3 / 5 stars
Read in September 2019
Book #1 in the Shadow and Bone trilogy
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy despite the medium rating! I’m also excited to reading more Leigh Bardugo, as from what I’ve read her books just get better and better.
Most of Shadow and Bone was filled with YA tropes, but perhaps I feel I didn’t mind them so much since the middle schooler in me was happy to finally be diving back into YA fantasy.
Our MC, Alina, while possessing many qualities typical of YA heroines (“ugly”, discovers powers that she now must use to save the world, falls in love with her hunky BFF, undergoes a transformation, etc.), she didn’t drive me toooo crazy compared to others (looking at you, Mare Barrow). Her character development included self-reflection on the consequences of her own actions rather than just “I shouldn’t have trusted this person” or “How didn’t I see that coming?” or “I must accept my destiny to save the world even though I don’t want to”(don’t get me wrong, though, there was a lot of that as well). She realized that she made stupid mistakes and had to come to terms with them while pushing forward.
I enjoyed side the characters, especially Genya and surprisingly Mal, but I’m hoping they’ll shine even more as the trilogy goes on.
The hardest element of this book for me: the worldbuilding. Maybe it was because I read before bed every night, so my tired brain wasn’t retaining specifics very well, but the following day I usually found myself with so many questions on what I’d read the night before. Such as:
Where did the Grisha come from?
Why are some of them Saints? What is the religion of Ravka – worshipping past Grisha, or are there gods?
What can’t the Grisha do? Every one of them seemed to have multiple powers (except Alina), and I had such a hard time keeping their titles and abilities (and robe colors) straight.
Why are the King and Queen even in power? They were in the book like twice. The Grisha see themselves as servants to the King, but he doesn’t even do anything in the book to show how much power he has.
What has stopped the Grisha or the Darkling from taking the throne before now?
Who has Ravka been at war with for the past 100 years? I kept forgetting.
Why can’t we see more effects of this war on the people? It seemed like a side plot device.
Lastly: how didn’t anyone see it coming that the Darkling is evil? I mean, look at his name… which he coined for himself…
These aren’t even half the questions I have from this 350 page book.
All in all, I’m interested to see how the story and characters progress. Hoping some of my above questions will answered, and I’m pulled even deeper into the world of the Grishaverse.