Nov 14, 2016

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

TitleThe Bone Season
Authors: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publishing Date: August 20, 2013
Pages/Format: 466, Hardcover
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The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Book in One Word: Off-Season

The Bone Season was one of those hyped books that I'd get around to eventually but was never really a priority. (Hey, at least I own it.) I finally got around to reading it when I was in the mood for an adult fantasy or sci-fi (though I'm not sure if this is really "adult") and when I posted a poll on Twitter and asked what I should read: this or Red Rising. (I was leaning toward the latter, personally.) By reading The Bone Season I was able to check a book off the list of Oh My Gosh Rachel, Read The Damn Book Already books, and I was kind of excited: the majority of readers seemed to love The Bone Season, so perhaps I was in for a treat. But I should've known better.

I've noticed a personal trend in what I read: more often than not, it would seem, if most people love a book, I most surely will not. Part of it may be the Hype Monster, but hyped books just don't work out for me. The Bone Season is most definitely one of those cases. It's one of those books that I read and wonder why. Why does everyone love this book? Why is it so hyped? Why am I not getting that? I mean, The Bone Season wasn't bad or anything, and I guess it was good (said in a nonchalant tone), but it wasn't great. And it didn't help that I had a few issues with it.

First and fucking foremost, there's a whole entire dictionary of new/uncommon terms in the first chapter alone, and if that's not an info-dump then I don't know what is. The first couple of chapters were a struggle to get through, were super befuddling, and they made me consider putting the book aside for an indefinite amount of time. There is, in fact, a glossary at the back of the book, which is great and all. BUT, if I wouldn't have been told about it, I wouldn't have even known it existed until the book was over. (And even then, I didn't want to peek and see an accidental spoiler.) So really, it's not that helpful. (And some of the definitions could use more defining, in my opinion.) Because the world is...I don't even know what it is. I kind of imagined some of it (well, the London part) like the trailers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But the other setting--Oxford--and what goes on there? Totally unexpected.

I'll read a book's synopsis when I first hear about it, and if I'm interested I'll add it on Goodreads and probably never really look at the synopsis again so that I can go into the book knowing (and remembering) very little. It's clearly been eons since I read The Bone Season's synopsis, because I wasn't expecting a single page or word of this. I don't even know what I thought it would be about, but clairvoyance and some alien race (like, the fuck?) wouldn't have even been on my list of considerations. So maybe that took me by surprise and made grasping the story a bit harder, but I still missed the point of the book that was supposed to make me go "Wow, this book is good. I get it." That's not to say I didn't like The Bone Season once I got into it and pretended to understand various bits and pieces and terms, or that I didn't enjoy reading it. It felt like a lighter, more basic fantasy (even though the world building was far from basic), and I enjoy reading those. But as far as all the love and hype and fuss goes? I'm sorry, but I don't get it.

All that said--I do want to read The Mime Order. (Remember, I did say this wasn't a bad book.) I got some Six of Crows vibes from The Bone Season, which I liked, and parts of the story were intriguing. And despite the fact that it's clearly going to do a series trope/stereotype/whatever that I hate hate hate, I want to see more of Warden and what happens with his character and other things. I'm still trying to understand Paige's world and her place in it, and I'm compelled enough to give the sequel a shot. I can just hope that it'll make up for its predecessor and show me the why and the love and hype and fuss for this series.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Nope.
Would I reread it? Ehhh.
Would I purchase it? If I didn't have it I can't say that I'd be in any need for it.
Who would I recommend it to? Lovers of lighter and enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/whatever this is reads with various magical and mystical and universal elements.

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