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

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I decided to go for a run in the gym…as I’m flipping through my Kindle trying to figure out what to read my eyes fell on The Grisha Trilogy, its was something I wanted to read for awhile, so I thought, this is as good a time as any other – while I was on my reading slump – as I pound out some miles on a machine in the gym? And the results? I finished the book!!! YAY!!! Amazing what a few days in the gym running on the treadmill can do to your reading slump issue 😀

Summary on Goodread

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.

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I wouldn’t go as far as to say the book blasted away my reading slump…I’m still unable to read outside of the gym at the moment. I will still give credit to the book that it has managed to keep my attention on it for 3 days.

My interest in the book started with all the noise on Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows…I debated whether I should just read Six of Crows or to start with her debut piece, so after some inquiries I decided to get the first book of the Grisha Trilogy, because I was told that it would help to better understand the universe.

What did I like about it…I’ll have to be REALLY honest about this but I just really liked the idea of magic being linked to sciences, how its not completely just magic out of thin air, but a type of manipulations of elements at its most basic form. I really liked that it wasn’t unlimited and that there were limitations and rules to their ability.

I also liked that she tried something new, she went out there and drew inspiration from Russia rather than going with the familiar Medieval European settings. Not that the familiar is bad, just this was different and it caught my interest. I don’t know anything about Russia, its history or its language so I cannot really comment about the authenticity of it, but I thought it was a good effort 🙂

As for issues I have with the book. I’m a character driven type reader and while the book was easy to read, I just couldn’t get into the main characters. Instead I was much more interested in the side characters. Alina and Mal were just sorta boring, if Alina was not such a special snowflake with her talents having been discovered so late in her life, there’s really nothing much to her. The same can be said about Mal, if he wasn’t one of her love interests, (and he was the typical stereotypical love interest type)…there isn’t much to say about him really. I also couldn’t get into the whole Darkling character, somehow isn’t the name/title Darkling a little too simple for a mysterious villainous character? Or am I picking on something that doesn’t need picking at? I guess I just had that question every time his name came up.

Another irk I had was all the catty females. They’re all beautiful but what is with all the hate, envy and jealousy? Perhaps aside from one particular character, almost all the female characters felt shallow and petty. You’re gorgeous, talented and magical…so where did all their humanity and humility go? I understand being under constant need to impress a superior would cause a person to grow competitive, but all the two-faced female characters just felt unnecessary.

I mentioned that I liked that she tried something new with creating a world using inspiration from Russia, but at the same time I felt a little disappointed with the world building…it somehow felt a little thin. I just wanted something richer and fuller and tangible; somehow I just felt something was missing although I can’t really put my finger on what it is.

In spite of all I mentioned above, I was definitely entertained. I’m unsure what it was that kept my attention, perhaps it is Bardugo’s writing but it managed to draw me in as I ran my frustration out in the gym.

Would I recommend this book to others? Perhaps for those who has never tried fantasy, this would probably be a good entry level reading for them. If there was a subgenre, I would call this fantasy-lite (I think I saw this term somewhere I’m not sure where, if you coined this term please do contact me so I can give you credit). For those who are hardcore fantasy readers, perhaps not…I feel there would be quite a bit they would nitpick on, it would not sate their need for a full fleshed out fantasy universe, the complexity of the quest and its character just wouldn’t be enough to satisfy them. This is just my opinion, of course.

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How about you? What were your reaction/impression of the book? Did you enjoy it? Do share!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Personally, reading Grisha before Six of Crows gave the world more substance (though you can totally read SoC without it). I think most people I’ve talked to can definitely tell her writing has improved immensely since Grisha and there are definitely no Alina’s or Mal’s in Six of Crows LOL (at least not to me).

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    1. Yeah, I was told I could read SoC without reading Grisha, but I thought why not go for the debut title to see what all the fuss is about 😊 I am probably still gonna finish the Trilogy just out of curiosity as to how it will end. I’m also still excited to eventually get to SoC…I’ve only heard good things about I’ve so far 👍

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