by Leigh Bardugo
In Shadow and Bone we follow Alina, who’s an ordinary girl in a world where people called Grisha has special abilities. Alina is an orphan, a map maker and longtime friends with a boy called Mal. When they enter the impenetrable darkness of the Shadow Fold, Alina’s journey from ordinary to exceptional begins.
So I finally managed to complete this book (and the whole series) after trying like five times. I found this first book in the series incredibly hard to get into, and it was just something that didn’t pull me in at all. But as I reached about 10-20% in, I found that the story really took off and I could see why this is such a popular book.
I liked seeing Alina struggle with accepting who she had become and what she could do, while at the same time feeling inadequate and uncomfortable with everyone’s expectation of her. At times I got a bit tired of the school-like setting, and there was a lot of details surrounding training, gossip, dances and all that kind of stuff. It was almost some weird Russian-inspired take on Harry Potter at times. But behind all of that shallow stuff, there was an interesting story building up and a relationship with a villainous boy who had a lure about him that made it hard to determine his true intentions.
I both liked and disliked the writing style in this book, and I liked that it felt like it was Alina’s unique voice and the way it was written made me think of her as a friend. But overall, the writing style in these books are quite passive and it sometimes give me the feeling of reading a letter that Alina has written to me rather than a story told in a way that makes me feel part of it. Also, I think that after having read some of Leigh Bardugo’s later works, I can see the how much she’s developed her skills since this book came out, and this makes it harder to like this “lesser version”.
I’m still giving this book a solid four stars out of 5 since I enjoyed it and I would recommend it. It was a great book with a unique world and interesting characters.