Book: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author/ Authoress: Samantha Shannon
The book (and the author) made headlines when Bloomsbury signed a six figure deal with debut 21-year-old authoress, Samantha Shannon, for The Bone Season series. Now everyone says that Samantha Shannon is the next J K Rowling. But can her books really live up to all the hype?
Was the cover supposed to signify something? Well if it did, I missed the memo. And I definitely wasn’t able to tell just by looking at it. So then it’s not really a meaningful cover, is it? It’s not pretty either. After reading the book, I can think of hundreds of more meaningful and prettier covers that could have been used! Sorry (actually, I’m not), but the cover receives only 1/5.
(taken from Goodreads.com)
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.
I really do love the premise of this book. The idea of a dystopian world caught my attention immediately (you know how much I love the dystopias) and then the fact that our protagonist was part of the criminal underworld further fascinated me (more about that in characters). This book is high in fantasy elements but Samantha Shannon mixes it in with real world history and even more realistic human characteristics. (For me, at least) This book was totally fresh and new! Although I worry if the plotline is rich enough for Samantha Shannon to stretch it out over seven books. I foresee a couple of filler books. Hopefully Samantha Shannon will prove me wrong.
Let me start with the MC. What do you expect from a girl embroiled in a crime syndicate? Her being a total bad-ass, maybe? But Paige isn’t. Not really. Sure, she has a big name – the ‘dream walker’ but she isn’t the kind of girl who’ll kill and use her powers mercilessly. Paige cares a lot for her fellow human beings. Especially the weak and the helpless. She helps them out and tries to protect them. (Although at times, the characters she tries to help out are really annoying.)So she’s neither completely badass nor completely weak. She’s realistic. She’s smart, but still makes a few careless mistakes. Again, realistic. It was easy to empathize with her.
The members of the Seven Seals, Paige’s gang, were very well-developed. Though, they don’t have large roles in the novel (hopefully, we’ll see more of them in the next few books). through Paige’s dreams we learn about each of their characteristics and quirks. I think this is one of the few times, introducing characters via dreams have actually worked.
That’s not to say the characterization in this book is flawless, though. Maybe it’s just me but I feel that Paige judges too quickly. Almost half the book is spent in her making judgements, getting proof that her judgements are false and then refusing to look past her biases anyways. Another thing that annoyed me was her devotion to her ‘boss’. J is neither a good character nor a kind one. Yet our MC who is wise in (almost) all else, panders to each of his whims…because he scares her and perhaps even more unhealthily, she feels that she ‘owes him’ .
The Warden: For majority of the book, we can’t get a read on him – at all. I remember he’s described as being emotionless, unreadable, etcetera etcetera. The only thing we knew about him for sure, was that he was engaged to Madam White Witch and he didn’t treat Paige as badly as he could have (although he treated her badly enough). So when he starts demanding trust in the book, I definitely didn’t want Paige to give it to him. In fact when she refused to give him an inch, I was like-
Of course, later in the book we find out that the Warden has many layers, he hates his fiancé, blah blah blah. But it was too late in the book for me to change my mind about him. And definitely too early for the romance.
Nashira: She’s like the typical Wicked Witch. She’s power-hungry, cruel and very, very menacing. I usually don’t hate the villains in books, but I made an exception for Nashira. Somebody pour water on her, already.
Samantha writes amazingly deep and passionate romantic scenes. It’s too bad they’re wasted on such horrible characters. Well not horrible characters exactly, but characters who are horrible together. The romance kicks in towards the very end of the book. Between two characters who don’t trust each other. With good reason- one of them was the other’s slave. And the slave spent most of the book hating her ‘owner’. Does this sound like the beginning of a beautiful new romance to you? If you’re anything close to sane, then your answer should be a resounding no. In my humble opinion, the book would have been a thousand times better without the introduction of a senseless and unhealthy romance.
Oh god! Do you want the good news first or the bad. Let’s start with the bad: Samantha infodumps in the clumsiest way possible. The infodumping takes so much away from the plot. For the first 100 pages or so, we’re treated to an intense study on the history and culture of London’s Sciron and then on the Rephiam’s . I felt like an anthropologist trying to dig my way through all the complicated terms and nonsensical slang. As Paige would say
There are certain things in life that you never forget. Things that dig deep, things that nest in the hadal zone.”
The infodumping in this book scarred me. Whichever book I review next, will probably get a better rating than it deserves in Worldbuilding just for not being like The Bone Season.
But the good news is that once you get to the 50% mark, there is no more new information to be dumped on you. Once you get to the 50% mark, you can enjoy an intense story and plot without trying to muddle out what all the words mean.
The relationship between
- Paige and her ‘boss’
- Paige and the Warden
Sufficient to say, she needs to find more peaceful, healthier relationships.
I might have been a little bit unfair with this book. I had high expectations for it. I really shouldn’t have bought into all that hype but the truth is, I did and I can’t take it back now. The Plot and the characters were amazing. But the Romance and the Worldbuilding severely detracted from the experience. Maybe if Samantha Shannon hadn’t been touted as the next J K Rowling (the bar was set unfairly high) and if the romance hadn’t been in the book at all, then this book may have gotten a full 5/5. But that’s not the case. So it merely get’s a 3/5.