Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Bingo: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in a series called The Grisha. I believe this is also Bardugo's first published novel, but I might be wrong on that account. In the book, a wide, cross-country strip of land (the Shadow Fold) in Ravka is enveloped in darkness and plagued by dark demonic creatures that can fly and will eat any humans who try to cross their domain. Every once in a while, units from the First Army (the king's army) and the Grisha (a group of individuals who have magical affinities with nature--controlling the direction and force of the wind, for instance, or cutting someone's skin with a motion in the air) need to cross the Fold for supplies and special training. As a member of the First Army, Alina (an orphan and a cartographer's assistant) is required to make this journey with her group in order to complete her training. But after an unexpected light show while crossing the Fold, Alina has the Darkling (leader of the Grisha), Mal (her best friend), and everyone else questioning if she is meant to be much more than a cartographer--she might be their salvation.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

Conclusion: Bardugo certainly knows how to keep me reading! I sped through this book like crazy, completely fascinated even by the parts I didn't enjoy. Although there isn't anything really extraordinary about Alina personality-wise, I was able to connect with her character and feel sympathy, excitement, and horror as the occasions called for them. Mal and the Darkling are such great characters! Even when I "got to know them," they still surprised me and kept me intrigued. I loved that instead of sticking with the usual ideas of setting and magical powers, she looked to Russian folk tales for inspiration. (Little disclaimer: I have read some reviews that said the readers did not feel as though Bardugo had done enough research on Russian traditions to write this book. I know almost nothing about this topic, so until I get a chance to brush up on my own reading of Russian folk tales, I am judging the book from an outside view.) Bardugo really drew me in and made me feel part of Alina's world. I'll definitely be reading the second book in this series, Siege and Storm.

I picked this up because it has been nominated for the Truman Award (one of four MASL awards) for the 2014/15 school year. There are lots of awards that we tell people about at my work (of course--it's a bookstore), but the Mark Twain Award and the Truman Award are the most important ones at the store, since they garner the most attention from students, parents, and teachers. You might remember my review of The Eleventh Plague last year, which was one of the nominees in the last batch. One of my goals for this year is to read more of these award nominees, so I'll probably mention them in other reviews from time to time.

This book is my third "Series" selection for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge. I'm making such fast progress, you guys; I think I'm gonna' have to up my game! Speaking of which, my son has been sick (hence the lack of recent reviews). Sorry I haven't been around as much, but I have been reading a lot, so hopefully my reviews will pick-up soon. I'd love to hear what you all think about this book and anything else you're reading! Leave me comments and links! I'll see you next time!

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