Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Cover art for The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, pub. August 2013, 452 pg.

When I began reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, I entered the process with extremely high standards. Shannon was heralded as “the next J.K. Rowling” by The Telegraph, The Daily Mail. USA Today, Forbes and many other high-profile media outlets. In my eyes, there is no higher literary compliment.
While I didn’t think the book quite lived up to all the hype, it was still a very good novel and I look forward to reading more of the series, which is expected to be seven books long.

The Bone Season is really hard to sum up without giving too much away, so bear with me while I attempt to generalize.

Paige Mahoney is a clairvoyant in 2059 London – she can throw herself out of her body and travel the astral plane. Scion, the entity that runs England’s government, sees clairvoyance as a disease and known voyants are constantly at risk of being arrested and never seen again. It isn’t long before Paige discovers the real reason so many voyants have disappeared,
and she has to decide if it’s better to live as a slave to the mysterious supernatural beings behind Scion or to risk her life and rebel.

Paige is an extremely serious and complex character. She has lots of secrets, and her life is constantly at risk throughout most of the book. She has a prickly personality and doesn’t let people get close or trust anyone. I liked how strong she was, especially because she faces adversity left and right in many different ways. Her resolve to fight never wavers, and she’s constantly embroiled in emotional, physical, mental and spiritual battles.

While I really liked Paige, I found myself getting more attached to the secondary characters. Where Paige’s strength comes from her willpower and the barriers she uses to keep others away, her friends’ strength comes from how much they care about her and how far they would go to keep her safe. Paige’s courage is inspiring because it never fails, but her friends’ courage impresses me even more, because they are brave in spite of their fears and weaknesses.

Shannon created an extremely complicated world within this book. There is a great deal of slang specific to this version of London, and the intricate details she uses really make the story come alive. However, sometimes the amount of detail made it difficult to keep things straight. I didn’t discover until I’d finished the book that there was a glossary at the end, and I think if I’d realized that earlier, I would have had an even better reading experience.

The stand-out aspect of this book, though, was the intense action sequences. Shannon created fantastic, fast-moving fight scenes and battles. I usually have a hard time keeping action sequences straight while I’m reading them, but the ones in this book were phenomenal.

The Bone Season is an exemplary work of fantasy writing. While I wouldn’t go quite as far as other reviewers and make comparisons to J.K. Rowling or the Harry Potter series, I do think this book display’s the author’s talent and is a must-read for anyone looking for what is sure to be an epic series. 

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