Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Review News

Sorry for the unexpected sabbatical from blogging and book reviewing.  Work takes a lot out of a person especially when it’s close to the end of a semester.

Plus, I’m having some vision trouble.  My glasses needed to go back to the lab for repair and I’m working off the only other prescription glasses I own – my sunglasses.

It’s difficult wearing sunglasses at all times.  Though, they greatly reduce my eye strain when I view my electronic screens.

My next reviews will center on the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.  Like I’ve said in a previous review post, I’ll review each book separately instead of lumping them all together.

Shadow and Bone

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IMG_0008Maybe it’s apt that I write this review in the evening with my sunglasses on since the series deals with the never ending struggle between darkness and light.  I’m not saying the series doesn’t have an end.  If there wasn’t a definitive end, I’m sure fans of the series would be angry or forever waiting on the next book.  I’m simply saying there will always be many forms of media past, present, and future depicting the unending struggle between darkness and light.

After all, don’t we all struggle with the same battle inside ourselves almost on a daily basis?  It’s a human conundrum we’ll likely never find a general answer because the answer differs with each person.  Spontaneous philosophical moment aside, let’s get to the review.

Most of the great protagonists are orphans.  At least it seems like it, but they’re hardly ever perfect.  That’s a great description for Alina.

She’s a mousy orphan with no future prospects other than to join the infantry and fight a war.  Fortunately, she’s not alone because her best friend, Mal – who is a fellow orphan and love interest, is with her.

Like always, Mal is unaware that Alina holds a torch for him while he uses his insane good looks to sleep with women who fall at his feet.  They both are facing depressing futures of a lifetime and eventual death in the infantry.

Alina harbors a rare power, which she finds the strength to access when Mal’s life is in danger.  This draws the attention of the most powerful man in the kingdom, the Darkling.

She is taken away from Mal and the infantry to train with others who have special abilities.  Since the Darkling has a unique ability, he’s drawn to her.

The days pass and Alina grows stronger in her abilities and she grows closer to the handsomely enigmatic Darkling.  When Mal comes back into her life, truths are revealed making her question the Darkling.

I must address the gender stereotypes in this book.  The heroine pines after the handsome manwhore and rarely, if ever, exorcises her sexuality.  At the very least, she could tell the love interest she likes him and they deal with the fallout after.

Another stereotype is how Alina’s powers finally manifest.  As children, her and Mal were tested and found lacking any special powers.  When Mal’s life is in danger, Alina’s powers rush to the surface to save him.  This furthers the stereotype that loving a man brings out great power in the woman.

I do like Alina and her strength through this book, but Bardugo’s insistence of using typical gender stereotypes as Alina’s growth catalyst is disheartening.

Mal is the typical playboy.  He is the heroine’s best friend and doesn’t condescend to look at her any other way until she has power and is physically beautiful.  I love his fierce caring nature, but his shallowness eclipses his positive traits.  Woman aren’t worthy of love unless they’re powerful and beautiful?  Then people wonder why some young women are obsessed with their supposed flaws and suffer with bulimia.

The Darkling is also the typical handsome villain.  He seduces and misleads the heroine with his dangerously hypnotic presence.

Shoving all these gender tropes aside, the book is an exciting read.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages to see what would happen next.

When the book was in the library – where I occasionally work, I wondered why it wasn’t checked out more often.  It was even an award contender.

Now that I’ve read the book, I understand why more teenagers were reluctant to engage this text.  This read is steeped in concocted linguistic phrases that sound like Russian.  Bardugo doesn’t exactly channel Tolken, but for the causal reader, it can be a little daunting.

Despite the gender stereotypes, it was a start and made me eager to read the next book.  Though I did reserve judgement for bookshelf worthiness until I read the second book.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Untamed: A Splintered Companion by A. G. Howard
  • Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) by Cameron Jace
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    • Seige and Storm
    • Ruin and Rising

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.

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One thought on “Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. […] described this book a cross between Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.  I’ve read both and I would have to disagree with at least […]

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