Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) 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.

(Summary from GoodReads)

If it’s YA fantasy, I am going to want to read it.  I was tempted to purchase Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone the day it came out, but held off until ALA, where I picked up a signed, personalized copy.  Shadow and Bone has received a lot of rave reviews, but this unfortunately won’t be one of those.

Shadow and Bone has good world-building and the writing is fine.  Bardugo’s novel is quickly paced and highly readable.  Sadly, I think this is where my praise ends.

Alina isn’t the most likable character.  She’s self-deprecating and doesn’t put a lot of faith in herself.  I don’t think this would have bothered me if these traits lessened throughout the novel, but to me they stayed about the same. I also felt that some of her interactions with the other characters seemed quite juvenile.  I realize that Bardugo’s novel is written for teens, but I like my drama written in a way that I can relate to as an adult.

Despite the pacing, I didn’t love the plot.  One aspect of the romantic storyline was quite predictable.  Towards the end, Bardugo threw in a lot of twists and turns, and it started to feel like too much.  I kept thinking that this story needed to find a direction and stick to it.  Instead, I felt as though Bardugo was throwing in recent popular tropes in YA in order to appease her reader.

I cannot fairly tale you whether or not Shadow and Bone is a good book or a bad book.  My experience with this book was like going on a date where you don’t have much to say to the other person: you start off intrigued, and you keep going because maybe things will turn around, but in the end you find yourself thinking that it was only okay.  This book and I just didn’t quite jive with each other.  People seem to either love or hate this one, though, so go check out other reviews before deciding for yourself.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Other reviews:


  1. Sorry this one didn't work for you. I was neutral on this book at first but the more I've thought about it, the more I like it and am excited for the sequel.

  2. I feel the same way you do. I love the brilliant cover, but the story wasn't as brilliant as I'd expected it to be. I agree with your analysis of Alina, and the plot. Great review!

  3. I agree with you on this one. The biggest gripe I had with it was that the main character was not as well developed as I wanted her to be. She had the potential to be a great protagonist but she ends up always making the wrong decision and, instead of thinking for herself, relying on men to solve her problems. Also, the Darkling had been built up initially as this fantastically complex character and then he just went nowhere.

    Also, I would love to talk about your MLIS program. I'm doing a Masters of Children's Lit but we're associated with SLAIS (School of Lib. Archival and Information Science) and it would be fascinating to know what kind of Libr. courses you did over the course of your program.



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