Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha 1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Age Group: YA
Goodreads Rundown: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Review: So I finally went back and read the first book. Everyone said I had to and they were right. Everyone also said I would love the Darkling and understand why so many people want him to end up with Alina. I don't see it. The Darkling didn't pull me in much. Sure he sounds handsome and like he and Alina have a connect but he also sounds like a jerk, like a manipulative politician. I'm not a fan.
My perspective is obviously pretty different from people who read the books in order. Mal didn't come off as wonderful if as he would have if I had read this book first. I like Mal but don't think he and Alina should be together.
Beyond all the romance, I almost wish I had read them in the correct order because the world building is really great. The introduction to the Darkling and the Grisha was interesting.* The full history of the fold and it's potential future. All the great things I missed the first time around like that and the character. I enjoyed meeting characters I was supposed to know last time, seeing how they began and trying to remember how they end. It was also cool to see her training and know why she is so attatched to her mirrors (which I love way more now that I've read this book). The creatures in the shadows made more sense now as well.
This book did give me a bit of insight though - I think Alina is going to die in the last book. Normally I wouldn't say this, normally the mere idea of killing the protagonist would anger me, but not here. First, there is all that foreshadowing to prepare us. The stories of martyr saints, the constant alienation (which is, I think, why so many people love the idea of her with the Darkling - but I'll get back to this in a moment), the fact that she's the first and only of her kind, the weakness that has plagued her all her life, all the men chasing her yet no one is able to catch her. I also think that people love the idea of the Darkling because he would truly understand her, but really, there's no coming back from what he's done. There would have to some real finagling of writing to make this work and I think it might cheapen the story.
Alina and the Darkling need to take each other out, both die** some Shakespearean death. Hopefully he'll pray and she'll call to the caste stars before lighting him up like the last flair of a deserted islander. If they both die everyone in the world can move on with their lives but if she lives I'm not sure they can...without really upsetting reads anyway.
I'm excited to see what happens. It should be interesting.
*Was Bardugo inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender? The worlds are interestingly similar. I should admit I'm a bit jealous as I LOVE the Avatar world and have wanted to write a story in a similar type world but haven't figured out how to do so yet. Bardugo did and that's awesome.
**I should mention that I normally REALLY HATE when protagonist are killed off because I read for enjoyment or to learn. When I read YA I want to enjoy myself and even if the world is harsh I need that light at the end of the tunnel, the good ending. Without it I could just watch the news and get the same bleakness.