Wednesday, August 14, 2013

{Joint Review} Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #1
Genre: YA fantasy
Published: June 5, 2012 (Henry Hold and Co.)
Summary: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, is leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Racquel's Thoughts:
Can we talk about how pretty this cover is? This is one book you don't want to read in e-book form because the physical thing is glorious. Everything is pretty. Even the page numbers. So buy this book because you want this baby on your shelf and best of all, what's on the inside is just as good as the outside.

Sharon's Thoughts:
Agreeing with Racquel that art and style of this book is phenomenal! I think half of the experience is just looking at the pretty. Anyway, I was excited to read Shadow and Bone on one hand, but my best friend had just abandoned it halfway through because she couldn't get into it. I picked it up anyway, though, and was immediately sucked in! I had been in a bit of a reading slump, and this book effectively cured it.

Racquel's Thoughts:
I didn't know what to expect since I'm not a fantasy reader (though I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to be!) but I was pleasantly surprised! At first the language seemed odd to me because I thought it was too contemporary for the story but Sharon assured me that this is fantasy and the language could be whatever it wants to be so I eventually got over that. Besides that, Bardugo did a good job with the world building. It wasn't extremely complex but it was fleshed out and easy to follow and understand.

Sharon's Thoughts:
Unlike Racquel, I absolutely LOVE fantasy, even though I don't read as much of it as I could. I'm selective as to which ones I pick up, but when I read it, I fall in love. This happened in Shadow and Bone! The world was clear and fleshed out pretty well without becoming bogged down with unnecessary details, and I loved the Russian inspiration behind the terms and names. (I also very much appreciated that there was a key to The Grisha orders in the front. I made use of it numerous times!)
Racquel's Thoughts:
Alina: I loved Alina! She grew throughout the book and I liked seeing that. She was definitely my favorite part of the book. 

Mal: Sharon would agree that next to The Darkling, Mal was bland. I wanted to see more to him and he needs to step up his game because the alluring Darkling totally stole his shadow AND bone (see what I did there? hahaha. Ok I'm done.) Hopefully he'll grow in Siege & Storm.

The Darkling: The Darkling was definitely something. He was fascinating and oh so interesting. A bad ass in black! But as the book went on it seemed to me that the Darkling may or may not be the villain and some of his actions at the end of the book are pretty much not redeemable so that's sad. Why is evil always so hot? I definitely want to see what happens in Siege & Storm and book 3. Is my gut feeling correct? Is the Darkling evil?

Sharon's Thoughts:
Alina: I liked Alina a lot! Sure, she had her moments of being less than perfect, but don't we all? I enjoyed getting to know her as a character and watching her growing in her power.

Mal: *yawn* Sorry, did you ask a question? Oh, right. Mal. Um. Well. I liked him by the end! Once there was a little bit of substance to his character.

The Darkling: This is one area where I apparently differ from the majority of the blogosphere. I don't get the Darkling's appeal at all. The guy is straight-up E-V-I-L, evil. Yes, he was intriguing in the beginning. Yes, he's sort of sexy, although I really think the enigma he represented was more alluring than the Darkling himself. Whatever. Regardless, I'm calling it: He totally winds up the Ultimate Villain, and I'm looking forward to Alina coming into her own and stomping all over his creepily pale ass.

Racquel's Thoughts:
It was an interesting love triangle. The childhood best friend vs. the tall, dark and sexy Darkling but I was shipping Mal for Alina despite him not being as interesting as the Darkling. I was getting too many evil vibes from the Darkling to ship him with Alina. It will be interesting to see where Bardugo takes this triangle!

Sharon's Thoughts:
Unfortunately, the triangle element of this book was a bit of a flop for me, ultimately. The chemistry and tension between Alina and the Darkling was very well developed! I was definitely feeling them for a while. But as I grew to know and dislike the Darkling, my fledgling love for this couple withered and died. I still found them very compelling when simply looking at their situation objectively, and I WANTED to ship them. Hello, complicated and forbidden and awesome! All kinds of potential there. But he was just too evil. I couldn't do it. And I really don't think they would work, anyway.

So, what about joining up on Team Mal with Racquel, you ask? Well, obviously that would be the logical choice. The only problem there is that the only thing I found more boring in this book than Mal as a character was the Mal/Alina relationship. I usually LOVE the Best Friends (Secretly in Love) trope, but it fell very flat here. I just didn't feel it! Give me a reason. Give me a feeling. Give me something that I can actually feel and see with my own eyes, rather than a few explanations of how pretty his hair is or how he did something really awesome when he was 11. They had a few cute moments, but certainly not enough to win me over.
Racquel's Thoughts:
Overall, I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone and I definitely recommend it but I will say that I felt like it never reached it's peak. It could have been a 5-star-all-time-favorite but it never got there. I just felt like there could have been MORE. More to Mal and more to the world. Hopefully Siege & Storm reaches the 5-star-all-time-favorite stage.

Sharon's Thoughts:
Despite the fact that I wound up not supporting either of the guys in The Triangle, I did wind up loving Shadow and Bone! Which is a testament so what an interesting tale it really was. I was a little less than impressed by the end, but I also read the last 50 pages standing in line at the DMV in a crowd that a) wouldn't shut up, and b) was not so fond of deodorant. So that may have played a factor. Still, reading Shadow and Bone was a great experience! Some of my expectations matched the reality (it was so addicting!) and some did not (no Darkling-induced swooning here!), and overall, this book was thoroughly enjoyable. And sneak preview of tomorrow's post? I loved Siege and Storm even more!

Racquel's Rating: [B] a very solid read that is worthy of the hype but I did want a little more from the book.
Sharon's Rating: Staying in Tonight
I’m trying to be reassuring. You could at least pretend I’m succeeding.

Silly girl. There’s no such thing as too much champagne. Though your head will try to tell you otherwise tomorrow.

The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.

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