Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult Fantasy
Hardcover, 368 pgs.
Expected Publication of June 5th, 2012 by Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Borrowed ARC from the awesome Angela at Reading Angel
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, all she’s ever been able to rely on is her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’ve been sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.
When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. She is torn from everything she knows and whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes that she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the Sun Summoner. Only her power can destroy the Fold.
Overwhelmed by luxury, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to keep her wits about her without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her mastery of her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha—and the secrets of her heart.
I loved, loved, loved this book! Oh, you want a real review? That's not enough to convince you? Okay, I suppose...
My first update on goodreads was when I was at page 200. All I really had to say was "Holy canoli! This book is SO freaking good! It's gonna be hard to put it down to go to bed. I love a romance where you feel the vibe between two people but it's a slow build. I seriously hope this is a romance that happens cause the teasing is killing me! (in a good way!)" and then 50 pages later "Oh my, didn't see that coming! Major twist!"and then there were no more updates because I was so completely absorbed in the story I didn't want to set it aside for anything. Not even to rave on twitter (yeah, it was that good!).
When I started reading the book there weren't reviews out there. I wasn't exactly sure if this was a dystopian type of book or a fantasy. And it is most definitely fantasy! Totally and completely epic fantasy! And I love me some fantasy. One thing I love about reading fantasy is it almost always feels unique. It's a new world and new rules. You never ever know what to expect. And this book totally lived up to that. There were lots of twists that caught me completely off guard. I never knew where things might go and I loved that. I loved being surprised time and time again.
Alina was a great character. I loved that she was bold and strong even when she was weak and small. That might not make a lot of sense, but Alina starts out as nothing and becomes very much a something. She really truly finds her strength. And she's bold about her beliefs and I loved she was able to speak up when she knew others were wrong even before she found that strength inside her.
I'm afraid to talk about the other characters much because there are so many twists in them. I don't want to give away who is bad and who is good because the author did such a brilliant job of tricking us or making us think that maybe one isn't as important as we thought but then he was. She made it so you never really know who is good. And I loved that surprise and want that for you. I'll just say that I really felt like she did a great job in fleshing out her characters just right.
The pace of this book was steady for me. I had a very hard time putting it down and read most of it in one evening and had to force myself to put it down before the final conflict. I still managed to have insane dreams though... I loved that nothing really droned on in this book and I found it easy to follow. No complicated themes or political stuff. It was pretty simple as far as fantasy goes but yet I never felt was really lacking either.
Although the book seems to have a darker theme, especially in that description, it's not really as dark as it sounds. And I felt like it was pretty clean. I honestly cannot recommend this book any more highly. It started out with a bang and never let up. I'll be waiting very impatiently for the next book!