Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Review

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo 
Buy this book: Amazon  / Book Depository 

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?
I have such a horrible habit of putting off reading books that everyone seems to be raving about. It's not entirely my fault, hype has a habit of making our expectations for a book completely skyrocket, which can lead to the book disappointing and who would want to do that to themselves. Shadow and Bone was a book that was better than I had expected, as well as being different to what I had expected and it was also just what I needed. I'm not kicking myself for waiting so long though, now I have the ability to binge read the entire series.

Mal & Alina = Anastasia & Dimitri to me.
It feels like Leigh Bardugo has already earned herself a spot on my auto-buy author list. This book was superbly written and the writing style was one that completely worked for me. I could not put the book down, it moves along at such a fast pace that I had to keep reading because there was no way I couldn't find out what was going to happen next. The pacing worked for me because the action seems to be at a constant steady flow, there was no point where I felt bored or like the story was lacking action. You also learn more about the world as the book goes along, which means that you don't have to deal with any horrible info-dumps.

The book grabbed me from the very first page and I especially loved the world that Bardugo created. Ravka has a very Russian feel to it, which appeals to me since I've been fascinated with Russia since I was a child and I used to obsessively watch Anastasia. I actually found that a few of the characters in Shadow and Bone made me think of Anastasia characters. Alina reminded me of Anya, the orphan girls who see's herself as really plain and in no way special. Mal really reminded me of Dimitri, he had the looks and the confidence. So of course I was Team Mal all the way, Anastasia and Dimitri have to end up together! And then the Apparat made me think of Rasputin, but more like the real life Rasputin then the crazy, zombie-type from the film.

Alina was an okay heroine, but I really did get fed up of listening to her doubt herself and her looks over and over again. She started to sound like a broken record and I just wanted her to shut up already. I did enjoy seeing her transformation from normal orphan to Grisha and the journey that takes her on. She doubts her powers and her ability as much as she doubts herself in anything else, so it was good to see her work towards overcoming that. I am a total sucker when it comes to the childhood friendship turning into romance storyline (Unless you're name is Gale). So I was Team Mal from the very beginning and just wanted that ship to sail already. Mal won me over very quickly, even if he isn't the most solid of love interests.

angry animated GIF The Darkling was probably my biggest issue with this book. I HATED HIM! I am so fed up of these characters, the ones who are complete arseholes but everyone seems to love. It's not like they love to hate them, they love to love them and they ship them with the main character. NO! The Darkling was awful, creepy and I just wanted him to hurry up and die. The whole Alina/Darkling romance didn't work at all, I don't see why anyone would ship that. The characters seemed to barely have any conversations together before the Darkling is suddenly trying to kiss Alina and saying she's all he can think about. So maybe he's a fascinating villain, but he's still a villain, still a douche and in no way a love interest.


4/5 Butterflies

arrested development animated GIF

I've been really struggling to review and rate this book, which is entirely my fault because I've waited until I've read all three books. BIG MISTAKE! My feelings for the series changed as I went from one book to the other and I feel it's changing my review. I feel like my review for Shadow and Bone would have been a lot different if I'd reviewed it straight after finishing it, something I will be remembering to do with books from now on. So know that I really did enjoy this book, it was a brilliant YA fantasy and gave me everything I needed. My only real issue with the book was the Alina/Darkling romance that seemed very forced and didn't work for me. But I loved the world building, the magic system, the pacing and the action. I finished the book and immediately piked up book two, something you're definitely going to want to do. 

30 comments:

  1. I really liked this as well but for some reason never continued the series even though I do own them all. I really should read them.

    Great review and I am so glad you tried this and it lived up to the hype.

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    1. I think it did live up to the hype to an extent, but my feelings for it have changed after completing the series. But I think that's only because I didn't enjoy the next two books very much.

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  2. HAHAHAHA OMG I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOUR ABOUT THE DARKLING. I just don't really give a shit about him. I was soooo bored of him by the third book, but thankfully he actually appears way less than I expected him to in the third book! :D It was hard when I was reading these books because everyone else was always gushing about him and I tried really hard to like him but I just couldn't.

