Sam's Reviews > The Bone Season

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
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Jul 04, 13

bookshelves: arc-or-galley, fantasy, fantasy-or-paranormal, dystopian, romance
Read from May 17 to 21, 2013

Although nothing significantly ground-breaking, Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season is an intricately built and wonderfully absorbing first novel (in an expected series of seven). It draws together some familiar concepts – everything from clairvoyance, otherworldly races and the imagined dystopian nature of futuristic society – and weaves them into an inventive and richly crafted story. There is room for improvement, granted, particularly where the technicalities of the world-building are concerned (info-dumping is a slight weakness here), but, on the whole, The Bone Season proves to be a pleasingly firm introduction to Shannon’s work as a writer.

We begin in Scion-controlled London, in I Cohort, Section 4, home to Seven Dials and a segment of the criminal underworld. Little time is wasted in laying out the foundations, including the workings and hierarchy of the syndicate, the oppressive stance on clairvoyance, and the history of Scion establishment. We touch on everything from Jack the Ripper and Edward VII, flavoured oxygen, and the Night and Sunlight Vigilance Divisions. It’s a densely fashioned creation – one that is not the easiest to follow or to fully comprehend to begin with – but gratifyingly thorough and complex, nonetheless. The first three or four chapters, however (and a couple of others further on), do become victim to occasional amounts of detail-overload. There is a slight pattern of stating, rather than subtle storytelling, and an almost rigid need to explain as many of concepts as possible in one go. Despite this (and perhaps even a little surprisingly), the world-building remains utterly engrossing and fascinating throughout. The minor flaws are easily overshadowed by far more compelling aspects of the story.

As the focus shifts from London to Oxford and the Colony of Sheol I (not too far into the book), the Race of Rephaim and the orders of clairvoyance take centre stage. The fantasy elements fully step into the light here, and the connection between dreamscapes and æther slowly falls into place. It’s in Oxford that we meet Arcturus Warden, our main character’s Rephaite keeper, and it’s here where things really begin to get interesting. 19-year-old Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, one of the rarest kinds of voyants, and when she is captured and taken to Sheol I, Warden becomes her master and her trainer.

It isn’t too difficult to predict what happens next between these two (but if you’d rather not, stop reading now – the rest of this paragraph may contain mild spoilers). When slight aspects of dominance and submission are introduced to a fictional relationship, it is so very easy for authors to steer into the wrong direction and alienate the reader completely. Samantha Shannon, thankfully, handles the gradual progression between Warden and Paige perfectly. It is subtle and carefully paced, never rushed or completely unbelievable, and definitely not unappealing or challenging to root for. While the eventual outcome may not have stirred up the level of excitement that other romances have in the past, the situation here is more than likeable enough and only has the potential to improve and develop well over the course of the series. Paige and Warden are definitely as intriguing separately as they are together, with well-defined traits and distinct personalities making them vivid and memorable. Shannon clearly has her characters arcs mapped out well.

One thing that does concern me here is the length of the series – the main plot, although captivating and well-written, doesn’t yet feel significant enough to need that many books. But it is perhaps far too early to tell... All in all, The Bone Season did not disappoint, and as far as first instalments go, it is an imaginative and gripping one. Shannon shows exhilarating amounts of potential as a new author and I greatly look forward to following her writing career from this point forward.

(This review also appears on my blog)
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Reading Progress

05/17/2013 marked as: currently-reading
05/21/2013 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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Aa'Ishah Ooh, can't wait to see what you think! Happy reading! :)

message 2: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thank you! I'm really looking forward to it. :)

Aa'Ishah It looks really good, and something a little bit different. I hope you enjoy it. :)

message 4: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I hope so too! I've done my best to lower my expectations. Want to give it a fair shot. ;)

Aa'Ishah Hehe. Of course. Well, now that you've done that, the book must repay in kind and be amazing. ;)

message 6: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Are you planning to read this? I know it's up on NetGalley, but if you don't get a copy there, I don't mind sharing. :)

Aa'Ishah Oh, I had no idea! I haven't been on NetGalley as much recently, which is probably a good thing lol. But I just requested it, so we'll see what happens. Thanks for the offer, and for letting me know. :)

Melanie How is it so far?

message 9: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quite good. I'm not very far at all, and I'm still unsure about several things, but it's definitely interesting. :)

Aa'Ishah Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, I can't wait for your full review. Now I'm just refraining from clicking on the spoilers. ;)

I did get approved for this one, so hopefully I'll be able to start it in a few weeks, which I'm glad will still be in time for the release date lol. Exam prep taking up all my time!

message 11: by Sam (last edited May 23, 2013 11:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam They're not true spoilers, don't worry. :) I was so worried that I wouldn't like this one, so I'm really glad that it worked out! I can't wait to see what you think of it now. I hope it will be a nice post-exam treat. :)

Aa'Ishah That's what I was hoping you'd say. ;) Me too!

