Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was hard for me to rate. It was more than a 2 star read but less than a 3. I didn’t like it but I didn’t hate it. It was frustrating and yet addictive. Ultimately I went with a 3 because I am fascinated enough to try for the sequel. Why such wishy-washy nonsense? Well…it goes like this…

The down right irritating:

The world building was so substandard as to be practically nonexistent. We get a nod in the way of explanation about the political system: there is a petulant king, a vain queen, and a smattering of useless nobles. There is also this guy called Darkling who has an entire school of Grisha- witches and wizard type folk- seated comfortably in the capital who not so secretly desires to overthrow the whole system and yet for some unfathomable reason can’t seem to muster up the wherewithal to do it (despite a weak court and endless in fighting) and therefore falls under the king to command. Excepting when he finds himself a woman, girl really, that he wants to zombiefy to control her power and take over the world. Yeah…okay. The Grisha women are your typical “mean girls”, making this feel more angsty highschool drama rather than a fantasy.

Our heroine Alina is…well…a wimp. She didn’t start off that way as a child. (view spoiler) But somewhere along the way she became rather pathetic. She attached herself to a man who doesn’t see her. Then she allows the Grisha women’s’ petty jealousies to control her actions. She places entirely too much importance on physical appearance. She falls easily for the first man to pay her notice. And, she doesn’t ever fight for herself. And yet, EVERYONE WANTS HER! Maddening.

Borderline love story. Darkling? Mal? Make a decision woman!

The good:

Mal is solid. He starts out as immature and vain. Your typical soldier play boy with little depth. Then, he grows. His best friend is taken away and suddenly he realizes what she meant to him. He enters into a sort of suicide mission to help her and then finds his way to review her despite his mistaken assumptions.

I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me.

He is the only character with any sort of development in the entire tale.

The writing was oddly addictive even has I pulled at my hair in frustration. The author has a way of spinning a yarn that makes you pick up the book again and forge on despite irritations.

Overall

This book felt like background. Like there was a slow build to get to something significant. Too much mean girls and not enough fantasy. But it is enough of a leading for me to pick up the next installment and see what the author can really do.

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