Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Series? Yes, 1 of 7
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.
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.
“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?