Book Review: The Bone Season

3star

Title: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3.5/5

Series? Yes, 1 of 7

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While I really enjoyed The Bone Season, I felt for every single positive I could list for the book, I found another negative as well. I am just so conflicted about all my reads recently! For this review, I’ll discuss both the goods and the bads to the various factors in the book.

The-Bone-Season

There was no normal. There never had been. “Normal” and “natural” were the biggest lies we’d ever created.”

The Detailed Worldbuilding

I have seen this book touted as fantasy, although I would hesitate to classify it as such. It strikes me more as mix between paranormal romance and dystopia. Set in an alternate 2059 where Oxford is supposedly a wasteland, and the world is teeming with supernatural abilities – the book’s premise is incredibly promising.

“I didn’t believe in hearts. I believed in dreamscapes and spirits. Those were what mattered. Those made money.

The Good: The world is incredibly complex, with the world being separated into ordinary human beings and those gifted with otherworldly abilities. The latter are seen as a pest upon society by the Scion – a tough and merciless government agency also responsible for banning books and other leisures. It’s obvious the author has spent a lot of time constructing her world, she has charts and appendices showing the world’s hierarchies. Even within the voyants (the book’s term for those with supernatural abilities), there’s almost FIFTY different kinds.

The Bad: Although the scope of The Bone Season was commendable and ambitious, I felt completely confused for the first half of the book. With new terms like ‘voyants’ and ‘Floxy’ thrown at me every which way, I found myself constantly flipping back to the appendices to get my bearings. There are so many different kinds of supernatural beings and happening, I got whiplash from trying to differentiate them all. Then there’s the Rephaim, entities that are strange mix between aliens / vampires / fallen angels. who’s ever increasing list of abilities still flummoxes me. What’s worse: behind the trappings of the fancy new terminology and pretty charts, there’s no unique idea in the construction of this world. We have gangs, we have non-human evil overlords, we have caste system, we have the usual otherwordly abilities. Despite its ambitions, the world fails to make a memorable mark. I hope with future books, the world will become more independent and well-realised.

The Love Interest

“The light from his eyes made the shadows deeper. There was something different about them: something raw, something volatile.”

The Good: It’s cliched, but I enjoy his character’s archetype, the dark and mysterious male with blood on his hand -but the will to do good. I liked that while he was cold initially, he was never cruel to Paige. While I thought that his relationship with Paige was the most obvious thing the book could have done – I appreciated that neither became consumed by their attraction to one another. Paige still cared for other characters in the book and had motivation wider than getting it on with Warden. Similarly, Warden has agenda that’s far from romantic in intention. People with their own lives? They rock!

The Bad: Again, it’s the issue with originality. We have an ancient supernatural being, inexplicable drawn to a teenage human girl. I couldn’t understand the chemistry or the attraction between Paige and Warden. Their relationship followed a very predictable trajectory: she dislikes him at first; then comes the grudging physical attraction; insert some hurt-comfort and sudden understanding: boom – a beginning of romance.

The Plot

“Nothing’s worse than a story without an end.”

Similarly to the world building, the book presented a complex plot – alternating between Paige’s current mortal danger and her past. Along with Paige’s journey, there are numerous little plot threads all intertwined.

“My father thought I would lead a simple life; that I was bright but unambitious, complacant with whatever work life threw at me.
My father, as usual, was wrong.”

The Good: There’s a real sense of history to the world due to The Bone Season owed to these multiple story lines, interweaving together. We see Paige’s predicament as a symbol for the wider mistreatment of humans – especially voyants – in her world. The reader also gets to see hints of the past involving how Scion came to be, and how The Rephaim figures into this world. Paige’s past was especially riveting, thanks to layered characters like Jaxon and Nick.

The Bad: This series is intended to be seven books long! I don’t see how the plot I’ve seen in The Bone Season could possibly be stretched for that length. I’m nervous about the appearance of filler books – but if Harry Potter could achieve it, I guess I should give this series benefit of the doubt.

Overall, I’m invested enough to continue with the series despite the reservations I’ve had. Have you guys read the book? What did you think?

52 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bone Season

  1. I haven’t read this book yet, I thought it’s a stand-alone but now I’m surprised it’s going to be a long series. Maybe it will build on the plot and the fantasy as it goes along, and from what you said about the author’s detailed world-building technique, it would be fun to see where she’s gonna take it. 🙂

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  2. I didn’t love it either, it was just TOO MUCH. Too many characters, too much going on, I think in my review I said it was over crowded and needed editing. It makes me tired to think of reading all 7 books! Although I have heard reviewer’s say they like book 2 more:-)

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    1. Lets hope the books improve with time, I’ll give the second and third a go, but if it doesn’t stick I’ll bail haha.

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  3. ALL. THE. QUOTES. THOUGH. Simply too good to resist *adds to TBR* But I think that for the mislabelled genre, it could just be that publishers see dystopian as a dead genre but it’s actually being revived under other labels? I do have that feeling sometimes. I’m not super bothered about lack of exposition because some of my fav series e.g. His Dark Materials totally skip over exposition as well and I’m normally fine. But the bad boy archetype … *sighs* C’mon, we can do better than just that.

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    1. Don’t be fool by the quotes, most of the writing is… not like that XD! It is quite impressive for a debut book though, I have high hopes for the rest of the series. I still javen’t read His Dark Materials though, for shame!!