    I actually wasn't a huge fan of the first book in general, but the series got better and better for me and by the third book I absolutely loved it.

    TEAM MAL IS THE BEST TEAM THOUGH RIGHT.

    Cynthia @ Afterwritten

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    1. I know! I was so surprised by how little he's actually in them, but so pleased by that. I just couldn't stand him, which I felt was the whole point because he is the bad guy. There's no way he could be considered a good guy. Or a shippable guy. URGH! I was just waiting for someone to kill him, haha.

      I seem to be the opposite. I enjoyed book one, but the series got worse for me as it progressed.

      TEAM MAL ALL DAY! :)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree with you about the Darling though. I really don't understand why do many people love him. Mall is far, far better.

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    1. He really is. He's not a perfect love interest by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that he's a nicer person, has more to offer and isn't completely psychotic.

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  4. I'm so with you on the Darkling, I just don't see the romance. Yes, he's an interesting character I think, one you can really get your claws into, but romantic interest? What? He just tried to use Alina for his own gain, he - he's not a good guy, at all, how can you like him?! It's like the alien guy in The 5th Wave all over again.. But yes, I'm so with you, I'm sweetened by Mal and Alina and the whole world is really very very good, great review :)

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    1. Thank you! :) I really don't understand all the love for these completely creepy guys. Not a fan. I hope this just means that we're sane individuals who don't want killers for boyfriends. GO US! ;)

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  5. I'm so happy you finally picked up the trilogy! :D
    Yes, the world Bardugo created is soooo unique and interesting. That was definitely my main love of the trilogy.
    But on the romance I'm the complete opposite of you. I agree in that I also love a friendship to romance relationship. The exception is here. I absolutely hate Mal. I didn't right from the beginning, he was alright. But by the end of the book I wanted to stab him. UGH!
    I did ship The Darkling/Alina BUT I was actually hoping more that she would just be single. She's a strong girl. She didn't need a man. Anyhow, spoilers for anyone that might read this.
    I look forward to seeing the rest of trilogy reviews. Siege and Storm is easily my fave. Strumhond might have a lot to do with that. :)
    Happy New Year, Charnell!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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    1. It really is so great and I love how Russian it is
      STURMHOND! I LOVE HIM! I LOVE HIM! I LOVE HIM! I'm a shipper of Sturmhond and himself. HAHA! :) That guy is brilliant.

      I didn't think Mal was an amazing love interest, he's actually pretty flawed. But of the two, I ship him over the Darkling. I don't get the Darkling at all, but a lot of other do.

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  6. I haven't read this one either but it is more so because I don't own the books yet and have to stop buying, according to my mum. But they do sound like promising books that better as they go along. I like the Anastasia comparison as well ^^

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    1. It totally reminded me of Anastasia in so many ways, but that was something I loved about it. I hope you enjoy it if and when you get to read it! :)

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  7. I read this aaaaages ago and somehow never got around to the next two books. <-- story of my life. GAH. BUT I WILL MORE ONE DAY. I actually am so blurry on the details, I don't even remember Darkling/Alina being a possible thing?! Didn't he put a collar on her and control her to do bad stuff? Or something? Sounds abusive and not shippy to me. *shrugs* Maybe I'll need to reread before I dive into the entire series.....

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    1. Haha, I do that a lot. But... thankfully this time I binge read them. Sadly, I wasn't the biggest fan of the series as a whole. It wasn't terrible, it just dragged on a bit and probably would have been better to be a two book series rather than three. HE DOES! He does terrible, horrible stuff and people SHIP IT?!? :S I'm confused.

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  8. I also tend to put popular books off because of the hype or expectations. I'm terrible because I actually really liked the Darkling/Alina romance at first xD Before the truth came out at least, and he started using her. I still think he's a fascinating character and villain. I don't really ship Alina with anyone, I didn't care too much for Mal after S&S. Still haven't read R&R though. Nice review!

