Monday, May 21, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Holt Children's / Macmillan
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Reviewer: Maggie (13)
Rating: 4 1/2 Cheeseburgers

Shadow and Bone takes place in an alternate Russia, called Ravka. There are rifles and serfs and a king, like in normal turn-of-the-century Russia, but also a group of nobles, called Grisha, who have psychic/magic powers. Depending on what type of Grisha they are, they can bend metal and forge things, create/move water or fire, or kill people. With their minds. There’s also a very powerful, just-beneath-the-King Grisha called the Darkling, who has the power to summon darkness/shadow. Years ago, the Black Heretic (the first darkling) used his magical powers to summon up a dark cloud, the Shadow Fold, filled with evil creatures called volcra. When it was created, it killed everyone inside, turning farmland filled with people into a wasteland. Shadow and Bone tells the story of Alina Starkov, who is discovered to be the Sun
Summoner, someone with very rare Grisha powers (summoning light) and who has the capability, in theory, of destroying the Shadow Fold.

The book is really well written: it’s got some darkness to it, but it’s not super disturbing like the Hunger Games. There’s a love triangle, but it’s well done and not over the top, and the characters are interesting, so it doesn’t make you want to go to the dentist or anything.

The best part is Alina Starkov herself. She’s skinny, and not glamorous or beautiful, and she starts off not knowing she has magical powers, but she’s a great character, because she doesn’t let anyone give her a hard time. At one point, after she’s taken to the king’s palace to show her powers to the nobles, she’s woken up to be made “presentable”. However, she doesn’t know that’s why she’s being woken up, and the servants expect her to just go along with this. Instead of cooperating and asking bewildered questions along the way, she stops, refuses to let them do anything, and when she’s told that there’s not enough time, says “Make time! I’ve covered almost two hundred miles on horseback. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week, and I’ve nearly been killed twice. So before I do anything else, you’re going to have to
tell me who you are and why it’s so very important…” Which is awesome.

I would definitely recommend this book to kids around age 9 or higher… there’s a slightly graphic kissing/make out scene and at an earlier, unrelated point someone gets cut in half. However, if you don’t care about that stuff, it’s definitely interesting to read. I would give it 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

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