SHADOW AND BONE (Book 1 of The Grisha Trilogy)

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: EBook, Print
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Recommended Reading: Grade 7 and up

****THERE ARE NO SPOILERS****

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Author Leigh Bardugo was a moderator at one of the panels I attended at the 2013 YALLFest and I immediately noticed her humor, intelligence and how the other authors raved about her without being prompted to do so.  Because of this small interaction, I wanted to read her work.  Not only does the book have a beautiful cover, but the storyline is rich in detail and entertaining enough to make me want to read the sequel.

[divider top=”0″]SYNOPSIS: 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.[divider top=”0″]

THE LOWDOWN: The story is told from Alina’s POV and while I feel that was appropriate, the constant reminder of her low self-esteem, was quite annoying.  This girl has the potential to save her country and all you read about is her self-doubt and low self-worth.  I get it and maybe I would feel the same way for about the first day or two, but not for the whole book.  I am not a fan of insecure lead females and Alina’s constant complaining, her indecisiveness regarding her love interest and not willing to train hard for her power in the beginning was disappointing. When she wasn’t in a self-loathing mood, she was actually smart and witty.  Those moments I enjoyed about Alina.  All the supporting characters were interesting, unique and had their own storyline that made you want to know more. What really saved the story for me is that the author did an excellent job describing her imagination and it was easy for me to visualize the story as I read.

I haven’t had much interaction with Russian culture, but the little that I have had showed me that the author did not do a good job researching Eastern European culture when it comes to genders and identifying them with their last names.  For example, Alina’s last name is Starkov.  For women, their last names end with “ova” – not “ov”, which usually indicates a man’s name.  So Alina should be Alina Starkova.  I understand that in modern times, that is not always the case, but since the author is not writing in modern times, this should have been considered.  If you aren’t familiar with the culture, then you wouldn’t have noticed this and it might not be a big deal for you.  It was for me since I have been exposed and have friends from Russia.  Despite this, the author still made me want to see the sights of Russia after painting the picture of a war-ravaged country and the fine line between luxury and poverty in Ravka.

I still recommend this book because I do feel that it was an entertaining read and an original concept.  Even though the book is #1 in a series, I it could be a stand alone if you feel you did not enjoy it enough to continue on.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what your opinions on the book are.

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