Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I'm going to stray away from my usual music-focused posts and do a book review today. This review is on debut novel from Samantha Shannon called The Bone Season. You may have heard the media calling this young author "the next JK Rowling" and such. I guess there are similarities - they are both from England, both writing a series that contains seven books, both writing content that has intricate world building, a load of unique characters, and a dynamic plot. I believe they even have the same publisher? But I think the comparisons end there. And I don't mean that in a bad way!

If you don't know anything about this book, here is the official excerpt:

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Alright, so let me get to the only negative part about my review. The beginning. Now I understand there is a lot of world-building for a story like this. I get it. But I have to admit that reading the first two chapters or so, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the information being thrown at me. I guess when the story includes a glossary of terms in the back, it is to be expected. So maybe I'm being too harsh. Still, I am an avid reader and it was a bit hard for me to keep up and interested in the story since I was learning so much background information and not really seeing what the big plot was to drive me on to read. 

But, listen. Read through it because it only gets SO much better from there. Once I passed through the info dump into the meat of the story and started to really learn about our heroine, Paige Mahoney, I couldn't stop reading. I finished the book late last night at three in the morning, wide awake, wishing that the second book was being released in a few days instead of only this first one, which I fortunately received an ARC for.

The rest of the story grabs you by the neck and doesn't let go until it has squeezed every emotion out of you. The world-building is fantastic. The danger to Paige is always escalating and changing, but never dormant. The choices she faces are horrific; yet, she takes them on like the fighter and survivor she is. The romance that blooms is unexpected and burns slow but oh-so-hot. There is only one real "kissing" scene and, my God, it was worth it. I felt my own anticipation for it bursting at the seams that when it finally happened I read it over three times just to relive it. It. Was. Awesome.

In terms of comparing it to the Harry Potter series, The Bone Season seems definitely targeted for a bit old audience. Now, I understand all-ages read Harry Potter but every book/series has to have a target audience base and I believe The Bone Season is targeted for an older crowd. It gets into government control and rioters and mass killings of a minority (clairvoyants). Also, we start out with Paige at eighteen/nineteen which is the very edge of the Young Adult spectrum. I really enjoyed the extra intricacies present because of this "older" setting.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I cannot stop thinking about the world Shannon created and the people in it. I want the next book in my grubby little hands NOW. This book is definitely going on my shelf to be read again and I'm fairly certain the rest of the series will soon follow it.

I can't do a review without my favorite here they are!

Danica. Our resident genius, second only to Jax in intellect. She was three years old than me and had all the charm and sensitivity of a sucker punch.

A den like ours was no place for ethics. It happens when you force a minority group underground. It happens with the world is cruel. There was nothing to do but get on with it.

The journalist called Scion "an empire in embryo." They'd been saying that for as long as I could remember. If Scion was still an embryo, I sure as hell didn't want to be there when it burst out of the womb.

I was not so much sweating bullets as shotgun shells.

He was the tallest of the five males, and beneath his velvet shirt, his chest was broad and strong. Wrapped around him was a strange, soft aura, overshadowed by the others in the room. He was the singly most beautiful and terrible thing I'd ever laid eyes on.

There are certain things in life that you never forget. Things that dig deep, things that nest in the hadal zone. I slept like a top, waiting for my brain to block the terror of the woods. Real sleep was my salvation, my escape.

"No, Paige. I am trying to help you.""Go to hell.""I already exist on a level of hell.""Exist on one that isn't near mine."

"You want to feel safe again." He stood, keeping the coffee table between us. "You want me to treat you as Thuban and the others treat their humans, because then you would feel that you had every right to hate the Rephaim. But because I do not harm you, and because I try to understand you, you run away. I know why, of course. You do not understand my motives. You ask yourself time and time again why I am trying to help you, and you come to no conclusions. But that does not mean there is no conclusion, Paige. It means you have yet to discover it."

I will never forget Warden's face when he saw me in the red tunic. It was the first time I ever saw fear in his eyes. It only lasted a split second. But I did see it, just for a moment. A trace of insecurity, softer than a candle flame.

When the door opened, I started. Warden was back. His face held all the shadows in the room.

In theory, London was everything I hated: huge and gray and stern, raining nine days out of ten. It roared and pumped and pounded like a human heart.

His brow creased the way book paper does.

And I could feel his hunger. Not for my aura, but for me.

Only a moment passed. I looked at him, and he looked at me. A moment. A choice. My choice. His choice. Then he kissed me again, roughly this time. I let him.

I wasn't sure what had happened over the last six months - whether any of this was real - but my heart was full and my skin was warm, and I wasn't afraid. Not now. 

The realization came slowly, like dusk encroaching on a star.

Has anyone else read this debut? Any thoughts or comments you'd like to share? This title is officially released August 20, 2013!


  1. Yeah I feel the same way as you. The beginning was a slog, and I sort of felt like the first twist with finding out what the true purpose for those in the tower was, should probably have been advertised. I don't think it would have been giving too much away to tell us that. If anything, it would have given me something I was reading toward. But from reading other reviews, it seems most people hit their stride 6-8 chapters in, and from that point there was no letting go! I adored the kissing scene too, and the twist that came later, shedding light on the back-story chapters. And the rooftop thing with Paige and Nick. And then pretty much everything that followed! Did not want the book to end at all and was hungry for more once it was done. Definitely one book that pays off if you persevere. I only hope other people do.

    1. For sure! There is a lot of pressure just starting the book when someone is compared to such a big hit like JK Rowling/Harry Potter. I hope that didn't influence me one way or the other but I have to say I am extremely glad I went on the finish it because it was such a good read. I'm hoping the books to follow will read like butter now that I know the world and don't need an info dump to understand everything.

      Thanks for the comment!