Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
#1 in the Grisha series
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Pages: 368
Received: ARC from publisher 
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf




Summary

From Goodreads:

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.



Review

The girl who lived!

Look, I know, I'm totally supposed to be over the plot of "ordinary kid finds out they're THE ONE and will vanquish all evil and bring about paradise on Earth" yada yada. And I know I'm probably supposed to roll my eyes at yet another book centering around that tired plot...but guess what?

I'm still so completely ON that bandwagon. I don't care how many times it's been done. Finding out Alina may be THE ONE was pretty much a Score! moment for me.

Alina is also a character I just straight up liked. Sure she may get down on herself sometimes because she's plain and not a stunning beauty (even though I picture her as very pretty, just like I do for all my main characters. I'm shallow like that), but I liked that she isn't perfect.

Up until the events of the book, Alina lived life as an orphan soldier (badass + orphan bonus points!). And, given that the setting is loosely based on Tsarist Russia, yeah, Alina's used to HARD living (the Russian Army wasn't known for its creature comforts). She's reluctant, cautious, and reserved. But, I also get the sense that she would be a blast at a sleepover party if she felt comfortable. And that's a good thing, because I'm totally extending an invitation to her (and her best friend. That girl totally needs to use her magic on me).
 
I'm caught in the middle of a love triangle

I think Alina's pretty much made up her mind at this point, but I certainly haven't! There are two guys but this isn't one of those dreaded love triangles with an indecisive main character who strings both guys along. Alina is never untrue and she never plays the part of the indecisive floozy.

You can leave that role to me though, because my gosh, I want BOTH of those guys! The Darkling is all Tall, Dark, and Handsome mixed with a heavy dose of Mysterious and a gigantic helping of Dangerous thrown in for good measure. He is seriously scary and I'm pretty sure he's evil in the Real Deal actual evil kind of way.

But oh boy is he hot. There's this one scene where Alina's feeling the whole "This is so wrong but it feels so good that I don't really care if I die just so long as I can continue this kiss for a minute more" kind of thing and I was equally swept up in the moment.

The Darkling is The Fourth Pastry: that fourth pastry calling out to me all seductively sweet and I just know I shouldn't eat it and I already ate three and I really shouldn't eat more...buuuut, oooh I so want to devour it. He's like that. Bad for me, but soooo good.

The other guy Mal is the best-friend-maybe-more love interest who reminded me a little of Gale from The Hunger Games with his steadfast friendship and outdoorsy masculinity. He's the kind of guy I picture having "capable hands." There's also a little protectiveness ala Jay from The Body Finder thrown in for good measure, too. Mal and Alina grew up together as orphans and then served together in the army, so they're particularly tight.

Sadly Mal doesn't have as much pagetime as I would have liked (but the Darkling helped fill the void). He's there in the beginning and then he comes back toward the end, but he's gone for pretty much the whole middle. BUT, what he's doing during that time is, oh my, well, I can't spoil anything for you!

What about the rest of the story?

I know I'm focusing on the characters a lot, but that's completely because I'm a character girl and not at all because there isn't much plot to talk about. Because there is a TON of plot to talk about! It's my favorite kind, too.

Let's see, the book starts with some basic Setting the Stage and quickly takes a trip into the Shadow Fold. What is this Fold? It is terrifying! The ARC cover for Shadow and Bone was perfect for this scene: Pitch dark and splattered with blood. It was so awesome! I appreciated a lot of things Leigh Bardugo did as an author, but this scene, aaahh this scene! Perfection. It was like I was standing right there.

Then the plot moves into my beloved court setting! You know what that means, right? Big house oogling, balls, fancy extravagant things, and INTRIGUE! And Alina goes to this court to learn, so it's really like a cross between a court setting and a boarding school. More points! AND, she doesn't just go to learn bookish stuff, but she also learns how to fight magically with lessons from both the hot Darkling and a creepy old lady who sometimes veers into sweet old lady territory but is totally hiding some Big Secrets. Even more points!!

THEN, (yes, there's more!) then we move into the questing part of the story. There isn't a whole lot of time spent on this, but the time that is spent there was glorious and everything I want out of a good quest. Which is to say it was both exciting and romantically charged. But then bad things happen and my heart was in my throat because I couldn't imagine how my beloved characters were going to get away ok. It was all so fantastically tense.

Bottom line

All of the elements came together perfectly for me and there is not even the slightest bit of hesitation as I add Shadow and Bone firmly to my Special Shelf.

The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it isn't tied up neatly either. Stuff is brewing on the horizon, especially as fallout after everything that just happened, but for now Alina and I can take a deep breath and prepare. Or, you know, impatiently count down the days until the release of Siege and Storm (book 2).



Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 


Do you have any questions about Shadow and Bone that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Add it on Goodreads!
Buy it on Amazon!
Shadow and Bone releases today--No More Waiting!

Did you catch the interview Ruby and I did with Leigh Bardugo? Complete will all the very important questions!


Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 
  
Click on the covers to go to my reviews and/or Goodreads.

40 comments:

  1. So cool that it made the special shelf!!

    Waiting for summer (and school to be over) to dig into this one, although that whole "fourth pastry" thing really makes me want to read it now...and it makes me a little hungry, too.

    Shelley

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    1. Good idea waiting for school to end first. This was the kind of book where I wanted to drop everything and just read. The fourth pastry thing is making me a little hungry too :) I hope you enjoy the book!

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  2. Interesting that Mal made you think of Gale because he actually made me think of Peeta; maybe because of when they're on the run and he's willing to do whatever it takes? Or perhaps simply because I picture both as blonde while Gale and the Darkling are brunette?

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    1. heh I think we're both seeing the features of the guys we like in him. :P I can definitely see where you're coming from with the Peeta likeness though. But, did I read that right, did we actually both fall for the same guy?! :D

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    2. It seems like it-I even did like the Darkling before...well. But Mal was my #1-I loved his declaration of love, swoon!

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  3. I just started this one tonight, but I'm already 100 pages in and loving it! I just hope it stays that way, though I'm sure it will since you (and just about every other blogger in the bookish community) has adored it.

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    1. I hope you continue to love it! Some reviews I saw liked the first half more than the second half, but I enjoyed both equally. I can't wait to read your review!

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  4. I want to be convinced! I really do! I'm just so tired of love triangles.

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    1. Ugh, I agree. I was tired of love triangles as soon as they started! I don't like how they make the main character seem so indecisive and cruel. It sort of cheapens the romance for me a little. But, I do think the "love triangle" (if it can even be called that) in this book is very different. Hope that helps!

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  5. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG! So I just read the first 5 chapters last night (it was free on Amazon and I can't get the book till later today!) and OMG! The Darkling is just oozing mysterious sexiness *swoon* and the fold almost made me pee my pants! Hahaha I can't wait to delve into this because I can't wait to see what happens when she gets to court. And I must say, even though Mal was only in there for a bit, I'm really interested to know more about him. And the Darkling! ;)
    Fantastic review! I'm going to go jump in my car and get to B&N ASAP! XD

    All the best ♥
    Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

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    1. Oh my gosh, wait until you get to THAT scene with the Darkling. :) Yup, the fold is pee-your-pants scary, for sure! I hope you LOVE it! Can't wait to hear your thoughts when you're done :D

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    2. Oh....my.........gosh! I just finished this and I don't even know what to say! *happy dance* this book was amaaaaaaazing!!! and THAT scene *fans self* ;) Seriously awesome! ALSKDFJAOSIDFJAOSDIFJ Okay, now that I've gotten all that off my chest, maybe I can actually focus enough to write a review here soon :P

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    3. YAY!!!! *Happy dance* Oh my gosh, YES, THAT scene, right?!? So much swoon. Good luck writing your review! I can never write a proper review for a book I loved. :P

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  6. I didn't think that this one was for me, but I've been reading such great reviews that I may just have to check it out! I always pay extra special notice of those books on your special shelf. :)

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    1. I hope you love it. I think you'll definitely like Mal at least. Anyone who reminds me a little of Jay makes me think of you. :)

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  7. And sold! I have to read this now; great review!

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    1. Yay! I hope you enjoy it. As a historical fiction fan, I'm curious to see how you like her cultural twists.

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  8. Yours is probably the third glowing review I have seen of this book, and I'm all like, "MUST. HAVE. NOW!" It sounds amazing! (and, bonus, I loved Grave Mercy and Poison Study, so I'm pretty sure this will be a win as well!)

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    1. It's a very glow-worthy book :) You must get your hands on a copy!

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  9. This is on my special shelf as well.

    The Darkling as fourth pastry? Yes.
    That kissing scene? My gods, I completely agree!
    The Shadow Fold scene? Perfect.

    I'm glad you loved the book as much as I did and made your review as awesome as ever :).

