Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
From Amazon: 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.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Does it ruin a review if you already know at the beginning how the reviewer feels about it? Meh, too late now. I loved this book. I'm not sure why I ever thought I wouldn't. Young adult trilogy. Female main character. Kind of dystopia like, I guess? All check marks in the things I enjoy column. I think it's the magic thing. I'm really not interested in people who have magical powers, in general, I guess. But it had good reviews and sounded interesting enough. Plus the cover art is cool. So I checked it out of my local library.
And then I started reading it, and holy crap did I ever get drawn into it. Fast. Alina hasn't even discovered her powers yet, and I'm struggling to put it down to go to bed.
Lets talk characters.
Alina is kind of awkward, but also clever and sarcastic. Awesome main character. Love her. I have tons of cliche things to say about her underlying strength and whatnot, but I wont. She's just awesome.
The Darkling - there is a swoon worthy male character. Yes, it's kind of a stupid name, but it works in the book. Somehow. It adds to the mysteriousness of him, I guess. Giving him a real name like Viktor or Nicolai - it just wouldn't work. I know he does have a real name (there was an illusion to "when he gave up his name"), so I hope this isn't going to be like the Divergent Series, where when we found out Four's real name, and then Tris keeps calling him that even though it totally doesn't suit who he is now (as opposed to who he was before he became Dauntless). Anyway, The Darkling - I don't really know how to write about The Darkling without spoilers. But yeah. THE DARKLING.
Who I didn't feel super excited about was Mal. I get the concept of Alina's feelings for Mal - girl falls for best friend who doesn't see her that way. I get it. And I know Mal's supposed to be handsome and confident and all the girls love him - I know because Alina told us so. You know that old piece of writing advice, Show, don't tell? This is the opposite of that. I think it's that he didn't have enough page time at the beginning to show it, though, because the author can write an awesome character (see: Alina and The Darkling).
Lets talk story
Ok, so yeah, the story isn't super original, but it doesn't follow the exact same patterns of every other young adult trilogy I've read recently. And that's something. It never felt tired or old or boring. It never felt unbelievable or wrong.
Words I would use to describe it would include engaging, engrossing and incredible.
The worst part of this book was when it was over. The second worst part? Finding out the library doesn't have book two. And third worst is that book three isn't even released yet.
On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Incredibly Awesome. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of young adult fiction, or magic, or just likes good books.