Book Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Posted May 21, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 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.

Review: Shadow and Bone was nothing like I expected it to be. And yet, at the same time, it was exactly like I expected it to be. Or at least hoped it would be. It absolutely blew me away. The creativity and originality that went into this young adult novel was just…there are no words. But I will try to express how much I loved this book the best that I can. It’s not easy. It was truly a colorful parrot in a sea of crows. 

The world-building was out-of-this-world intense. It’s very much a learn-as-you-go-along book; it takes awhile for you to learn everything, but the depths that the world-building goes to are unreachable. From the magic, to the different classes of Grisha, all the different towns, the scenery, the descriptive passages—even the clothing and food was developed to the utmost detail. But it never felt overdone. I never felt like I was reading too much description. There is a map on the author’s website if you are interested in seeing the world as she envisioned it to be. And it is spectacular. I have not read a book this special in a really long time.

I know that she drew a lot of her inspiration for this book from Russian culture. And to be honest, before I started reading, it turned me off. It’s just not a country that I was ever interested in visiting. But I made a mistake. A huge one. While I still don’t really want to visit Russia, the unique ways in which the author used the subtle nuances of the culture truly made all the difference in this book. It’s something new in young adult literature that I have not seen before. And because of that, this is a new author I am very much interested in following. I trust her imagination and where she is going with it. She’s brilliant!

As for the story, not much I can or want to say there. To me this is one of those books that needs to be experienced blindly. I don’t want to spoil anything. Just go along for the ride and enjoy it. It did start a bit slow for me, but give it a chance and don’t quit. This book was just so different. Because of the way it was written, even when there wasn’t much going on, I was never really bored. One thing I can tell you? There isn’t a cliffhanger. This is a series, so expect some hanging loose ends, but there will be no throwing the book across the room. As a temporary reprieve, I found the ending pretty satisfying. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I ADORED the world-building. This is pretty much my top read of 2012 so far. And I am not thrilled about how long I have to wait for the next one.

16 responses to “Book Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. You forgot your little globe image! Anyway, totally glad you loved this. It’s moving steadily up my TBR pile and I’ve heard only amazingness.


  2. I love reading about Russia so this has definitely been a book I thought I would read, I’ve heard that she didn’t quite get things right in terms of the language but if you gave it 5 stars, I need to check it out!

    • I’ve heard a few of the same things, and you may be right. Masculine v. feminine and the such. I can only rate based on my knowledge of the subject (which isn’t much), so I really loved it. I thought it was a great world to escape into.

  3. I think that’s my problem with series. When they rock your world you have to wait for more. I have my fingers crossed for the giveaway. I so want to read this one. AMAZING cover too!!

  4. Love this review, Kara! Since this book was first announced, it immediately rocketed to my Top Three Most Anticipated Reads of 2012. It sounds so unique and creative, and I absolutely adore Russian culture. It’s just so different! One of my Bucket List items is to one day see the Kremlin. Their castles remind me of Candyland! 😉

    Leigh will be here in 2 weeks, so I will have to wait to snag my copy, but you can bet that as soon as I have it in my grubby little hands, I’ll start reading! 🙂

  5. I love when a book has that amazing world building like you described here. And I have to admit that I also was a little bit turned off in the beginning about the Russian culture inspiration. But I definitely want to read this one now! Great review! 🙂

  6. Samantha R.

    I’ve heard very mixed reviews from some bloggers I really respect, but comparisons to Snyder’s Study series have me psyched for this one.

  7. I loved this book, so amazing and very unique. I quickly pass up any book nowadays that has to do with vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc or with kick ass women who are necromancers, supernatural bounty hunters, etc…it’s all so overdone. This book however was a total delight, very unique world and characters, superb pacing and lush descriptions, I didn’t want it to end and I can’t wait for the next book to come out!

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