I started Shadow and Bone right after reading An Ember in the Ashes. This was a big mistake; I had a (lovely) book hangover from AEitA, so attempting to delve into a whole new fantasy world had me comparing and judging right off the bat. So I knocked out 60 pages or so, got bored, and set it aside for a few weeks while I cleansed my palette. And once I picked it up again, boom. I couldn’t put it down, and gobbled it up in one night and the next afternoon.
The premise of this book was really cool; there are a group of people called Grisha who study the Small Sciences, or how certain matter or elements interact with each other. Grisha are able to control or “call” these small particles and manipulate matter, the elements, or even the blood inside a creature’s body. There are the Corporalki (The Order of the Living and the Dead), the Etherealki (The Order of Summoners), and the Materialki (The Order of Fabrikators), and all of them are led by one man: The Darkling. All this wrapped up in a wild, desolate, Russian-inspired setting, and you have a hell of a start.
Now, some books are not life-changing books, but there’s something about them that makes me cast any small issues aside and hold them close. Shadow and Bone was exactly that: it wasn’t perfect, it didn’t make me question my existence or blow my mind, but it was fucking awesome and different and exciting and that made up for it.
I mean, “girl finds out she has special, one-of-a-kind power, gets a makeover and is treated like royalty, then somehow masters power and defeats enemy single-handed” is not a very unique concept. It’s been done a million times, but the reason is because when done correctly, it’s glorious. Potent. Spine-tingling. That’s what this book did to me — it actually gave me goosebumps two separate times while reading. I honestly don’t know if that’s ever happened to me before, but it rocked. The plot twists were as twisty as they come — I didn’t guess any of them (this is weird, because I almost always guess at least one big plot twist), and they surprised the crap out of me.
While the plot itself was very YA-y and cliched at times, the writing is what blew me away. Seriously, it was great. The main character, Alina, is one of the coolest MCs I’ve come across, because she was so utterly believable and real, and I connected with her almost instantly. She was sarcastic, head-over-heels for her best friend (been there, done that!), blunt, and flawed, and her dialogue/narration was often smirk-worthy in its realism. Also, just sayin’, the smoochin’ scenes were A+++. 😉
CORPORALNIK: brave, belligerent, and cocky. Corporalki undergo the most rigorous training of all the Grisha. Heartrenders are always ready for a fight. Healers use their powers to repair injury and treat sickness. Which are you? Report to the Little Palace for further testing.