My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think we always enter a new story world with pre-conceived notions and ideas regarding what it will be about. This book was one of those amazing ones that told a story I was not expecting to hear. The front of my edition has a quote from Veronica Roth: "Unlike anything I've ever read." And I think that's the best way to describe this book.
Quick synopsis: Alina is a small-time officer in the Army when she is told her unit will enter the Unsea, the field of darkness that sweeps through Ravka. When she enters the fold, she reveals a secret power in herself that gets her noticed by the most powerful Grisha of all: The Darkling.
To me, Shadow and Bone was the perfect mix of fantasy, romance and adventure. Not too much of any one of those, but enough to keep me interested. I think the key to a good high fantasy novel is that we do not question the existence of such a world. Good writing with a concentration on continuity achieves this feat, and Bardugo certainly did.
On the romance front, I feel a little ashamed at how much I loved The Darkling. Even knowing his true intentions, I still want redemption for him! And if not, at least a great sex scene with Alina. I know, I am a fool! So yeah, I really want him and Alina together. Which is bad. Since he's super evil and literally plotting world domination. Which brings me to my next point...
I just was not feeling Mal. I know they will end up together, but honestly, Mal was such a lukewarm character. He was the reason I cannot give this book 5 stars. It happens - sometimes, even if a book is great, we just do not connect with a particular character. I have a feeling it's because Mal is missing for most of the book, whereas The Darkling is somewhat omnipresent. Regardless, Mal is boring (sorry everyone).
I loved The Palace, and everything to do with the other Grisha. I especially hope we see more of Genya and Baghra! I have a feeling that they both may be critical to the outcome of this story. Bardugo certainly plants seeds about a lot of characters and events that will most likely become important at a later date. Way to keep me hooked, Bardugo!
I felt very unsure about the ending. I just really hope that Siege and Storm brings Alina and Mal back to Ravka, so they can actually fight The Darkling.[back to Ravka, so they can actually fight The Darkling. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this book had amazing world-building and a unique story line. I have great hopes for the second book!
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