Thanks, so do I. :)

message 13: by Tandie (new) - added it

Tandie Sounds like a winner.

message 14: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I'm sure it won't work for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed it. Hope you do too if you choose to read it! :)

message 15: by Tandie (new) - added it

Tandie I knew you liked it! I saw that you added the next book in my feed.

message 16: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I did! I'm hoping the rest of the series is just as good, if not more. Six more books are planned at the moment...

message 17: by Tandie (new) - added it

Tandie Six! Wow. I hope I fall in love with it, then I can have a long term relationship with this series :-)

message 18: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Great review, Sam. Even with this complicated plot I'm still interested. :)

message 19: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks, Rachel! I hope it works out for you. :)

~Tina~ Wonderful review Sam! This one looks a bit intimidating on my e-reader so I'm gonna wait for it to come out, but I'm more excited after your review then I was before XD

message 21: by Sam (last edited Jul 04, 2013 11:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I don't think I could read a book like this as an e-copy, so waiting sounds like a good idea to me. I can't wait to see what you make of it though! :)

Henrietta The race of Rephaim - are these creatures from another dimension? I wonder what that has to do with clairvoyance and dreamscape... I think I'll have to read this to find out. Thank you, Sam!

Suzanne 7 books? All I can think is it'll most likely take me 7 years to read this series lol

message 24: by Christina (new) - added it

Christina Sam wrote: "I don't think I could read a book like this as an e-copy, so waiting sounds like a good idea to me. I can't wait to see what you make of it though! :)"

I read it as an e-galley. It was hard flipping back to the charts & map (and had I known there was a glossary too, that could've helped). After a while, I gave up on that. And you're right about the info-dump world-building, and I'm not sure I still really know how to explain the technicalities of the world to someone else... and yet, it was a wonderful read. How you've described Paige/Warden sounds just about right to me too. Did you have a favorite scene?

message 25: by Alyssa (new) - added it

Alyssa Seven books!?!?!?!??!?!?! Mother of god....

message 26: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Henrietta, they are. I think it was called the Netherworld. :) I hope you enjoy this when you get to read it!

Suzanne -- It feels quite odd being at the start of a series this long actually. Normally I will begin at least a few books in, but I'm hoping the long wait will be more than worth it. It might just take us 7 years. ;)

Christina, I'm glad you enjoyed it too! I relied quite heavily on the glossary and maps at the start, so I can't imagine it would have been too easy to read as an e-galley. It's great that it worked out for you, though. My favourite scene? Between Paige and Warden? (view spoiler) What about you?

Alyssa - A lot of people have been echoing the same sentiment on my blog! It's interesting to see actually. I guess a long series isn't always instantly appealing.

message 27: by Christina (new) - added it

Christina Ooh, yeah, I agree with you, and I don't think I have one for them either. I meant in the whole book :). (view spoiler)

A long series isn't that appealing unless it's like what they did with Richelle Mead's VA series and pub the books ~ six months apart. Waiting a whole year for another installment? Well, unless it's Harry Potter, it's hard to keep the same momentum, I think.

message 28: by Sonia (new)

Sonia Wonderful review, Sam! :-) It sounds a complicating yet rich story. :-D

message 29: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Sonia wrote: "Wonderful review, Sam! :-) It sounds a complicating yet rich story. :-D"

That describes it well! Thank you, Sonia. If you choose to give this one a try, I hope you like it.

Christina wrote: "Ooh, yeah, I agree with you, and I don't think I have one for them either. I meant in the whole book :). [spoilers removed]

A long series isn't that appealing unless it's like what they did with R..."

(view spoiler)

And I definitely agree with you about a long series. Unless all the books are of an equally high or even better standard, I imagine a lot of readers will lose interest if we're made to wait too long. I plan to check out the next couple, and if I'm not still 100% invested at that point, it's pretty unlikely that I'll see the series through to the end.

You should see the number of unfinished series on my shelves. ;)

message 30: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Wow, Sam! This sounds really interesting. Wonderful review!

message 31: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks, Laura! I definitely thought it was. :)

Lady Danielle It's comforting to read you enjoyed this. I've been seeing a lot of negative ratings on this and I was becoming nervous to get my hands on The Bones Season. I'm not anymore. Lovely review, Sam.

message 33: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks, Danielle. Like all books, it's unlikely to work for everyone. I personally really enjoyed it and hope you do too! :)

message 34: by Ameriie (new) - added it

Ameriie I enjoyed this one, too, Sam. And I loved the romance between Warden and Page and how Ms. Shannon developed it. After a somewhat bumpy beginning, I became fully invested about a third of the way in. Very interested to see how it plays out if it truly goes to seven books.

message 35: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I think the general consensus so far seems to be that the beginning is the weakest. I definitely thought the world-building could have been better executed to start off with too. But I'm glad you enjoyed this! I agree, it'll be really interesting to see if the author sticks with seven books, and if she can make it work.

message 36: by Roza (new) - added it

Roza Dimka Awesome review Sam, I'll be reading this one soon now.

message 37: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks, Roza. I hope you like it! :)

message 38: by Roza (new) - added it

Roza Dimka Yeah, me too. :)

message 39: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I wonder if this one would be retrieved better by those who haven't read any of the Potter books or those in that genre

message 40: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam It can't really be compared to Harry Potter (as they're both quite different books) so I don't think that would have much of an impact. And non-fantasy readers in general? I don't know. Though I guess the less of this genre that they've read, the more likely it might be for them to enjoy The Bone Season. Not always the case though. :)

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