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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Publication: June 5th, 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
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This rating is so upsetting for me. My heart physically hurts because Bardugo became a favorite of mine when I read Six of Crows. I honestly think if I read these books before SOC I might have actually enjoyed this story a lot more. I know how fantastic Bardugo is at writing, world-building, and characters. But sadly, I am reading this AFTER those so I sadly this wasn’t a hit for me. I am still going to finish this trilogy because I did like it enough to want to keep going. Books like Labyrinth Lost where I just hated it or was confused I didn’t continue but this book I at least enjoyed enough. Also, I think this story would have benefited from a dual point-of-view. I got bored of Alina’s thoughts and storyline. I would have really enjoyed chapters in the Darkling’s POV because he was amazingly written. If I read more in his mind I would have loved this a lot more. Alina is light and he is dark so, that clash in character and voice/tone of each chapter would have been so enjoyable. As it is one star is literally for him, the other is the plot idea & world-building, and the last is the cover. Shadow and Bone follow’s Alina as she learns that she is the only living Sun Summoner. She get’s split from her best friend Mal and has to live in the palace with the Darkling, the commander of the Grisha army, and learn to use her new found power. Over time she (and us), though I’m sure we were all smart enough to see he was the villain, learns that he wants to use her for power. That’s it. That’s all that happens. So much of nothing happens that I really started to skim a lot of chapters towards the end. This is the plot: Find outs she has power. Evil dude makes her feel special. Shows off the power. Finds out dude is ACTUALLY evil. Runs away. Meets up with the boring bestie. Captured by the evil guy again. Uses the power to save the day for now. The end. Heavy sigh. When I say I gave this a star it was because I loved the plot idea of dark vs light. But, this story felt more like an introduction to the overall trilogy plot.
Another sigh. I am so happy she improved. The writing wasn’t horrible but like I said it was so mundane. Nothing felt like it was happening. It was a drag to get through. I didn’t care enough for the characters to care enough about what was happening to them (even though it was a lot of nothing happening.) The stakes weren’t high. The beginning had action because they were in the fold. Then at the palace, it was just eating, train, sleep, kiss the darkling, repeat. Oh and a continuous reminder on how not beautiful she was compared to the Grisha. But I did love the world-building a lot. I am in love with the Grishaverse and the beauty of the kingdom. Everything is so vivid and radiant. I love the descriptions of the clothing, the architecture, and the vast lands the most. I want to live here and gallivant around this world. The darkling’s character was the best written and he wasn’t even the MC. The romance was a let down compared to SOC it was boring I didn’t care for it.
Alina was ok. She wasn’t terrible but she was forgettable. In a few years, I won’t remember her or much about her the way I do characters like Annabeth, Hazel, Piper, Sadie Kane, Mara, Inej, Clary, Emma, Jude, Katniss, Tris, Bella, Lila Bard, Shazi, Isaboe, Quintana and more. I wasn’t in love with her character. I was bored with her. She mentioned beauty in every other chapter and how much she didn’t compare to the Grisha. It was exhausting. Her inner monologue about everything was tedious and I just wanted her to stop thinking. I loved her power and I hope she grows from this book in the next one because I like her well enough to see more of her. Also, her pining for that bore Mal was atrocious. When she said she was done chasing after him I thought FINALLY SHE IS BECOMING HER OWN…all he had to say was a few words and she was back to being a mess. Mal was a bore. The biggest bore. What is her appeal in this bore of a man??? He literally only finally “loved” her because he saw her with the darkling…cliche much? When he finally came back I was like oh you? When Alina thought he died I was like oh so sad. But no we didn’t get even that. Personally, him dying and spurning this revenge in her would have been more exciting. The Darkling was the only interesting and redeemable character. He is one of the best villains. So alluring and dark. I loved his vindictive and careless attitude. Sadly, I know his ending which is a shame he is the only good characters to me. I truly loved everything about him and his cause. He is very complex and I want to be in his mind.
I don’t ship anything. The darkling and Alina is a pointless ship because it won’t work and Mal and Alina are two boring people in a boring relationship. I hate how their “romance” started and I think they were better as friends. The darkling moments are alluring and enjoyable but I don’t care too much to be honest. I mean I would have loved for her to join him and they both wreak havoc on the world but authors are too cowardice to let the villains win. I’ll have to write the villain books myself. The romance just made me roll my eyes and what’s worse is this becomes a triangle I believe. Sigh.
The Darkling slid from his mount and threw his hands wide, then brought them together with a resounding boom. Skeins of darkness shot from his clasped hands, snaking through the glen, finding the Fjerdan assassins, then slithering up their bodies to swathe their faces in seething shadow.
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
The moment his lips met mine, the connection between us opened and I felt his power flood through me. I could feel how much he wanted me—but behind that desire, I could feel something else, something that felt like anger.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
“Those who do not bow to him will see their kingdoms turned to desolate wasteland and their people devoured by ravening volcra.”
“But with the Fold in his power, he will spread destruction before him. He will lay waste to the world, and he will never have to kneel to another King again.”
“Just what kind of life do you think you could have with him, Alina? He’s otkazat’sya. He can never hope to understand your power, and if he did, he’d only come to fear you. There is no ordinary life for people like you and me.”
“Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”