Book Review – Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is 3.5 stars…
After the all high ratings, I am a bit disappointed. Shadow and Bone does absolutely nothing new for the already tired YA genre. It has every characteristic trope of a boring book: 
1.An apparently plain heroine with a power she doesn’t know what to do with, snarky attitude, wildly fluctuating feelings and no appetite? Check.
2.A childhood friend who suddenly realises, after 10+years and two seconds of seeing her in some other guy’s arms, that he loves her and only her? Check.
3.A dark, mysterious hottie who eventually does turn out to be the antagonist, and for whom, despite all common sense, the heroine has ambiguous feelings? Check.
4.A setting that includes a fictional country with such original history, religion and language that it is blatantly obvious which real life place it is? Check.
5.A plot that, because of the above elements and lack of anything resembling a story, is totally predictable? Check.

Reading this left me so numb that when the white stag, (which is a completely unheard of thing in literature,btw) popped up, I became:

No way! Albino deer? Wow, I thought they just made up those in Snow White and the Huntsman...

I tried to like it, I really did, but it just didn’t click with me. The Russian influences made it okay, but not great – the priest and king allegory is completely transparent.
I did like the character of the Darkling though. He was a bit different from the usual silent types that populate teen books and I was totally rooting for him until he turned out…you know, the usual thing.
Mal also I liked in the beginning, but then he went all devoted lover boy on me and I couldn’t stomach him any more. It would have way more fun if he were the antagonist. And creepier.
Alina, I neither liked nor disliked. Her sarcasm was a bright spot, but even that seemed forced. Most of the humour in the book was about as natural as Nicki Minaj.

Despite all that, I am going to give the Grisha series a chance and keep reading the sequel, which is turning out to be much more interesting – it has great pacing, interesting conflicts and of course, Nikolai.

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