2nd or 3rd book.
I was duped by all the 4 star reviews. Here is, in my estimation, what someone interested in listing to this story should know.
1. The antagonist/part time love interest (cliché anyone?) of the "heroine" is named The Darkling. Enough said.
2. After 5 hours the author finally gets to the plot twist (a.k.a. the point of the story so far). Seriously I could have listened to the first 30-40 minutes, skipped to the 5 hour mark, and not missed anything of significance!
3. From the publisher's summary: "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." Learned about this in the first hour of the story, and it lasted about 10 minutes. This was the best part of the 5 hours I made it through, and was mediocre at best.
4. Also from publisher's summary "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 her 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." THIS IS THE NEXT 4.5 HOURS, or roughly 1/2 of the book!!! Her failure at training (which the author does not give any inkling as to why she is failing, she just is) is over an hour long. Later it is revealed that her block was self-imposed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Oh, and by the way, her "super power" (spoiler alert) is creating light. Ultimately this was 5 hours of white noise, and is where I cry off. At this rate would take 10-20 books to complete the story. I am done.
Mostly YA Book Obsessed!
Fantasy isn’t my favorite genre (although I have come to like it more than I did before in the last few months) which is why this book has been sitting unread on my kindle for more than a year. Blogger fail! I’ve always wanted to read it, but it just kept getting pushed back. When I was looking through the ‘Top 10 of 2013′ posts at the end of last year, I saw this series on soooo many blogger’s lists. Honestly, I got sick of it and decided it was finally time for me to read it. Well listen to it anyway since I ended up buying the audiobook version. I definitely see why this series is such a favorite and it’s much deserved.
Alina and Mal were orphans who grew up together and now serve the Second Army. Although Alina has developed feelings for Mal, they’re just really good friends. When they come under attack one day and Mal is hurt, Alina unleashes a strong and mysterious power she wasn’t even aware she had. This power catches the attention of The Darkling who takes Alina away to train as a Grisha. Although Alina is supposed to be a savior for Ravka, she doesn’t feel like she fits in. She struggles during her lessons and can’t even call her power again. All she wants is to go back home and to see how Mal is. When Mal’s army duties bring him to Alina, their friendship is put to the test when new feelings get in the way. Soon, Alina discovers what the Darklings plans really are and she knows she can’t go through with it. With the help of Mal, they set off on a mission to save Alina’s life.
Although I liked the Darkling, he was dark and brooding and seductive and he had great chemistry with Alina, I’m gonna have to go with Team Mal on this one. I just felt like at the end of the day, if it were between Alina and power, I’m not sure what the Darkling would pick. I know Mal will always pick Alina. I’m such a huge sucker for the bad guys but in this case, the best friend won me over. Are you shocked? Because I sure as hell was! As much as I enjoyed Alina and the Darklings scenes, I liked the Alina and Mal scenes so much better. I’m excited and nervous to see how this ends!
The world that Bardugo created for us in Shadow and Bone is amazingly vivid! I was fascinated by the world of the Grisha’s. I don’t read many fantasy books so I do tend to struggle with them when I do. Especially the names. Other than the main characters (Alina, Mal and the Darkling), there are so many other smaller characters that still serve an important role and I would sometimes struggle place the characters with the names. Although it took a few tries I eventually learned all the names, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book at all. I have one teeny tiny silly (so silly) issue with this book (that also didn’t affect the rating). I’ve said in other reviews how I’ve read way too many books with really cheesy sex scenes and how some of these words make me cringe. One of my favorite cringe-worthy terms is ‘folds’ *cue shudders*. What does this have to do with Shadow and Bone? Well nothing…not really. You see, there’s this thing called The Shadow Fold that plays a pretty big role in the story. Most of the time, it’s referred to as ‘The Fold.’ I couldn’t help it, every time I would hear them say they were ‘entering The Fold’ I couldn’t help but let out a very immature giggle complete with a disturbing visual. I’ve been scarred for life by the damn folds!
