Shadow and Bone

by Leigh Bardugo

Cover Beauty Score: 9 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: A young orphaned girl named Alina Starkov grows up in a Russian-esque fantasy realm is drafted into the King's army with her best friend (a convincingly roguish boy... obviously also an orphan). After a brush with death and nearly losing her bestie, Mal, Alina finds a mysterious power within herself that sets her apart from the regular soldiers and elevates her to the rank of Grisha - the sorcerers that also serve the king's army. Torn away from Mal and her soldier life, Alina has to figure things out with her new powers and this whole situation where she is the chosen one sent to save the kingdom from doom.

My Reaction: I thought this book was great! I was very impressed with the writing and the story. It was very original in terms of what you find out there in the YA. Sometimes you just yearn for a well done fantasy and I felt like Shadow and Bone really delivered. Alina is a hero that you feel like you can really get behind... she has some guts and sticks up for herself, but I did think she's a little caught up on Mal. I was excited to see her develop and leave him behind for the Darkling (who was a phenomenally attractive character) who helped her grow, I felt.

But then Bardugo just plopped Mal back in there like nothing had happened. I would have really liked to get to know him a little bit better before suddenly having to jump on his ship. He's just all of a sudden there and like "oh yeah... I guess I loved you all along... sorry about that whole sleeping with the entire army and grishas thing..." without ever explaining why Alina should love him in the first place.

The action was very good and I felt like there was a sufficient amount of gore to support the darkness of the tale. Did I enjoy the highschool feel of the training camp for the Grishas? Meh... not really... but I guess it makes sense if that's your target. There was fantasy and science and romance galore, so that made me a happy camper.

Ultimately I saw the story going in a completely different direction than it ended up, and I kind of feel like I was super excited about it because of where I THOUGHT it was going to lead. Then by the end of I was just bummed out because the characters ended up being a bit flat. Bardugo leads us into the promise of complicated characterization and never really followed through.

But hey! I loved the writing and the concept of the story so that will keep me reading well into books 2 and 3 where I hope to get a little more of what I wanted... Mainly I just want to see the Darkling again. Damn... I am such a sucker for a redemption story... Here's hoping!

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