The country of Ravka was divided many years ago when the Dark Heretic created the Shadow Fold, an area of impenetrable darkness that separates West Ravka from the rest of the country. Within the fold, live creatures that were once human known as Volcra. Corrupted by darkness, they feed on the human flesh of travelers and soldiers that make the dangerous trip into the Fold. Enter Alina Starkov and Malyen "Mal" Oretsev. Both orphans due to the Border Wars that Ravka raged against its neighboring countries, Mal is a tracker with the First Army of Ravka while Alina is a mapmaker. During their first trip into the void, they are attacked by Volcra and it's during this attack that everyone witnesses a display of Alina's powers. Deemed a Grisha, practitioners of the "Small Science" and akin to sorcerers, Alina is whisked away into a world of politics and power.
Ok, that was a pretty lame summary but really, I can't tell you much without giving it all away! Shadow and Bone was a book that I read in approximately three hours. I was actually completely ignoring my schoolwork and just devouring this book! It's an easy read and fast paced so that every time I stopped, I did so begrudgingly because something was always going on. I liked its fast pace and I especially liked the realistic way in which Alina was portrayed. She went from, "Idk what I'm doing, I'm going to fail so horribly at this" to "Come at me bruh." Mal was difficult to figure out, and while he had some character development, I felt like I wasn't 100% sold on this character even at the end. Other characters were similar in that I felt like I had only skimmed the surface with them. And that's actually ok, because as the first part of a trilogy, I think it's acceptable to do so. While the books get reviewed as separate entities, they're all telling a part of one overarching story, so I hope that I see more of the supporting characters and more character development in the following books.
At first, I was annoyed that the Small Science wasn't covered in-depth. I picked up this book primarily because I wanted to learn more about the Grisha and while a lot of great material was covered, the explanations of how the small science works were vague. Then I realized that it's because they're told from Alina's perspective and Alina herself had trouble understanding it. Alina is a girl that from the onset was more of a hands-on learner and having her understand theory easily so that we, the readers, could understand it would have been out of character for her. I came to appreciate that the author didn't just send us in a classroom where a lecturer provided a wall of text to explain how the small science works. Sometimes, things don't make all that much sense and that's ok. I do think however, that as Alina's powers continue to grow, the small science will start to make more sense to her and by extension, to the reader as well.
|The world of Shadow and Bone|