Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Recommendation: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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.


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I started this book in London Heathrow Airport and read it all the way through my layover in Munich and all the way to Cluj, Romania. This is saying something, because I was running on about four hours of sleep and usually when I try to read while tired I fall asleep on the book and drool all over it. Not so with Shadow and Bone, guys. 

What I appreciated most was the setting of this book. It was Russia but it was not Russia. There was magic but it was a different kind of magic. There were strange, vicious creatures I'd never seen described before. There were friends and enemies and enemies who looked like friends. It was unfamiliar and imaginative and it totally played into my mental love affair with all things Eastern European while still being its own world.

I also loved Alina. First of all, she was funny, and as someone who spends all her time writing from the perspective of the deeply serious, often humorless Tris, that was really refreshing. I don't see many funny heroines these days. She was also strong in a new way--not because she never made mistakes, or bad judgement calls (she did), and not because she could totally beat the crap out of someone (she couldn't), but because she had a strong sense of self that carried her through some fairly difficult times. I love a good flawed-but-strong character, and I especially love when authors allow their characters to make mistakes.

The most important thing, though, was that I actually wanted to read it again once I was finished. This rarely happens to me, even when I love a book. The only reasons I really read something again are that I want to immerse myself in that world again, or that I feel like I will get something different out of the book the second time. Both of these things are true of Shadow and Bone.

Best of all: it's out now!

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