Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

So I’m a little behind on this one, but I figured since Siege and Storm’s cover was just revealed, a review of Shadow and Bone on Ever After Perspective would be fitting. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is one of those books that really had strong support from the publisher and wonderful marketing. Even the book trailer was pretty amazing and by far one of the higher quality book trailers out there (see other great examples like Immortal City by Scott Speer and City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare). Furthermore, the amount of detail and effort that went into the cover design really showed us the high expectations that Macmillan has for the Grisha series.

So with all the hype that came with the release of Shadow and Bone, I really expected the book to be pretty freaking spectacular. What I got, was a somewhat pleasant book about a girl playing with magic while trying to overcome her insecurities. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Shadow and Bone. I did. But was it the mind-blowing experience I was hoping for? Not really. I never got bored and I never hated it — there were even times where I was squealing with joy and biting my nails. But for some insane reason, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, the book didn’t appeal to me as much as I wanted it to. I wonder if anyone else experienced this.

ShadowandBoneShadow and Bone Summary

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo introduced us to a world of elite magic beings in a Russian-inspired setting. Alina Starkov is our awkward heroine preparing for her first trip into the Shadow Fold, a terrifying strip of darkness that harbors dangerous monsters. She has a crush on her childhood friend, the charming and popular Mal Oretsev, but has always felt out of place or forgotten with Mal being so popular among the lads and ladies.

I enjoyed all of the characters in this book except Alina and I think that’s probably why Shadow and Bone didn’t leave the kind of impression I was looking for. I felt like she was trying way too hard not to be a Mary Sue, but instead, became this mope of a girl who was always too self-conscious for her own good. I’m not asking her to go all Celaena Sardothien on us, but the majority of that time I wanted to shake the poor girl by the shoulders and be like, “Snap out of it, woman! Ugly or not, you’ve still got powers!” It seemed like everyone in this world was beautiful except Alina — as if only plain Janes can have an epic story in this day and age. Yet, Alina refused to believe she was special. It was quite frustrating.

But the world building was very nice. I enjoyed learning about the different Grisha orders and it reminded me very much so of Harry Potter and the different Houses at Hogwarts. I especially liked the Darkling and his interactions with Alina. For a moment, I was totally into the idea of the big bad mysterious masterful guy showing interest in our little ol’ Alina – the whole nerdy girl and popular guy thing. And I was totally convinced of this when the Darkling began showing some of his more vulnerable and boyish sides around Alina. I truly thought that something beautiful was going to happen between them. I really did.

Until freaking Bardugo brought back Mr. Charming-and-Popular-Best-Friend and threw all of the shenanigans with the Darkling out the window at the snap of her fingers. Mal oh Mal. I had completely forgotten about him after Alina was shipped off to the Royal Court to train with the rest of the Grishas. I mean deep down, I knew there was a pending love triangle just waiting to happen. What I didn’t expect was Mal to be so…Mal and swoonworthy when he did make that appearance. I mean, where did this guy come from? Sure I kind of crushed on him right alongside Alina in the beginning and my heart did skip a beat when he whispered, “I’ll meet you in the meadow,” to Alina when they were attacked in the Fold.

But gee whiz, I did not expect him to kick the Darkling out of the running that fast. The Darkling who was also insanely attractive and sexy. No way can the Darkling even compare with Mr. Mal! When Alina finally sees Mal again after being separated for months, I absolutely loved the way he acted towards her. Cold, bitter and jealous. Totally fitting and probably the only part in the book where I actually sat up and said, “Ooh, things are finally getting interesting.” To sum it up, Mal is the reason why this book is even on my radar. He won me over with his totally rugged human self and ability to say extremely romantic things in such a ‘manly’ manner. I can’t really describe it. It’s like the kind of love I have for Tucker Avery from the Unearthly series— just this intense human quality that stands out among the supernatural.

In some way or another, Shadow and Bone was interesting. But for the most part, I thought it was just “okay” overall. I didn’t care much for Alina or her struggles and I particularly didn’t care for her black sheep status while attending court. Thus, when Mal returned to spice things up, I was much relieved. In this case, romance did save the day for me. Most people love this book and I totally understand why. Bardugo has a strong premise and she’s an extremely good writer – I envy that. I did enjoy this book and I will read the next, I just hope Alina’s character will become stronger (Mal can stay the same) and that there’s more happening aside from the beauty and glamour amidst the Grisha. The music theme I chose for this book is The Ballet from the Anastasia soundtrack. It’s very magical and in a way, how I envision the scene with Mal confessing his love for Alina. Check it out!

Rating: 3/5

Music Theme: The Ballet from the Anastasia Soundtrack

Photo Credit: Photo as seen on Visualize us by Nicolas le boulanger

2 thoughts on “Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Woah…first review I’ve read that thought this book was, ‘okay’. I kind of agree with you about Alina being weird and whimp but I think she makes up for it in the second half of the novel. AND I LOVE MAL TOO! The way he’s all ‘I’m so pissed off with you. I can’t even’ towards Alina made me literally want to cry and force them to make up!

    Great review!

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