Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Series or Standalone: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Leigh Bardugo – Website
Leigh Bardugo – Blog
Rating: 3 stars
I feel like I went into this book with very high expectations that it did not meet. Everywhere I looked prior to publication of this book I saw glowing reviews of this book and was super excited to read it. Shadow and Bone seemed right up my ally, and it was a YA fantasy to boot, so I couldn’t wait to read it. However, I was a bit confused about how I felt after I finished and a bit disappointed.
I liked the first half of the book, but I felt that the second half of the book fell apart for me. The pace seemed to accelerate in the second half and everything Alina knew up to that point seemed to go out the window and we were supposed to side with her. I wish that when Alina changed her mind there was more explanation.
I feel like this book really could have benefitted from a slower pace and more world building. With fantasy, world building is key and I really wished that this book had a bit more of it, especially with it being the first book in a series. I wasn’t too sure about this society and land that Alina was from and would have liked to learn more about Ravka before diving straight into the story.
Alina felt like a very flat character to me as well. I liked her, but I didn’t understand why she made the decisions she did. She was very one-dimensional and lacked a strong personality. I really wish she was a bit more developed because it would strengthen the book as a whole.
The Darkling was definitely my favorite character. He had the most engrossing personality and definitely was one of the main reasons I kept reading the book. He was surrounded by mystery and I really enjoyed trying to figure out what he was all about. Was he good or was he bad? I still think it could be up in the air and really want to see more of him.
I really would have liked to see more character development with Mal as well as with a lot of the other secondary characters. Mal, like Alina, felt flat. I feel we didn’t know enough about him to fully appreciate him as a character or become attached to him. Alina liked him but I couldn’t fully see why.
I finished this book and the first thought I had was “huh.” I will probably be sticking around to see what happens next as I did enjoy the story and want to see what happens next, despite the issues I had with the book. Hopefully in the second book, we will learn more about Ravka, the Grisha and Alina’s world as well as see more character growth. I just wish this had been a strong fantasy.