Shadow and Bone: review

July 26, 2012 2012, 4 star books, fantasy, K., leigh bardugo 71

Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

The correct term for my current condition is Tskdn;ieajnrja. It is a state in which the mind of a reader of young adult fiction is awesomely blown. I’ve lost all sense of decorum. You see, all I want to do is fangirl. That’s it. All the time. I come near the book and it’s a reaction — I just squeal and squeeze my hands to my heart and bat my lashes and swing side to side, breathe in air, breathe out wishful thoughts.

 It’s a symptom, a side effect, a sickness, a who cares. I don’t mind that Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone has turned my brain to mush, or that it has limited my mental capacity to that of a tween girl. I’ve written notes and I have things to say, I just can’t piece them together to make enough sense that they would qualify as “readable”. But I must try. Because all of the above is mostly inspired by the irresistibly appealing quality of Mal. Yes, that’s right. I want him.

 Fortunately, this book is also a very well-written story. We’ve got here an interesting alternate magical world of Grishas, and Darklings, of orphans, and kings; of greedy men, desperate mothers, a misled people, and young lovers. Alina is a great protagonist. She’s sharp, humble, outspoken, and willing to do anything if it’s right. She has a character arc because even while she’s always had a biting edge, she thoroughly undergoes trials and we are witness to her mental, physical, and emotional break down. But she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and off she goes.

 This is also not without awesome back-up because I think I might be in love with most, if not all, of the secondary characters. Mal, the best friend, fellow orphan and tracker extraordinaire, is an effective male lead. He’s protective but never too affectionate. He doesn’t pamper Alina; he gives her what he knows she can take because he has faith in her. Genya, the beautiful servant to the queen, is the likeable girl friend — or rather the only friend Alina makes during her stint at the Little Palace. She’s gorgeous, sympathetic, snarky, and desperately in love with a geek. She knows her station in life and that makes me bleed for her. And the Darkling. I’m going to leave it there. These characters have their own stories to tell. They’ve earned the right to these pages — perhaps even more so than Alina in some respects. They each have a past they must deal with; secrets and demons they have to fight.

The storytelling is immensely sweeping. Bardugo has delivered a story of sacrifice and growing up, with magic and war and set it with the grandness of a fairy tale. The world building is fantastic. Her universe is fully formed and detailed. You’re not left without questions but seeing as I question the actual world we live in myself, I figured it was just another great feature to her writing.

Alina’s (and Mal) journey is complete; a full circle. In the end, they arrive where they were before but nothing is the same, their lives and their selves are shifted. The end reinforces what I’ve found to be the crux of the tale…home. Losing home, searching for home, yearning for home, having home. Alina and Mal have been given and taken home all their lives. They have lived and lost again as they did before they came to Kermazin, the orphanage where their destinies were eventually decided; as they are now, in the end. Orphans again. But not children, for they are no longer hiding from the older kids, or from Ana Kuya’s temper. No longer shadows they must avoid but true evil.

So, if you’ve heard the hype — and I’m sure you have — but have wondered until now if it really is worth the read…yup.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars

This review also appears on Goodreads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

71 Responses to “Shadow and Bone: review”

  1. Enna Isilee

    I adored this book! It managed to keep me on my toes even while I THOUGHT I knew what was coming next!

    Great review!

  2. Katja

    Brilliant review! I recently finished this one, and I adored it. What did you think of The Darkling? At first, I was dreading the possibility of a love triangle, but I’m glad it worked out in the end. :)

  3. Scarlett

    I’m glad you liked this one! I enjoyed it quite a bit, but was excepting just a little bit more. I actually really kind of liked the darkling and was a bit frustrated with how he ended up being at the end, but am still holding out for his changing!

  4. Vivien

    Great review!! I was really anticipating this read. While I did enjoy it, something held me back from going gaga over it. I can’t really pinpoint it. Maybe the sequel will blow me away.

  5. Katie McCurdy

    Wow, it sounds like you enjoyed this book!!!

    Yes, I was one of those readers who say this book, read about it…but wasn’t really sure if it’d be worth my time. You’ve made me rethink my decision, that’s for sure! Maybe I’ll have to hunt down a copy after all..! :-)

  6. Neyra

    Great Review K! :) I actually have a copy of this book on my shelf just waiting to be read >.< I hope to get to it soon, definitely have heard a lot of great things about it, and I'm looking forward to it :D Neyra-

  7. Gisele

    I have this book sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to read! I need to start it ASAP! :D Thanks for the review!

  8. Sabina

    Awesome! I’ve been wondering about this book and now I can’t wait to get my hands on it!! =)

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks Johannah, but I’m afraid I can’t take credit for this review–my lovely coblogger is the one who gave us this one. I can’t wait to read this book after seeing her reaction!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Wes, this amazing review was written by my coblogger, K.! You guys should be friends on GoodReads if you’re not already. :)

  9. The Teen Book Guru

    Oooh great review, K! I’ve just kinda ‘discovered’ your blog, and I love it!!! OMG it’s so beautiful! And I love the owl!! Owls rock. And so does your review! I have this book on my TBR list, and you make me want to read this, like, NOW. The characters seem awesome and lovable. Can’t wait to dig in. :D *jumps up and down* Well, it’s super duper nice to meet you!! I love your blog! I look forward to stalking more of your awesome posts. :)


    • K.

