Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

July 21, 2014 Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 10

Zdravsvtvuyte Bookworms!
That was a Russian greeting, because I’m all about setting the scene, and I recently finished reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not hugely into YA fiction, but I read an article on Book Riot last year and the series landed on my radar. Kit Steckliener wrote the piece, and I typically trust her opinion. I figured if anyone was going to steer me toward YA that I’d enjoy, Kit would be a good bet.

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024 Shadow and Bone is set in Ravka, which has a Russian vibe about it. The country has been divide in half by something called a Shadow Fold, which is dark and full of man-eating creatures who take large chunks out of those who would try to pass. Alina Starkov is a bit of a misfit- an orphan with no discernible talents. She’s serving in the army with her BFF (who happens to be a super handsome boy she’s a little bit in love with) when she’s required to cross the Fold. In the midst of the chaos, she busts out with some magical skills she was unaware she had, and is swept into the world of the mysterious Grisha. The Grisha are people with magical talents who get to wear these sweet robes and live in a castle. Swank digs and duds aside, Alina has to navigate this new world and, you know, try to save the world while she’s at it.

There were some elements of Shadow and Bone I really liked. I thought the whole Grisha concept was pretty cool. I don’t run into a lot with a Russian folklore twist to it (though, I really have no idea if this is based on folklore at all, being unfamiliar with Slavic mythology, but it feels sort of fairy tale-ish.) I’m down with magic. I like dark and mysterious. I like cool outfits. I wish I could keep it positive, but I had some issues with this book, too…

The way the Grisha do magic reminded me a LOT of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review). Only… The Name of the Wind did it better. Plus there was a love triangle, and now that I am a grumpy, jaded old person, I have no patience of love triangles. Sadly, for me the bad outweighed the good. I don’t know if I’ll bother with the rest of the series. Sad trombone.

Tell me something, Bookworms. Have you ever run across two similar story lines but thought one was done much better than the other? 

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10 Responses to “Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo”

  1. Anne @ Lovely Literature

    I really didn’t recognize the similarities between the two magic systems while reading but I can kind of see it. Name of The Wind is on a completely different playing field for me. I couldn’t get into S&B at all, it just felt flat, despite everyone’s insistence that it was really inventive. The magic, and the whole thing really, felt juvenile because everyone was in school and there were petty popular girls and appearances mattered so much. So I’m passing on the others.

    • Words For Worms

      Yeah, I definitely got a weird vibe from the Grisha school… You’d think people with magical powers would be less shallow… Or more overtly evil. One of the two.

  2. Megan M.

    I’m super mad that my sixth grade self didn’t absorb enough Russian to know how to pronounce that greeting. I can, however, sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” like a boss. I think we all know that that is a skill that will come in handy one day.

    As usual you’ve asked a really intriguing question that I just know I have a good answer to, if I could only think of it! I’ve seen a lot of praise for this book, though, but I’m glad I decided not to read it because it sounds like it would be disappointing for me as well.

    Have you read “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor? It’s the first of a trilogy (they’re all out now, so no waiting) and I thought it was really good even though it wasn’t what I typically go for.

    • Words For Worms

      Funny you mention Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I kept confusing that one with Shadow and Bone and nearly bought the wrong book. Maybe I’d have been better off with that one?

      • Megan M.

        I really liked it… get the sample if you can and see what you think! 🙂

  3. Jancee

    I enjoyed this book and the second one as well. Ruin and Rising is up pretty soon on my TBR shelf, so I hope I like that one as well. Of course, I read a LOT of YA, so that’s probably helped. I also haven’t read the book you referenced either. I did have some things I didn’t like, but I can’t really remember what they are, so there ya go!

  4. thatashgirl

    I sounds good but I think it’s one of those books that would suck me in based on the cool Disney villain style graphics on the cover.

  5. Athira

    I have been seeing this one around a lot and I love this cover! Not sure if it is for me, since I don’t read too much YA either, but this one sounds good for when I crave some YA books.

  6. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I’ve read two book series and realized they were surprisingly similar (Seraphina and Cast In Shadow), but in that case one felt like the YA version of the other so I didn’t think one was obviously better.

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