Shadow and Bone
Summary: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.
Those who know me and my reading tastes know that while I enjoy an occasional fantasy novel, it’s definitely not my forte or my go-to genre. Why? Because I have a hard time visualizing fantasy worlds. I’m never quite sure how to picture them – as alternate realities? Dream-like worlds? Something else altogether? – and I’m usually left trying to focus on that the entire course of the story.
This being said, I really appreciated what Leigh Bardugo had to offer here. While this was certainly not a perfect novel by any account, I found myself flipping pages, engrossed in Alina’s story.
In an alternate Russia, a special percentage of people have been blessed with powers – the Grisha – whom have the power to heal or to harm, to create fire or storms, or to manipulate the elements. Alina Starkov, our protagonist, is shocked to find out she’s one of those special people. And she may be the most powerful of them all, and possibly even the key to their survival.
Alina was a heroine that I felt a bit ambivalent to. She starts out as a poor young orphan, than slowly climbs up to royalty in the Grisha class system. I found her to sulk and whine just a bit too much for my personal liking.
The book’s main flaw, however, is succumbing to the cliche of needing a love triangle. There is a romance between her childhood friend Mal and the dark, mysterious Darkling. Personally, I could care less if she ends up with Mal or the Darkling (although I’d slightly prefer the Darkling), because both relationships have something equally unappealing about them (with Mal, he’s a bit whiny; with the Darkling there’s the problem of him being evil).
The problem is that such a large majority of the story (over 75%) focuses purely on the romance rather than developing the world or the characters; something that didn’t suit well with me.
However, in the style of Divergent, the pages fly by endlessly and you find yourself caring for the protagonist and the story despite the flaws out of pure enjoyment. I will definitely read the sequel, but I am crossing my fingers that the love triangle is a little less prominent.