Amy's Reviews > Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jun 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: owned, fantasy, first-person-pov

*This review first appeared on my blog

Summary (via 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.

The Good:

The premise of the book is really interesting. I enjoy reading books having to do with magic and political intrigue. It's also fun reading about a character who finds out about their powers later in life.

There are some pretty fascinating supporting characters, especially the Darkling. Morally ambiguous characters are always a welcome addition.

Some of the descriptions do a good job at immersing you into the setting. This is most evident in the descriptions of the Fold.

A lot of the Grisha powers are really cool, and the winter fete scene was a fun passage.

The Bad:

The writing can be inconsistent at times. There were certain passages (particularly the prologue and some of the fighting scenes) that were great, fast-paced, and down right immersing. Other places, though, were less enjoyable.

I'm not really a fan of the first person POV, which is so often done poorly. Combine that with an insecure protagonist who's surrounded by beautiful people, and it can be like reading a teenage girl's diary. At least Alina Starkov isn't as horrible as Bella Swan.

The Russian influences weren't always handled very well, especially when it came to the language. Now, my knowledge of Russian and Russian culture is pretty limited, but I know enough to realize that Alina having the surname Starkov, which is male, wouldn't happen. This is repeated with at least one other (male) character, but it probably happened more than twice. Also, apparently "Ana Kuya" means "What the fuck?" in Russian. I mean, I guess it could fit that character's personality, but that's stretching it a little too far, isn't it? The point is, if you're going to use a real culture to influence your book so heavily (large parts of the vocabulary, landscape, and general culture of the society in SaB borrows from Russian language and culture), even (especially?) a fantasy novel, then at least bother to do some research.

There isn't nearly enough magic shown. Even though Alina was a beginner and wouldn't have seen much advanced magic in her classes, she was surrounded by advanced students. We should have seen more cool magic.

The Darkling ends up becoming so...disappointing. His character showed such promise (and was much more interesting than some of the other stuff that goes on in this book), and in the end, he's just another one-dimensional, fiercer version of Edward Fucking Cullen. :(

Final Thoughts:

Look, I know it may seem otherwise, but about 80% of the book was pretty good, 15% was pretty blah, and 5% almost made me put it down for good. Shadow and Bone is a good read if you go into it with low expectations, have a few hours to kill, and just want something a little dark and a little exciting. It's not really a bad book. On the scale of Bella Swan to Arya Stark, I'd probably place Alina Starkov at around the halfway point. Not too horrible, but not really great. Actually, that's my final judgement of Shadow and Bone: Not too horrible, but not really great.


~4/5 stars, depending on your expectations.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Shadow and Bone.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

June 16, 2012 – Shelved
August 31, 2012 – Started Reading
August 31, 2012 – Shelved as: owned
August 31, 2012 –
page 1
August 31, 2012 –
page 10
2.79% "ugh…first person pov :/"
August 31, 2012 –
page 179
September 1, 2012 –
page 279
September 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
September 9, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 9, 2012 – Shelved as: first-person-pov

No comments have been added yet.