Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. 
Number of Pages: 368
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Ellie, age 15

If I had to sum up Shadow and Bone in a single word, that word would probably be fierce. The book never seemed to let up and had a crazy pace that left me questioning almost everything I knew about the characters. The setting and plot twists were impressive, and the world building was very well done.

I am happy to report that Alina, the main character, is not your typical YA heroine. She is not chased after by boys, not model-gorgeous, and certainly not shy. She is independent, sassy, and wonderfully flawed.  She struggles with what she wants versus what she knows and makes mistakes. I found this refreshing and could relate to her easily, something I cannot say for many books that are popular in YA fiction right now.

I also have to rave about the gorgeous world building. Bardugo does not provide a simple explanation for the pseudo-Northern Asia world. Instead, she immerses the reader in the world of Ravka, letting the reader explore the beauty and the complexity of both the Grisha and the peasant ways of life.  The differences between Ravka and our world are elegantly woven into a surprisingly tasteful story that I loved.

However, this book is not without faults. As the book went on, I felt that it became a bit rushed. The ending disappointed me for two reasons. Firstly, the villain was ruined for me because of how evil Bardugo made them. Originally, this villain was, if not compassionate, at least understanding and kind. In the end of the story, no trace of the villain’s former goodness remained, and it was a bit unsettling and random to have a good character become bad. The ending was disappointing because I do not feel that Alina stayed in character when making a pretty big decision. Instead of being level headed and real, I found that she started to resemble the cookie-cutter YA heroines. Meh.

But overall, I was impressed by this book. I had originally thought I would not like it much, but after reading it I know it is on my list of favorites. Despite my complaints, I truly enjoyed the debut novel of Leigh Bardugo and cannot wait until the next one!

This book is out in stores June 5th, 2012! 
Visit the author's site to see the map of Ravka and how to speak the language!!! 
Buy Hardcover

Happy reading! 
Ellie, age 15


  1. Ellie...your review is incredible!!! Great job, and keep up the good work!!!
    The Kolstads

  2. Ellie,

    Your well written review was very impressive. I would expect it to encourage young readers to put this book on their reading lists. Hope you do more reviews.


  3. Great review. I haven't read this sort of fiction but I am now interested. Thanks for your insight.

  4. I am usually a non-fiction reader, however your review interests me enough that I may have to change my reading habits.


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