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    1. Yay for Special Shelves! I'm so happy you loved it as much as I do (and for all the same reasons!) We have pretty similar taste in books, I think :)

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  10. Ok, so I'm definitely meeting Leigh Bardugo tomorrow, and I'm definitely buying this book tomorrow so that she can sign it. And, so. Yeah. Because I need to read this this very second. Because it's just that cool. I mean, really!! The love triangle, Alina's character, the story line!!! GASP!! Ok, buying ASAP!! :D

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    1. Aaaah you're going to meet her?! Please pass on my hellos and crazy happy fangirling :) I hope you love the book as much as I do!

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    2. Omygosh the signing was fantastic and Leigh was wonderful!! :D I bought the book and had it signed and am soooo excited to dive into this world!!

      I only just got this comment, or else I totally would have passed on your message - But look!! She's coming your way!!! :D
      - September 29:
      Austin Teen Book Festival, Austin, Texas (http://austinteenbookfestival.com/)

      It's some time from now, but I'm sure it'd be worth the wait. ;)

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    3. AWESOME!!! I am SO going to go to that Austin Teen Book Festival now! Thank you! I am so glad you had fun at the signing. I hope you love the book!

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  11. A Poison Study/Grave Mercy read-alike? Count me in!

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    1. Oh yes, I definitely think you need to read it. It seems right up your alley.

      And speaking of, THANK YOU for the Thief recommendation. I found myself in the position of having to wait a long time in a bookstore the other day and ended up reading the first 30 or so pages and I think I'm in love now. :) I'll be adding it to my next Amazon order for sure. Are the sequels worth ordering as well?

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  12. I really like this book! It was a lot of fun and highly creative. I'm a big Darkling fan...despite some issues. That's all I'm going to say so I don't spoil anything for others. lol Great review!

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    1. Oh yes, I am with you on the Darkling (and waffling back and forth on the issues). :)

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  13. I was really curious about this one, but your review convinced me to just dive in and read it. I loved the book pairings for this book so I'm really sure that I'll love this one too.

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    1. I think you'll like it given your taste in books. I hope you do!

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  14. Book sounds awesome, Smallsie!
    This was already on my wish list but I think a bump into the Shopping list might be in order.

    I'm not sure about the love-triangle thing, but I trust ye.

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    1. Oh yes, definitely bump it up. :) It's definitely a fantasy book, but I hope you like it!

      I really don't like love triangles, so I wouldn't worry about it :)

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  15. Lol, I love your reading your reviews! You make me want to squee with you even if I've never read the book.

    I don't think I've seen a bad review for this one yet and since I have it for review, I'm super excited about starting it soon. I want more fantasy!

    "The Darkling is all Tall, Dark, and Handsome mixed with a heavy dose of Mysterious and a gigantic helping of Dangerous thrown in for good measure." Ooo, I might have to fight you for him :)

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    1. :D I'm so happy to hear you say that! I always have the most trouble trying to write reviews for books I loved. It's like, how do I turn OHMYGOSHEIHFOPHGHSLOVEEEEE!! into a coherent review??

      I hope you enjoy the Darkling! I'm totally willing to share with you :)

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  16. Seems like you have had more Special Shelf books than usual lately! Would you say that's because you're getting better at choosing the right book for you or are you lucking out? At any rate, I know I've been really enjoying it because your Special Shelf reviews are always my favourite - your enthusiasm is so catching! Though it also means I have a quite a few recommendations from you on my tbr that I still haven't managed to get around to yet (like Code Name Verity and The False Prince!).

    "Alina is never untrue and she never plays the part of the indecisive floozy. You can leave that role to me though, because my gosh, I want BOTH of those guys!" LOL. I'm glad the triangle wasn't the annoying kind. I have no doubt that I'll be firmly on team Mal though.

    Glad you got two of your favourite plot elements - court intrigue and questing! Gah, this sounds SO good. I really hope I can get to it soon.

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    1. I have had a pretty phenomenal Special Shelf streak lately, though not as much as it probably seems. I read some of the books much earlier than I posted the review (like Grave Mercy, last year, and this one earlier in the year). I'm not sure if it's luck (though it definitely was with Code Name Verity—wasn't expecting that!) or being more selective (I had HIGH hopes for The False Prince and The Assassin's Curse). It seems like there are more books that are MY kind of book getting published lately, too.

      I'm so happy you enjoy my Special Shelf reviews! It's hard to gush AND make sense, so I'm very glad to hear I'm actually managing to communicate well :P

      I think you will definitely be on Team Mal. :) I hope you get to find out soon!

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  17. great review! i love this book

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you love Shadow and Bone too :D

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  18. Argh! I want this book so bad! I couldn't find it at the bookstore when I went last week! I'm going to have to scour bookstores this week because I seriously can't handle reading another rave review without this book being in my possession!

    I'm happy you've had such good luck with book's lately ^_^

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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