Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Published: June 5, 2012
Henry Holt, hardcover, 358pgs
Source: purchased
Goodreads 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.
So I read Shadow & Bone and now I guess fantasy is my thing. And you know what? I completely submit myself to it. Because if all fantasy books were like Leigh Bardugo's, I would never read anything else ever again. Seriously, it's like I blinked and 300 pages had flown by. It was so easy to sink into this book and become one entity with it to where nothing else in life matters. I'm just happy that I was sick when I was reading it and had no other obligations.

Alina and Mal have been BFFs forever, but of course, she's in love with him. And hey, who could blame a girl? He's a fantastic tracker, he's super sarcastic, and he's so unattainable because Alina is SO PLAIN. (Don't make me sing "you don't know you're beautiful," Alina.) But then, as is typical in YA, we find out Alina has Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, making her the center of attention for multiple sets of greedy eyes--namely The Darkling. The good news is: Alina's plain pity party didn't get on my nerves. In fact, it was awesome seeing her confidence and awareness grow and flourish.

Now listen: I make excellent life choices. I do. But in books, all that is thrown to the wind. I love the Darkling. I love an evil villain who is just needing that one girl in his life to tame him and make him see the light. He is hands down my favorite character in this series. So complex and misguided and wanting to see the error of his ways. Or is he? LEIGH BARDUGO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?

Shadow & Bone is an instant favorite. All the hype is completely merited. It's long enough that I feel I experienced a ton of in-depth battles, romance, politics, magic in just over 350 pages, but it's short enough (and oh, the easy writing style. LOVE!) that I was left wanting more. Immediately. I wanted more action, more of the epic cast of secondary characters, more Darkling/Alina/Mal drama. Shadow & Bone isn't a novel where you'll need to put much brainpower into understanding this or that. The story animates itself and plays out effortlessly and enchantingly.

And OH MY GOD, DreamWorks (see: producer of Harry Potter) is going to be making a movie of this? WHO WILL PLAY THE DARKLING? Can I suggest Ed Westwick? Please?

you can't even tell me i'm wrong. 


  1. I. Love. This. Book. So hard. Totally agree with everything you said here! Also, that pic? Yes, please.

  2. I just read this book last week and I thought basically the exact same thing. I was so into the Darkling until a certain point, and then I switched to loving Mal. He's so sweet! I thought it was really neat to see Alina grow into herself as a person as well. Oh, and I agree, Ed Westwick would be PERFECT.

  3. I was neutral on this book when I first read it but then I thought about it more and it turns out that I actually really quite like it. I especially loved whatever it is that is going on with Alina/Mal/Darkling despite my usual hatred of love triangles.

  4. I didn't like this book as much as you did. I think it's because I prefer my fantasies to have phenomenal world building and this one didn't, in my opinion. I do agree that the Darkling is the best character, but I also thought that was because none of the other characters were very developed. But to each her own! That's the beauty of books. Also, I completely, totally, agree that Ed Westwick would be an amazing Darkling in the movie :)

  5. I love that you picked Ed Westwick! I haven't read Shadow & Bone yet (eep!) but I do think that he's a solid choice indeed for any dark, brooding, complex role. Because you know he's AWESOME.

    Also. Your review makes me want to read Shadow & Bone RIGHT AWAY. This sounds like EXACTLY my kind of book!

  6. WELL, I have never read fantasy but will be reading this in March. You gave me some hope that I will enjoy it!

    And Ed Westwick for the win. CHUCK BASS <3

  7. Your enthusiasm MAKES me want to go out and read this book(and watch it too, especially if Ed Westwick is involved)! I love fantasy but my hesitation usually lies in that sometimes the world isn't fleshed out in a comprehensible way, however, it sounds like that's not the case here. And FYI: I have kind of a thing for the baddies, particularly the misunderstood ones, so I think Darkling will end up being my fav too! SO EXCITED!

  8. Ahahahahaha.


    I think we have opposite fictional guy tastes, because I always like the ones who are good life choices.

    Boo, Darkling. BOO.


    YAY FANTASY THOUGH. For always, yo.

  9. I have to disagree on Ed Westwick, because his teeth totally make him not a sexy hero in my mind. And I want the Darkling to be SO HOT.

    1. Christina. Are you really looking at that boy's TEETH? :)

    2. Well, the good news is: the Darkling probably doesn't smile much!

  10. Holy crap, I'd definitely go see that movie if he was the Darkling. Who am I kidding, I'd go see the movie anyway:)

    Loved the Darkling. Loved. Him. So excited to see what will happen in regards to his evil ways in Siege and Storm. I for one don't want him to change one tiny bit:)

  11. Great, great review. Wow. I've been waiting for the paperback release of this book, which is SOON! So excited. I have only heard positive things about this one and it definitely sounds up my alley. I'm glad you enjoyed it so. :)

  12. I am STOKED that you are admitting yourself a full fledged fantasy fan. And also you know my feels about The Darkling. And Warner. And all other broken bad boys that need our lurve.


  14. I tried reading this one but I failed. I might pick it up after this review but I am SO glad I'm not the only one with "I love an evil villain who is just needing that one girl in his life to tame him and make him see the light."

  15. When I was reading the book and came across the Darkling, I instantly thought of Ed Westwick. It's really weird that someone posts this afterwards. xD The book is amazing and the Darkling is by far my favorite character... I wonder what his real name is?

  16. hopefully they see this or hold a poll for who it should be... my vote 100% for Ed Westwick

  17. Reading Shadow and Bone was such a pleasant surprise! I did not think I would like it as much as I did. I absolutely loved it! Every word! Although it has a very satisfying ending, I was so sad reading the last few pages. I wanted it to go on and on. It has everything -- strong character, action, adventure, plenty of twists and turns and the sweetest love story. I won't give away anything because I read it not knowing anything, but read the excerpt and you will know you have to finish it. So much better than I could have imagined!

    Zaira Lynn (All Alaska Outdoors Fishing Lodge - Alaska Ptarmigan Hunting)

  18. This book was fantastic. It deserves every star it got. I am thrilled to read more from Leigh Bardugo. This author is so talented. This world was painted with love, friendship and power. Shadow and Bone is a rare piece of work. It's one of those books that you can read over and over and over. I recommend it to everyone, not just fantasy fans. It has everything. Action, adventure, romance and twists.

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