Author: Leigh Bardugo
Book Title: Shadow and Bone
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Type: Series – Trilogy
Format: Hardcover, 358 Pages
Publishing Date: June 5, 2012
Summary: “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.” [summary from BN.com]
My Thoughts: I spent an entire weekend, holed up in my apartment like a hermit, frantically devouring all three of these books. When I reached the final page of book three, I just couldn’t come to grips with the fact that this fantasy roller coaster had come to an end. It. Was. AWESOME!!!
We are first introduced to Alina as this pale, too-skinny girl who wasn’t anything special her entire life. She has a best friend named Mal and they’ve grown up together in an orphanage, practically as brother and sister. Mal has always been charismatic and desirable to others while Alina was left walking in his shadow, but she never seemed to mind her place so long as they were together. It wasn’t until she was discovered by the Grisha, who are an alluring, magical people, that her entire life was turned on its side and her true destiny began to unfold. This is where things became really exciting as she began her transformation into a strong, empowered female character that every story wants in the leading role, but it took some time. It wasn’t like she magically became the most gorgeous girl on earth and had everyone begging for her attention. No, she had to work for what she ended up with, and often that work was brutally hard on her mind and body. Through it all though, she wasn’t afraid of pushing past her fears while in the face of insurmountable danger and that made me see her as one tough chick.
Aside from Alina’s character development over the course of this trilogy, there was of course the predictable love triangle that most YA novels have…which is actually more of a quadrangle in this case though. However, what wasn’t predictable about the romance in this story was that it’s very presence added a sweetness that was perfectly aligned with the otherwise violent storyline. It made me feel for the characters, good and bad alike, in ways that maybe I wouldn’t have had the love stuff been removed. Overall, even though I loved Alina’s growth and I thought there were plenty of other charming and equally likable characters, it was the Darkling who captivated me the most. His presence was just so sexy and dangerous that I’m pretty sure I’m more than a little “in like” with him, and that’s even considering my love/hate relationship with his actions but I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read the series yet.
I gave this series such a high rating because it was wildly entertaining and always kept me wanting more. For me, living vicariously through Alina and the Darkling, in the ever-changing kingdom of Ravka, was a wild ride that I never wanted to get off.
Quotable Moments: “There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?” I shook my head, inching away from him. “Faith,” he breathed, his black eyes wild. “Faith.”