Shadow and Bone went above and beyond my expectations. I'd seen it all over the blog-o-sphere. Sparkling reviews, beautiful cover, nice title. But for some reason, I didn't pick it up. I'm thinking it might've had something to do with the book summary
Both the jacket and Goodreads summaries talk about: a land at war, a nasty piece of shadowy evil called the Fold, an orphan with a dormant power, and a magical race called Grisha. Sounds great, right? But I felt like I'd heard it before. The thing that finally got me was the brief mention of Mal and Alina's relationship.
And man am I glad I gave it a shot J.
Bardugo's debut may be a YA fantasy with adventure and magic. But at its heart, the book is a story about one girl, one boy, and the love they share for each other.
The two became best friends as children, forming a deep, unshakable bond. Bardugo does a great job of putting that friendship in jeopardy from the start. First orphans together, now army refugees, Alina and Mal have never been separated and are about to embark on a mission into the Fold--a place of complete darkness filled with flying monsters. I loved the scene where their ship was attacked. The descriptions of the volcra were on point and scary as hell. The writing really shined here.
And I was amazed at the connection I already felt to Alina and Mal. Her thoughts of him were honest and endearing--and sometimes humorous. When Alina is taken from camp to learn the ways of the Grisha, we get a nice dose of Alina's voice.
"It's probably for the best, I told myself. How would I have said goodbye to Mal anyway? Thanks for being my best friend and making my life bearable. Oh, and sorry I fell in love with you for a while there. Make sure to write!"--pg. 76
I loved that J. Later, we find out why Alina's been hiding her power all this time. The Grisha test everyone as children to see if they are capable of magic. Alina's test came up negative, and her reasons for this were so incredibly sweet I literally teared up.
Of course, the Darkling turns out to have ulterior motives for wanting Alina and her power. When she finds out about his plans, Alina makes a run for it--and as always, even after a long absence (too long imo), Mal is there for her.
"'Mal,' I whispered into the night.
'Thanks for finding me.'
I wasn't sure if I was dreaming, but somewhere in the dark, I thought I heard him whisper, 'Always.'"--pg. 263
There's one more line that I'm kinda desperate to include, but I won't. It comes near the end of the book (page 299) and is semi-spoiler-ish, yet completely swoonworthy J. Shadow and Bone was mind-blowing. The adventure and danger, betrayals and romance all well done. But I'd recommend it for the unique relationship it explores. Best friends in love who find a way to be together. Always <3.