Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Am Light

"The boy and the girl had arrived within weeks of each other,
two more orphans of the border wars,
dirty-faced refugees plucked from the rubble of the distant towns...
The boy was short and stocky, shy but always smiling.
The girl was different, and she knew it."
--Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone


Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co., 358 pages
Publication Date: June 5th, 2012
Find on Goodreads


So begins the epic first installment of Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone series. I had never realized it before but I am a SUCKER for fantasy novels. Why it took me so long to grasp this I shall never know. i grew up absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter and Narnia...what is wrong with me? Anyways, to add to the fantasy element, the entire novel is steeped with Russian cultural influence. The words, the clothing, the names, the feel of it. I'm not sure which part of it I love most. Maybe the names...no the clothing...I just don't know anymore. Doesn't matter it is all uh-may-zing.

So the story follows Alina Starkov who grows up as an orphan with her best friend Malyen Oretsev (see what I mean about the names? Glorious). They grow up in a land called Ravka where there are people called Grisha who inhibit special powers of different sorts, their leader is called The Darkling who yields the most power of all. The story picks up when Alina and Mal are teenagers serving in the First Army and about to cross this blackened stretch of land filled with winged and clawed creatures out for human blood known as The Unsea or The Fold. There is a FANTASTIC map of Ravka and its surrounding nations in the front of the book. Its beautiful, as is the depiction of The Fold, so creepy and cool. So during this crossing their caravan becomes under siege by these creatures and after being attacked and saved by Mal *sigh* she unknowingly emits a light from herself and saves everyone around her. She is taken by the Darkling for her protection and to the capital where the King lives as well as all the Grishas in training. It is here she tries to learn how to use her power, which goes horribly for her. From this point on I cannot tell you anymore because you MUST read it. Drama unfolds, heroes are unveiled and the mystery will continue...

For real. OK, I love Alina's character. She has the wonderful innocence about her that helps her to see beyond the political escapades of the court, like her friendship with Genya, a Grisha who is lower on the totem pole hierarchy of the Grisha.. She is the first person she encounters that is nice to her and helps her and she has no clue about the "proper" hierarchy of the Grisha. Alina sees her for who she is, not what color robe she wears. Love this! 

And she speaks her mind! She is a straight shooter and does not water down the truth or her thoughts no matter who she is talking to, especially the Darkling. Her gravitation towards him due to his interest is so endearing. As is her hesitation and disbelief that he could like her. She has spent her life being looked past and hopelessly in love in Mal. Finally somebody is giving her the attention she yearns for and she doesn't just throw herself into it. She is hesitant and doesn't lose her mind completely. This is awesome to me mostly because girls can be so incredibly stupid when it comes to stuff like this. She wants to let herself go but better judgement tells her to be a little more wary. Love. 

Oh! One random moment that I love love LOVE in this book is the confession of Genya about loving the quiet, nerdy David. Genya is supposed to be the most beautiful Grisha around and her heart belongs to a man who is odd, quiet and not particularly good-looking. I loved this about Bardugo's writing. It is such a subtle little part of the book but it spoke millions to me. That love can be physically blind. It doesn't matter how beautiful you are, it is the inside, the soul that cultivates and draws us to one another. Beauty fades but the inner self of a person is what makes you love them and stay with them for decade upon decade. It is so simple yet this concept is lost upon so many people. Weren't we all required to watch Beauty and the Beast as children? Just me?...okay. 

My other absolute obsession in this book is the one and only Mal *sigh*. He is just so amazing. He saves Alina, he sees her for who she is *finally*, and will go across Ravka and back again in order to find her. Always. :)

*SPOILER MOMENT* SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVE NOT READ! 

I love the moment Alina has with the Darkling in the tent when she begs for him to spare him. It is just so raw and emotionally driven I was tearing up while reading it. And then they sleep in the cell with the bars between them...oh I was just dying!! Too much! 

But wait a sec, let's talk about the Darkling for a second. I never really understood the villains that people love. Didn't do it for me. But the Darkling has changed my mind. He is dark, mysterious, sexy, unreadable yet at the same time has moments of tenderness and understanding for Alina. Was it all an act? I'm not sure. The first time I read it I was convinced it was all an act. But my second time through I think most of it was a means to an end but I really think he wants her to love him. I think he sees her as almost a kindred spirit that was meant for him above anyone else...and it KILLS him that she would choose a lowly tracker over him. Oh the sting of rejection can reach ever you Darkling. You are not exempt from love's brutal touch. My jury is still out on him. As a reader, I do not think he is beyond redemption, I think Alina can change him...but go home to Mal and have lots of babies at the end of the day...yeah I said it. Sorry. Too far?

This book is a fantastic fantasy adventure with an amazing world built around it. It was just as good if not better the second time through and the characterization in this very first book of the series is phenomenal. It can only get better from here and I cannot WAIT until the next book comes out! 

5/5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. That is so exciting that it's being made into a movie! I loved this book and think it could be a great movie! So glad there is a great producer lined up for it.

    Zaira Lynn (Ptarmigan Hunts)

    ReplyDelete

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