Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Release: June 5, 2012
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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
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I absolutely loved this book. Go. Buy it now.
Ah, but you're here for a more substantial review. Aren't you? *sigh* Well, excuse my attempt, because about 90% of this will be gushing praise.
Shadow and Bone employs fairly cliched plot devices: an orphaned girl, a dormant power, and a main character that is destined to save her world. Despite this, Shadow and Bone is incredibly unique and...magical. In fact, I get jealous when thinking about this book and its impressive story--which I will now try to explain (because, honestly, the summary doesn't do the book justice).
Alina is normal. She's an orphan and a (not so very good) apprentice mapmaker. She grew up with her childhood friend (and crush), Mal. When the two of them attempt to travel across "The Shadow Fold" with their regiment, Alina reveals a dormant power that brings hope to the citizens of Ravka. And just like that, the poor orphan girl is whisked away to the capital to be trained as a Grisha: one of the magical elite that practice the "small science".
What I loved most about this book was how Bardugo was able to literarily translate Light vs. Dark to words on a page. It's quite impressive and, as I said, makes me seethe with jealousy. I also really enjoyed the characters. Alina may see herself as a nobody, but she eventually grows to embrace her unique power. Not only that, but she accepts herself as worthy of love and respect.
I also found The Darkling awfully mysterious and fascinating. Did I expect the plot twist in the second half of the book? Yes, a part of me did. But it was really interesting to see how the characters reacted. And Mal. Oh, Mal. He makes very short appearances, but every time, I found myself smiling. He is never far from Alina's heart, making his presence felt with each page I turned.
I could honestly go on and on about how amazing this book was! But seriously? Go and see for yourself!
RATING: 5 SLICES