      Oh, bless your heart. Alas, it is not really my blog. I am but a mere contributing writer to Wendy Darling’s The Midnight Garden :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, this is K.’s wonderful review! And our blog would be a sad place indeed if we didn’t have her writing to enjoy. I want to read just about everything she gets excited over.

  10. Leanne

    I’m sure many readers experience symptoms of ‘Tskdn;ieajnrja’ after reading Melina Marchetta’s books. Yup, definitely had my mind blown more than once as a result of reading her novels…

    I probably said this before, but I ADORE your review, K. :) And Genya was a favourite of mine, too. :)

  11. Karen

    I have this one but I was somewhat undecided as the whether I wanted to read it or not. It’s not something I would usually read but you did make it sound so beautiful.
    Great review.

  12. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    What a lovely review! I love when a book leaves me w/a jumble of emotions. Shadow & Bone is not a boom I’m typically drawn to, but the hype is swaying. I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

  13. Emily

    I enjoyed this book, but I had some issues with it. I’m not sure how I’d rate it yet. I have to read book two before I can gather all of my thoughts.
    Glad you really enjoyed it! :o)

  14. Sarah (saz101)

    K, THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. That’s it, I’M CONVINCED YOU’RE NOT HUMAN. Humans simply don’t write this wonderfully and AHJFDAJH. AND AND AND… CAN YOU TELL I’M EXCITED?

    I just finished Throne of Glass, and I’ve started Stormdancer, and I’m on a total high fantasy kick, and I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS. AND THANK YOU! AT LAST I HAVE A SCIENTIFIC NAME FOR THAT CONDITION! :D

    • K.

      I’m blushing, Sarah. And isn’t it the best when you read awesome book after awesome book? You start to feel a bit spoiled actually…haha!

    • Sarah (saz101)

      I actually AM feeling really spoiled… and SCARED. I think the last… oh… I just counted them–THIRTEEN books I’ve read have been TERRIFIC. And I’m giddy with excitement… and fear for when the dud comes along :P

      heh ^__^

    • K.

      Haha, really? I always sort of anticipate the duds with a queer sense of excitement. I like exercising my critically-skeptically inclined narrative analysis.

  15. Sydney

    Thank you so much for this review! I’m going to finally let go of my hesitation now and get my hands on this.

  16. KM

    I’m feeling like I’m one of the only people that didn’t just fall head over heels in love with this book. It was just sort of okay for me. I mean, it was good…but not great.

    • K.

      Understandable, KM. I’m disappointed but it’s okay. Maybe the sequel will change your mind? ;)

  17. Taneika

    Ooh I’ve been looking forward to reading this for some time now and it’s great to hear that this lived up to the hype for you :) I may have to get my hands on this soon! I’ve been hanging out for a book that I CAN’T. PUT. DOWN!!

    Wonderful review :)

  18. Sarahbotbonkers

    Oh what a fantastic review, K.! I think I’m the only one who hasn’t read Shadow and Bone yet and it feels like I’m missing out a very good book based on your review. I’ll surely look for this book in my next visit in our local bookstore. Again, I love your review, K.! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      Sarah, I’m in the same boat as you–I haven’t read this yet either! But after seeing K’s crazily good review, I am definitely going to have to bump it up the list. Besides, it made her “hit me in the heart” shelf on GoodReads, so I know it’s a must. :)

  19. Keksi

    Yesss, I loved this one and can’t wait for the sequel.

    “They have lived and lost again as they did before they came to Kermazin, the orphanage where their destinies were eventually decided; as they are now, in the end. Orphans again. But not children, for they are no longer hiding from the older kids, or from Ana Kuya’s temper. No longer shadows they must avoid but true evil.”


    • K.

      Aw, thanks so much Keksi! And I can’t wait for the sequel either :D

  20. Jaime Lester

    Thank you so much for this. I laughed so hard because I have the same reaction to certain books, but I did not know what the actual name of this was. Now I do, and I know that I am not alone. Makes me feel better, ya know! Anyway, you managed to write a very coherent review of Shadow and Bone. I actually read this one not too long ago. I feel like something may be wrong with me, because while I very much enjoyed myself, I did not go all “fangirl”. It is very disappointing. I think that when book 2 hits stores, I will try again! Fangirl, here I come?

    • K.

      Haha, Jaime! Well, Tskdn;ieajnrja can be applied to any book that makes you all giddy inside :)

  21. Melliane

    Well ok, now I really need to read this one, I keep seeing amazing reviews about it. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely add it to my wiishlist. thanks!

  22. A Canadian Girl

    Lol, K, you make me want to fangirl with you! I loved the secondary characters just as much as I loved Alina and can’t wait to see more of them in Book 2.

  23. Katie Tuccelli

    Oh my gosh, what a fabulous review! You made me want to read this NOW! I will definitely pick this up off my shelf this weekend :-) So glad you enjoyed it!

    -Katie @ BlookGirl

    • K.

