Why did I wait so long to read Leigh Bardugo's wonderful Shadow and Bone? I bought it the day it came out but somehow it just kept getting pushed back. I love it.
Something about this book sneaked up on me. Admittedly, it had been a while since I'd read the description so I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I remembered very little. When I first started it I was a little worried it would become girl discovers power-formulaic but I was completely enamored with the setting and the world. Not that I really thought about stopping. But somehow, at some point I went from casually reading it to being irritable at work because I wanted to be reading and forgoing eating on break so that I could sit in the stairwell and read it. I had gotten completely sucked in.
It started me a little later when I realized toward the end that Alina doesn't have a particularly distinctive character. It's usually the first thing I notice and love about a book. She has her moments of sarcasm and wit but she's not particularly snarky. She seemed to enjoy cartography to an extent but it wasn't something she loved doing. She doesn't really have any hobbies. But I love her. I love that she has a very quiet strength. I love that she's so willing to believe the good in people and that she holds on so tight to her bittersweet childhood with Mal. Yes, she cries but she does so when it actually makes sense for her to being crying. I came to really enjoy the sort of every girl quality about her. It made the whole plot work better for me. It also makes it much easier to fall into her character.
Mal. Oh Mal, Mal, Mal. I kind of loved him right on the spot. I do seem to have a soft spot for the best friend, though. I really liked that he didn't find her and say that he had loved her all along but instead that he realized that saving her wasn't just in return for her saving him. And I love that he's gruff but still has the same love of childhood that Alina has.
For some reason that I still can't quite put my finger on, I really loved the scene between Aline and Mal when she asks him to kill her. It could, and should, have been a bit melodramatic. The idea of the scene isn't a particularly new one but something about this version just hit all of the right notes with me. I found their last night in the prison, similarly heartbreaking. The story of how Alina got her scar blew me away. I sort of expected it to have been some sort of childhood pact between the two of them, like a blood bond but I absolutely loved it being from the moment that she realized that she loved him. The image of the blue cup shard is just really striking.
And, I'm not going to lie, with all of the hints that Mal is more than he seems, I was expecting him to kill the stag and place the antlers on Alina to stop the Darkling from doing it. That definitely would have created an interesting dynamic. But I'm not disappointed that it didn't happen.
I really wanted to be taken in and seduced by the Darkling. I can see why Alina was and they had a few fan-yourself type moments but at the same time he never sat well with me. I knew there was something off about him. I just wasn't sure of the details. And even with him not sitting right with me I am still impressed by how subtle of a character he is. I was still drawn to him a little even when I knew he was bad. Perhaps it's the 'he's really bad but cares about the girl' tool that is used so frequently. I don't know but it is awesome.
But he's still no Mal.
I really liked Genya and I am really hoping that she'll find a way back into the story. We got a few hints about the Darkling saving her more than Alina knows and I kind of want to hear all about it. I want to know how she got such unerring faith in the Darkling.
There's something about this Russian but not setting that I just loved. Leigh Bardugo does such an excellent job making everything seem dark and a little dirty and rough but without taking it too far and describing every speck of dirt or mud puddle. But with it all is this amazing sense of just wonder. She bases their powers in philosophy and science and it works so well in making it all believable. I am incredibly impressed.
I could go on and on but I'll stop.
I'm sure it's no surprise that I give Shadow and Bone a rating of: Beyond Epic.
I cannot wait for Siege and Storm. Shadow and Bone had an ending that could have just been a (bit of an unsatisfying but still workable) stand-alone ending but I am glad that it's not.
What did you ducks think of it?
Next I'll finally read my first John Green. I am going to, predictably, start with The Fault in Our Stars.
P.S. I want Hebel Design's Morozova's collar so badly!