2 orphans. 2 worlds. 1 magical society. 1 country.
Alina Starkov is just a typical girl – not so special, has a crush on her best friend, and low maintenance. All her life, she lived a normal life far from the extravagant life of the Grisha, the magical elite lead by the Darkling. When Alina entered the Fold, a dangerous area surrounded by pure darkness and monsters, she discovers something about her that will turn her world upside down. The life she knew will be replaced with lavish clothes, vibrant palace, and a mysterious, seductive boy who will tear Alina’s heart – and their country – into two.
Shadow and Bone is a fast-paced adventure that sets up the rest of the trilogy beautifully. Packed with action and adventure, there is no dead chapter. The story flows smoothly and quickly that with every page, there is always an element of a story that pushes the story forward. This novel is a page turner with an engaging story and interesting characters that are easy to fall in love with. It is an incredible page turner where the first word immediately zaps you in the world of Grishas, action, adventure, romance, and darkness.
Although Shadow and Bone is filled with action, it also manages to give a breather every now and then. It does not slap you with heaviness, death, and blood all the time, there is also space to breathe and take time to absorb everything. It is not too heavy but it is not too fluffy either. It has the perfect balance of humor, love, drama, and darkness.
The first part of the book was a little bit sprinkled with tropes that are common in a young adult novel. We are 40 pages in and we have already encountered two of the most common tropes in Y.A.: A drop dead gorgeous boy with bright blue eyes; And the line we have been reading for the past 7 years, “I realized that I had been holding my breath.” There is also the “I’m a what?!” trope, the one where the main character never knew she was special but she is actually the only one who can save the world. Although the structure of the book is formulaic and cliched at some parts, it is still entertaining. It is formulaic but it still feels fresh because of the world building and magic that Leigh Bardugo gave life to.
The magic system and world building are easy to follow and Bardugo did not just dump every information during the first few chapters. It was like following Dorothy enter the magical world of Oz where she is seeing the colorful world for the first time. Entering the world of Ravka and Grishas felt like that – it was as if we are also part of the journey of unveiling the magic and world of this magical elite. It is easy to follow the story and magical system with this kind of storytelling because with this, the information, names, places, powers, are not piled up in one chapter and it is easy to remember them and not mistake them from one another.
Leigh Bardugo’s writing is captivating and engaging. She hooks you from the very first word and will not let you go until the very last period. She knows how to create a bunch of interesting characters that will make you laugh, swoon, cry, and question your morals. She also knows how to write effective plot twists that will make you yell at the book and scratch your head thinking, “How come I never saw that coming?” Bardugo’s writing style is simple yet effective. She creates vivid images of places and people that are not only realistic but also gripping. Bardugo uses simple words but creates extraordinary worlds.
Shadow and Bone is a young adult fantasy that is well-written and thoughtfully planned. It is a solid first book that hits all the right marks that make the readers thirst for more action, drama, and romance.