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    1. I think Mal is a very flawed character and love interest, but if she had to be with one or the other than I'd pick Mal. The Darkling just creeps me out far too much for me to ever want to ship him with anyone. R&R didn't work for me... at all.

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  9. I gave this a 4/5 too. Only for the writing though which I loved. My problem with this book was I disliked everyone. There wasn't a character I enjoyed spending time with haha. I couldn't understand where all this love for The Darkling was coming from because he's terrible. I have read the second book, and loved Sturmhond, so I will read the last one purely to find out what happens with him. I'm definitely excited to read more of her work, I just hope I like the characters more...

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    1. EXACTLY!!! That is kind of how I felt. The only character I can say that I actually loved was Sturmhond, he one me over straight away in book two. Everyone else was kind of annoying or completely flawed or crazy. I'll be reading more from her, but I hope it doesn't disappoint.

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  10. YAY! I'm super stoked that you enjoyed this one. Part of what attracted me the most to this one is the Russian feel. Like you I've always been fascinated by Russia. In fact, when it features in YA, I read it. No questions asked. The Darkling is probably my favourite character, but definitely not as a love interest. There's a darkness (oh god, yeah, 2015 is not starting out very intelligently LOL) to him and I don't know, I feel like he's past redemption if that makes sense? But curious to see how you'll take the trilogy as it unfolds. Bardugo is definitely an auto-buy author for me though! :D Lovely review, Charnell! <3 x

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    1. Yes, he's a perfect villain in a lot of ways. But I feel a deep hatred for him that I can't explain. I think it's the fact I'd heard amazing things about him and people seeing him as a love interest. I'd expected him to be a more likeable character, so it was weird for me when that didn't pan out. I enjoyed the series as a whole, but wasn't really blown away by it. Book three felt a little bit like a train wreck at times.

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  11. I loved Mal and Alina! I hate to admit this but I actually liked The Darkling at first and then I hated him, for rather obvious reasons. lol

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    1. I'd heard such love for him that I wasn't expecting how evil he turned out to be. I think that's probably why I hated his character so much, I was expecting to love him.

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  12. I had to skim your review because I've yet to read this series too. I actually bought the audiobook of the second book because of the buy one get one sale on audible but I obviously can't listen to it until I get book 1! Gah! From your rating though, I can see that I made the right choice hitting that 1-click button on this series. I can't wait to get started! Thanks Charnell :)

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    1. It's a great start to a series and has such an interesting and unique world. I really hope you enjoy it once you get to read it.

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  13. I am totally with you on the first book - after everyone's raves I kind of expected it to be well, insta-love for me you know? But Alina I found annoying, and Darkling's assholery wasn't something I was keen for. So I haven't read the rest of the series, although I feel like I need to. Great review Charnell, I'm glad you found something to love in this series.

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    1. It just wasn't as amazing as I had been expecting, which was probably down to the fact that I found it hard to really like any of the characters. I did enjoy book two because it introduced a character that I completely and utterly loved. But the series as a whole wasn't one I loved as much as everybody else, it was just okay for me.

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  14. Ooooh, I love this series. I didn't hate the Alina/Darkling thing as much as you did, but I agree with the rest of your review. The Apparat was so creepy! And I seriously love Sturmhond. A LOT. So glad you (mostly) enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of the next two books.

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    1. He was so creepy and definitely reminded me of Rasputin from Anastasia, with the description of how he looked. STURMHOND <3 I was so happy when he came in book two, finally a character in the book that I could actually love.

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  15. Glad you enjoyed it! I really liked this one too, and I felt the exact same way…why was everyone loving The Darkling? And not as a villain (he makes a great villain), but as a love interest??? Never made any sense to me. At all. I'm a Mal fan as well. Even though you waited a long time to read this, it's great because you can binge-read the whole series!! ~Pam

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    1. I KNOW! I would have understood if their love for him was because he was such a good villain. Not because they thought he was the most romantic guy ever. He's creepy. NOT! I'm a fan of Mal in comparison to him, although I do admit that he isn't the best love interest. He has a lot more to offer than the Darkling though.

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