Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Square Fish
Format: Paperback, 372 pages
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Series: The Grisha, #1
Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.
I've neglected reading this fantasy novel for a long time in fear of not loving it because of all the hype that it's gotten. In fact, I've had it on my shelf since last year. But let me tell you now that the hype is well deserved for a good reason. I ended up falling in love with it!
Alina Starkov and Mal Oretse have been inseparable since being raised in the same orphanage. Now all grown up, they now serve in the First Army. Alina works as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker. During a mission, they get attacked when they are crossing the Fold, where monsters called the Volcra reside, and Alina unleashes a power she never knew she had. So she's taken away to be trained alongside The Grisha that are led by The Darkling. But taken alongside these people is not comforting to Alina as she fears she does not belong. But she might hold the solution to everything.
I was really surprised by how easy it was to understand the world building. It's really difficult to explain because of how complex it is! There was quite some details being thrown in but I was able to take it all in and keep up. I loved how the entire world is completely made up but it's also based and influenced by Russia. And the map is so badass. I need it in poster format so that I can look at it everyday.
I was having trouble connecting with the characters. It's not that I didn't like them but I just didn't exactly click with them. I did warm up to them the farther I read so I'm hoping I'll love them more in the second book.
Alina is a very warm-hearted, quiet girl. She's been called plain, sickly, and skinny-looking at times, which has made me want to defend her honor. But I love that she doesn't really care about her appearances or what people think of her. She also cares a lot about her best friend as he's all she has. I enjoyed how she just kept evolving and how she wasn't the same weak girl everyone knew her to be.
Mal is the best friend and he is very good looking, a bit cocky, and has been with many females. He's kind of the opposite of Alina when it comes to their personalities. He's a trained soldier and he's a very gifted tracker. He would do anything to protect Alina. There's just something about him that I found alluring. But I wanted to smack him for not noticing what was right in front of him the whole time!
The Darkling is mysterious force that leads the Grisha. And we don't really know much about him until the ending. He's a young handsome man and is really powerful! To be honest, he the character I was the most interested to read about. It seems like everyone was so keen on him. But he came off as a bit dull to me. He was creepy and I didn't like when he was with Alina.
I really found the romance to be appealing. It didn't come out as instantaneous and I really looked forward to all the scenes with Alina and Mal. I loved seeing their budding relationship turn into something more. From the very beginning, I was rooting for them. I just found them to be a cute pairing. And I'm just glad that there's not love triangle! I think there was potential for one but it didn't turn out that way.
Overall, Shadow and Bone was such a kick-ass high fantasy book that I think many readers will enjoy. It was really easy to get immersed into the world and there's many twists and turns that you won't see coming! And I can't wait to start the next book in the Grisha series!!
4 Stars: A Great Read!