Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon

Release Date: August 20th 2013
Published by: Bloomsbury USA
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Digital ARC provided by NetGalley
Author Links: Blog | Twitter

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.


Well...that was not at all what I was expecting. The Bone Season was certainly an interesting story, but I must admit that it was a bit overwhelming at times.

The world Shannon has created is so complex that I often had a difficult time keeping up with what's what and I often felt like I should be taking notes. From the very beginning, a lot of information is dumped on the reader and you're given little time to digest it before you've reached the next round of info dumping. This problem is compounded by the fact that when learning a new term you're often having to learn the slang term as well.

I'm not a reader who craves stories that are light and easy. Quite the opposite. I know that complexity in world building, when done skillfully, can make a story unique and stimulating. It becomes memorable and can stand apart from all the rest. Or it can feel like a massive info dump and, if you're like me, you find yourself skimming over the numerous labels and new terminology and endless stream of names for secondary characters and their individual talents, etc. And then I just have to hope that the skimming doesn't cause me to miss something important later on... It's not exactly a fun way to read.

But there are a few things that can make a story like this redeemable and The Bone Season has them. Starting with a good protagonist. Paige is a young, scrappy heroine who has grown up in a syndicate crime ring. As the mime-lord's Dreamer, she has the rare ability to access other voyants' dreamscapes and does so by flinging her spirit out of her body and invading theirs. It's definitely an interesting talent and it continues to grow as the story progresses.

I also found myself looking forward to the big show down with the evil villainess of this story. As Paige's abilities developed, I found myself becoming more anxious to see how she would use her unique weapon against someone so much more powerful than her.

And, of course, there is her strained relationship with Warden. It's obvious from the beginning that he is more than what he seems. He was the typical mysterious, brooding, handsome man and I wasn't certain that I was going to like him at first since this type of character is a dime a dozen, but he slowly grew on me. I'm definitely curious to see how things progress with him in the sequel.

Overall, I thought The Bone Season was a decent beginning to Shannon's new series. I'm hoping it's just suffering from First Book Syndrome and now that all of the introductions are mostly out of the way, the next story will prove to be more entertaining than the debut.


roro said...

The reviews have been mixed with this one. I think I'll give it a try when more sequels are out.thx for the review

Melliane said...

I hope the next one will be better. I was curious about this one, everyone speaks about it and well it's intriguing. They also bought the rights in France (or I think so because some publishers are speaking about the book). I'll have to try some day.

Addicted2Heroines said...

roro - I've seen a lot of mixed reviews too, but all of my GR friends gave it 5 stars. That really surprised me. Thanks for stopping by!

Melliane - I heard that it was being translated into something like 18 different languages. I've also been hearing a lot about it on morning talk shows. Not sure why it's getting so much publicity.

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