It’s official. J.K Rowling has forever ruined Young Adult fantasy novels for me. And by that I mean, I’m incapable of reading one by another author without drawing parallels to the Harry Potter series.
Now, with that being said…
This book was FUCKING AWESOME!
Finally, goddamn it—after not being able to get into a fantasy (my favorite genre) novel all year long, I sat down to read Shadow & Bone. Seriously, a million and one points for Gryffindor courtesy of one Ms. Leigh Bardugo for single-handedly pulling me out of my reader’s block. I have no doubt that when I go to check out her author website or profile one of her listed influences and/or favorite authors will be J.K Rowling. And unlike in the past with books inspired by one of my two favorite YA fantasy authors (see: Cassandra Clare) Shadow & Bone is refreshingly original. Just as the blurb on the front cover states, it’s “unlike anything I’ve ever read.”
Alina Starkov is no special snowflake, she’s anything but a Mary Sue. Although she’s an orphan, like most protagonist in YA novels, rather than a childhood spent
living underneath the stairs in a cupboard alone, her misery has company—found in her best and only friend Mal. She’s not some moping, superficial teenage girl longing to be in with the popular crowd. Alina has far more important things to focus on, like being a refugee in an unwinnable war against these awful, beasty things (volcra) who feast on human flesh. Oh, and of course the moment she (and everyone else) realizes she has the power to stop said beings—that she’s the most special of the special, the key to saving her people—she promptly refuses to accept that shit because unlike the other female protags who are not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence, she is NOT convinced by the words or admiration of the dangerously sexy (and also sexily dangerous) Darkling.
I managed to find:
Dobby the Elf
The moment Harry begs not to be placed in Slytherin
The moment Harry walks to his sacrificial death, subsequently shielding his friends from Voldemort’s wrath.
And there’s even the bitterness stemmed from Harry assuming his friends ignored him all summer when they didn’t write him or respond to any of his letters.
DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?
This is a huge problem that I have—always comparing other fantasy series to my all-time favorite story of magic and angst-filled youth. The thing is though….
Shadow & Bone holds up to the comparison. In fact, despite the subtle parallels that, frankly, I could probably find in fantasy story written before Rowling’s HP—there’s absolutely nothing to complain about it.
Seriously….I can’t think of a single thing that I disliked about this book….other than the fact that I refused to cop book two until I tried book one first and now I have to wait for it to arrive.
Oh, and did I mention that Alina is a certified SMART ASS?
Alina is sassy—she says whatever is on her mind, sometimes even when she knows damn well she shouldn’t. And her heroic nature, wanting to save her people doesn’t feel forced or you know… annoying as Hell. In fact, here’s her first line of dialogue in the book: “Why don’t you watch your fat feet?” She says this to an armed soldier—the green giant to her Stuart Little.
Needless to say, I had a feeling me and Alina were going to be besties from the very beginning.
I can’t wait to read book two.
4.5 stars of awesome for this one, Folks.