I don't think there are really any spoilers in this "review", but be wary anyway.Keywords:
Powers, light, summoning, castes, fantasy, young adult, teen, love, darkness.
Sentence: I sentence Leigh Bardugo to making me look half as pretty as Genya. I guarantee it'll take hours. Get to work!
Review: Take a fraction of the complex politics of A Song of Ice and Fire with a folk-ish and historical feel of Eastern Europe, as well as the influence of Asian culture and you have Shadow and Bone.
I was impressed by Bardugo's mastery of making you believe in all these other cultures and languages, let alone monsters and beings of power. For damnation's sake, I wanted to see the frakking clothes they were wearing, so I could better understand keftas and whether these Grisha were actually wearing what appeared to be Japanese boys' school uniforms with coloured capes (I think my mind twisted the descriptions a little).
I guess maybe that's why I can't take anyone seriously, but sort of can. It doesn't help that the main duo are being chanted in my head as "Al and Mal. Al and Mal. Al and Mal."
Anyway, there were similarities to other fantasy and YA fiction, but not to an extent that I disliked it. Alina's relationship with the Darkling seems kind of like a submissive-dominance thing; appearing to give them both a thrill, which I guess will appeal to the Fifty Shades crowd. Oh yes, ladies, there is even a collar involved. But that is the extent of the similarities to that fodder.
I think my only issue with it was how Alina failed to see that someone with the title DARKLING could be evil. Let's get real for a second... Actually, I really thought him harmless for like two pages when I misread "Darkling" as "Darkwing" and forever the handsome 120 year old now looks like this in my head:
I seriously need to know whether keftas can include capes. You can whip them about snobbily.
I think I need to take a break from any young adult fantasy. I'll dunk my head in some overrated, hedonistic teen romance. That'll give me some perspective, I'm sure.