Audiobook review: Although I’ve had this book for a looong time, I’m glad I ended up going with the audiobook. Lauren Fortgang nailed the tone of the story. She did the accents, characters and names to perfection! I love when I can tell which character is speaking. I always knew when Alina, Mal or the Darkling were talking. One of my audiobook pet peeves is when a YA book has a old-sounding narrator and was so happy that I could picture Alina with this narrator’s voice. I already heard the Siege and Storm audiobook (check out my review tomorrow!) and plan to continue the series on audiobook. If you’re like me and you’ve had these books on your TBR forever, the audiobook is a great option!
The narration was fantastic. I enjoyed the book up until the end. I thought it was a bit anti-climactic and didn't entice me to read the next one.
She played the main character very well. It was a very enthusiastic performance and I felt like she WAS the main character.
Audible Obsessed wishes she had more time for so many audiobooks.
I read the reviews, and I thought I was about to listen to a great book.
Good is the word, not great. Things were a little predictable along the way and even a little boring. There were no extreme emotions from my part, and that is what I like to feel when I read a book.
I will certainly read the next one, but I will not go too eager.
I recommend it, but not highly.
Shadow and Bone is one of the best Fantasy books I’ve read in a really long time! The dark, twisted, magical world that Leigh Bardugo created sucked me in from the very beginning, and I couldn’t get enough! At Leigh Bardugo’s signing, she spoke about the cover of Shadow and Bone…about how much she loves it and about how there are elements in the cover that are really significant to the story. I’ll have to admit that I was impatiently waiting for the moment that I would understand what these element meant while I was listening (yeah I read it by Audible) to Shadow and Bone, and now I’m super excited that I’m in the know! I’m pretty sure I squealed the moment I figured it out. Isn’t that just silly? I think I probably appreciated it even more because I already knew there was something significant about the cover before I even read the book.
The fantasy world that Leigh created is truly unique. It’s been a while since I’ve read a high fantasy book, and I forgot how much I truly enjoy them. And Leigh made it especially enjoyable because every moment while reading I had no idea what to expect, and that is what made reading Shadow and Bone so fun.
As for the characters, Alina was the perfect female protagonist. I loved watching her grow and I understood and respected her actions throughout the story. As for the dudes, I was a fan of The Darkling throughout most of the story, but I’m now actually a huge fan of Mal!
Overall, the story was amazing, the world was awesome, and the characters were very well developed…AND I’m now dying to get my hands on Siege and Storm.
it sounds like cheesy fan-fic with phoney russian words and names thrown in every once in a while. add romance from a girl's perspective and no thanks.
good voice. excellent enunciation.
anger at wasting money.
don't buy it unless you're a teenager that likes really bad fantasy.
Shadow and Bone is an inventive fantasy closely bound with Russian mythology. The story follows orphans Alina and Mal. They've stuck together through thick and thin but a battle with dark forces will reveal Alina's long kept secret - she has a magical ability that will make her both valued and hunted by those who want to control it.
My family listened to this during a long road trip - and all of us were entranced - from my 10 year old on to the adults. The book is not action packed yet it isn't slow either. It languidly builds tension as Alina is thrown into unfamiliar situations and she is forced to navigate through political and social pitfalls.
I appreciated that we didn't get 'fight the demon of the week'. There was a good mix of mythology, world building, and characterization to create a really unique voice and setting. It was easy to follow yet complex enough to hold our interest. The focus was on Alina developing her talent rather than Alina using her talent to fight the dark forces.
I really enjoyed this book. I'm actually listening to it a second time. The reader does a wonderful job with the voices and accents. Leigh Bardugo is amazing. I cant wait for the next in the series. I love the Darkling. He is the ultimate bad boy. It makes for an interesting love triangle. All the characters are interesting. I love the description of the lavish parties at the castle. It was a book I thought about after finishing it which is always a good sign.