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.
LONG STORY SHORT:
This book totally lived up to my expectations and everyone's raving reviews. The story was very unique - a dystopian fantasy kind of world with completely new "never seen before" story elements and creatures. The plot was gripping, fast paced. I couldn't put the book down. Very important for me: no over-the-top romance, but a few sparks flying in the sub-plots. I liked the main character Alina, too, who was very real and never your stereotypical heroine.
I don't think I have to explain why I wanted to read Shadow and Bone. Basically it was because everyone has been raving about it for months before it was even released...
...and they turned out to be right. I can honestly say that I haven't read such a good book in a while. The world Leigh Bardugo created was just so epic, detailed , so different from many other dystopian or fantasy worlds.
Shadow and Bone was fast - paced and although it involved a lot of traveling - which I actually don't like in books - it was never confusing or boring. I as a reader was able to feel the main character Alina's emotions, so that I felt more like a part of the story than like I was just reading it.
The characters. Oh my, the characters. They drove me insane at times because I never knew who had which intentions. It was a roller coaster! At some point I rooted for that person, then for that person. Just like Alina, I didn't know who to trust. In addition to that sometimes I felt like I wanted to trust someone just because they were so nice and caring although I knew better.
The process of Alina's power revealing was very well done. I still find myself thinking about it. It was on the one hand explained with fantasy - elements and on the other hand it felt like a process we all have to go through at some point. Alina had to grow a bit as a person in order to go through that change and I love when dystopian or fantasy novels do not neglect the challenges every teen faces - even if they're busy saving the world :)
All in all? Go read that novel. Now. Everyone.