GORGEOUS. Absolutely, and with no doubt, gorgeous.
I haven't read a fantasy in a while, and while paranormal is a nice "substitute" for the meantime, it can never really integrate the elements of high fantasy into the genre. Now, this book? Flawless. This book soared higher than my expectations. I could not put it down– I became so enthralled with the world of Ravka and the Grisha. It was riveting, captivating, and I immediately wanted more when it ended. Clearly, 400 pages of this book was not enough.
I loved all the characters. They were built-up so well, they were almost flesh and bone leaping off of the page. I was attached to all of them emotionally (with love and hatred!) and was gripped by each of their stories.
Alina is our main character, and she's smart, funny and sharp: she totally gets her way. However, what I liked the most about her was the fact that at the beginning of this book and during the beginnings of the Grisha training, she was really weak. Completely unlike what YA heroines are made out to be. It was so easy to relate to her because of this, and I had total respect for her during the entire novel. She makes decisions, both good and bad, and because of how connected I felt with her, I could see why she did what she did. Mal was a frustrating yet very interesting character. Obviously, I was attracted to him as Alina was, but he annoyed me so much during the beginning–just as our MC did!– because he was just so cocky, so forward and confident that he was the absolute best at what he did. Later on though, he's so sweet and protective, and trust me, you'll fall head over heels for him! The Darkling was truly a character like none other. I think, and agreeing with Veronica Roth's blurb on the cover of this book, he's truly "unlike anything I've ever read". He's got that charm, yet he radiates power and strikes fear into people, making them follow him. His manner towards Alina though was interesting– he actually began to treat her as an equal... and then of course, something very interesting happens. Nope, no revealing what it is, but trust me, I could see why (as I said before) she did what she did, because even if I was presented with that "choice" I would have taken it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, the world of Ravka is so enticing. The whole world building descriptions of this fantasy is superbly done. I was so immersed with the beautiful and dark descriptions of this world and the Shadow Fold, and the Grisha especially. It all gives me shivers and tingles just thinking about it. The only part I was left confused with was the ending. I had no idea what happened, or if what I thought had happened, I have no idea how the story would continue. Nonetheless, I'm still very eager to find out!
What more can I say? Shadow and Bone is one of the best reads I've read this year. I'm absolutely freaking out and dying to get my hands on the next one, because clearly my dose of Mal is not enough. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing author, and I'll be definitely be first in line to get whatever she writes....more