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  4. I absolutely adored this book Aentee, but I do agree with you on the world. I spent a good chunk of the beginning thoroughly confused as well, even with the help of the glossary. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the next book, the world is still a touch overwhelming, but I thought some very interesting things happened:)

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  5. I’m with you on every point, Aentee. I liked the book, but like you I felt like there was a balance between the good and the bad for me as well. I’m especially overwhelmed by the length of the series. And yes, the book was super confusing in the beginning. There wasn’t a nice flow to the world building unfortunately. I still want to try the rest of the books though. I just hope there is enough story to actually tell over the course of 7 books.
    Wonderful review!

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    1. The 7 books thing is super daunting, the only series of that length I’ve managed to stay invested in is HP XD! I will check out Mime Order, hopefully it’s an improvement!!

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  6. I loved this book so much. There are a few things that make it difficult but I got over it pretty quickly. I also loved the second in the series, The Mime Order. It built on the first and added more intrigue and danger.

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    1. You should look into it Ashley, despite my issues with it, it’s still a decent read and really quite an impressive debut.

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  7. I’ve been on the fence about this book for a while now. The premise sounds really interesting but the fact that it’s the first in a 7 book series put me off a bit. I may have to set this one aside for now and possibly revisit it when there are a few more books out. Great review. 😀

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    1. Wow, it’s been waiting for a while then XD I actually have owned this book for two years as well, but only got around to reading it recently haha! Hope you end up enjoying it.

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  8. I haven’t read it, but the question of originality seems to be important as far as this book is concerned. I wonder if your feels of meh-ness about it stem from the fact that – from what you’ve said – it sounds to be like every other book out there like it. That doesn’t make it bad, but it’s harder to get total emotional investment when you’re rolling your eyes at the cliches.

    I hope you find something that makes you feel excited about reading again soon 🙂

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    1. There are a lot of misses in the book, that’s for sure. But there are still some elements interesting enough that I think I’ll keep going!!

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  9. THANK YOU! Everyone loved this book when it first came out and I didn’t get on the bandwagon until book two was coming out and finally read it and was just confused why so many people loved it so much. The love interest felt so cliche and forced into the end since I really didn’t see any chemistry during the main plot of the book. I’m all for complex worlds, but I feel that they should be built slowly and this was just too ambitious for a first book. I just haven’t felt compelled to continue yet, we’ll see if I do!

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    1. There was loads of hype, I actually bought the book two years ago – then I saw a load of unfavourable reviews so I waited until now to read it XD I think I’m still invested enough to try out Mime Order!

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    1. I hope you find a book you love soon, Emily ❤ I saw on twitter that you have quite a nice haul on twitter this week 😉

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  10. I was so conflicted about this book too! But then I went on to read the second. I think both books provided an enjoyable enough time, but whether or not “enjoyable enough” is going to carry me through the whole series, I have no idea. After all, like you said, it’s SEVEN books. Wow. I guess I’ll make my decision after book three.

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    1. If Mime Order doesn’t improve on this, I’m not sure if I’ll have the energy to continue on XD there’s too many other books I would rather be reading than just trying to plod through SEVEN books.

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  11. I still haven’t read the sequel yet! And I feel like I forgot everything about the first one lol. I liked it overall but I felt like the dialogue was really stilted and the only avenue for worldbuilding so that was kind of annoying. I also thought the side characters were a little lacking but then the main characters themselves were kind of lacking in personality too. I really liked the supernatural system though.

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    1. Hahaha I had forgotten quite a bit of the book by the time I wrote this review, it was quite unoriginal wasn’t it. And I can’t understand half the slangs they were using!

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  12. Fantastic in depth review on this one Aentee! I loved it because of the unique and complex world that had been constructed. I do agree it was a bit of an info dump though. The Mime Order really expands the world and I hope you’ll read that one too because it gets epic!

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  13. Aentee! I’m so glad that you read this book, and not only that, but you’re open to give the series a shot despite the first one’s shortcomings. I, personally, LOVED this book. I know it was a little info-dumpy and confusing initially, but the second one was not that at all. The second one was a lot more cohesive since the readers were, for the most part, well-acquainted with the world-building and jargon. I really hope you get your hands on the Mime Order soon. I thought it was better than the Bone Season since it was a lot less predictable, and a lot more complexities are introduced as the story moves into urban London. Gah. I just get so excited when people read favorite books of mine. xD

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  14. No I have NOT read The Bone Season yet, but it is on my shelf. It sounds like the world suffers from having ALL THE THINGS. Which kind of sucks because I was looking forward to reading without having to look back in the glossary/appendix. It disrupts my reading time 😦

    Are you going to continue on with the series or no?

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    1. I think you should still give it a go if you’re interested, as I definitely still plan to check out The Mime Order 😀

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  15. I’ve been wanting to read this but I don’t want to commit to a 7 book series… I bought this and The Mime Order for a friend for her birthday so she could be the guinea pig 😀 I’m glad that the world is really vast (even though it seems to have everything you could possibly imagine in it), since it’s intended to be such a long series. Hopefully the plot isn’t too draggy, but I’m sure the author has an idea of where the story is going to go if she’s committed to writing 7 books.

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    1. Hahahah good idea, I will read the next book as well so I’ll be a guinea pig with you 😉 I hope to see more of a coherent and larger plot by the next book!

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  16. I’ve seen some mixed review on this book. After reading your review I think it’s not for me. I don’t like when the author dumps on me a lot of terminology and so many different kinds of supernatural beings and happening. I also don’t like how the romance sounds. And the last, seven books seem like a big commitment to me. I start such long series only if I 100% positive in my expectations, which is not the case here. Thanks for your thorough review, Aentee.

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