Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Format: ARC copy
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What an excellent read! I had heard great things about this book before I started reading it and was pleased to find that it was even better than I had anticipated. With compelling characters, plenty of action and plot twists, a romantic love story, and a fascinating new world, this book was impossible not to enjoy!
While it took some time to learn the meaning of some of the more confusing sounding terms in this book – such as Grisha, Corporalki, Keramzin, and the Shadow Fold – I found myself excited to learn the meaning of these words as the story progressed. Barugo created a rich and delightful world where the powerful live in a great palace under the rule of a childish King and the powerless fight in the front lines of the army. It was interesting seeing the life of the Grisha (those with magical powers) through the eyes of Alina, an orphan who finds herself thrust into this complex world when the Darkling (the most powerful Grisha) discovers her hidden powers that could save the world.
Alina is a captivating main character who underwent a major transformation throughout the book. Her transformation can be split into two separate parts: before she mastered her sun summoning power and after. Before she knew how to control her powers, Alina was a scrawny, frail young girl who never slept or ate well. She was always so exhausted and weak from the unconscious effort that she expended shoving her power deeper inside herself. However, after she finally learns how to control her sun summoning, Alina becomes a vibrant, strong, and powerful young woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself and those she loves. Her transformation was truly one of the most magical parts of the book.
Another part that I loved was Alina’s relationship with her best friend, Mal, who grew up in the orphanage with her. Alina makes it clear from the beginning that she loves Mal, who has suddenly become handsome and popular as they have grown older, even if he does not feel the same about her. However, once Alina is brought to the Grisha and away from Mal, it becomes evident that Mal has always loved Alina as well, even if it took him some time to realize it. In comparison to the popular and caring Mal, the complexity of the Darkling made for a wonderful love triangle. In a typical YA love triangle, both of the guys will be great and it is difficult to choose between them, but in the end the main character will find her soul mate in one of the two perfect guys. However, that is not the case here; it quickly becomes clear that the Darkling is not particularly sweet. It was interesting to see Alina fall for the Darkling, or at least the idea of the Darkling, even though she knows that he is dangerous.
Overall, Shadow and Bone is an excellent book. Bardugo creates a thrilling world full of love and betrayal. I love when authors are not afraid to kill off characters; even though it is sad when some people die, their deaths just make me feel so much more passionately about the book. I would definitely recommend this book to dystopian romance fans, and I cannot wait to read the sequel!