      Ooh, this weekend? YAY!!! You’re gonna have an awesome weekend then!

  24. Christy D

    lol – fangirl away, K. As much as I’ve heard how good this is, I still struggle with not really wanting to read it. Idk, I’m sure I’ll get to it one day and then kick myself for not reading it sooner.

    • K.

      Oh no, really? Why don’t you just read the first few chapters and see!

  25. Erika

    This seems like such a unique story and I’m intrigued to see what the hype is all about. The characters and plot seem to be very likable as well. I thank you for your review.

  26. Christina

    Yes! I love reading that fangirling review and seeing that you still rated the book a four. I’ve written a couple of reviews like that recently, and I always expect someone to call me out and be like ‘don’t you see that you had nothing bad to point to? why is this not a 5?’ Usually, it’s either that the book was really good, but I just FEEL like it’s a 4 even though I can’t say why. OR I just ate it up, but I know it wasn’t ACTUALLY perfect.

    Mal is all yours. I will take the Darkling. Thanks. :-D

    • K.

      Oh mee gawd. I reserve the right to fangirl whenever I want. And I do it proudly :) And I know what you mean…you fangirl but then you think and you KNOW it shouldn’t be five stars, haha!

  27. Sam

    K, I love this review! Quite a bit of fan-girling was triggered in me when I first read this book. ;) I’m so pleased to see you enjoyed it too. The world-building was one of my favourite aspects – second to Mal, of course. I’m just the tiniest bit obsessed with him. ;) Let’s hope the next book is just as good!

  28. Jasprit

    Wonderful review K, I’ve already so many great reviews of this but still haven’t gotten around to reading a copy! I know what is wrong with me? I also like how your favourite character ended up being Mal, from all the review I’ve read everyone preferred The Darkling! I can’t wait to read what stories they have to tell! :)

  29. Gin Bryant

    FANTASTIC review! I was already dying to read this book. Now it’s staring at me, begging me to grab it off that shelf, and dive in. Must. get. caught. up. first. *grits teeth and resists temptation*

    I’m so glad you enjoyed! I’m absolutely positive I will, too. :)

  30. Beatriz Lins

    Awesome review :D I can’t wait to get into this one – it sounds fantastic. I’m glad the world-building is solid, yet open for questions from the readers. That’s usually what I look for in a fantasy novel (well, that, and a strong main character, which Shadow and Bone also has) :D

  31. Erin

    I am so in love with this book as well! (I’ll stand with you and we can fangirl together!) I can honestly say that this was the first book that got me to love the good guy and the bad guy equally so – I’m staunch on choosing a side. :) I still find myself loving on the bad guy without apology, even though my heart has melted for the other. Oh, this book did wicked things to my emotions! It’s been a couple weeks since I read the darn thing and I still can’t think straight or form coherent sentences. I’ve made a couple friends read it simply by handing it to them and uttering, “now.” They don’t understand until they finish and call me up, babbling incoherently and I just yell, “I KNOW! RIGHT!!!” I love books that cause verbal reactions that would make every english teacher I’ve ever had cringe! :)

    Great review! I’ve missed your reviews. It’s so good to have you back.

    • K.

      Haha, I love that you just hand it to them and utter one word and done. Love it. And I’m K. … I’m sure you meant Wendy as she’s the one who’s been away…and a more awesome reviewer. That’s okay, though. We’re friends now ;)

  32. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    I haven’t realized that home was an important theme in this wonderful book till now. you are so correct! this story was about finding home and sometimes home is just being with the person/people you love. I love Mal too!!! Fantastic and amazingly written review K.! Such a delight to read!

    • K.

      Thank you, Rachel. And I’m sure there’s more to this book but that was definitely the most pervasive theme I found :)

  33. Bookworm1858

    I enjoyed this book a lot too and I definitely swooned for Mal…his statement nearish the end to Alina? I die-I can’t even handle it.

    • K.

      I know, bookworm! Can I call you bookworm :) It’s hard to be that sentimental without sounding corny. And Bardugo pulled Mal off wonderfully — oh, that’s a bit dirty, isn’t it?

  34. Kelly

    I loved this one! Your review touches on things I remember really enjoying as well…”He doesn’t pamper Alina; he gives her what he knows she can take because he has faith in her.” and “Bardugo has delivered a story of sacrifice and growing up, with magic and war and set it with the grandness of a fairy tale.”

    Just wondering what made you drop a star? I also gave it four stars, as I found the fantasy could have been a bit meatier.

    Great review!

    • K.

      I gave it four for the same reason as you. Meatier is the best word. But still, a very very good read!

  35. Keertana

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one K.! It’s one of those few reads that truly lived up to the hype, which was great! :D Plus, I love that you mentioned Genya in your review – not many readers did, but I thought she was such an influential and interesting character, especially to give us insight into the political scheme of this worl. Fantastic review, K.!(:

    Ivy Book Bindings

    • K.

      It certainly lived up to the hype! And I loved Genya. I thought she had spunk, wit, and a sense of sympathy you feel both towards her and from her. I thought it was nice that she had the beauty and yet what she valued was beyond that. Thanks, Keertana!