Sadie Hawkins Review #99: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Review #99: The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA on August 20, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It 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.

Recommended by: Debby (Snuggly Oranges and apparently my Sadie Hawkins master)

After reports of The Bone Season came back mixed, I decided I didn’t think it was for me. I removed it from my to-read list and put it from my mind. Debby, however, read it and fell in love with it, most especially with the ship. She put it in Sadie Hawkins and, shortly thereafter, I received two copies of the paperback from Bloomsbury. That decided that. The Bone Season was very much not what I was expecting, not in a bad way, but it really did surprise me. I’m actually very grateful that Debby and Bloomsbury got me to try this book, because I really liked it, if not necessarily in quite the same way Debby did.

When this book first sold, I remember people talking about how this series was going to be “the next Harry Potter,” which I don’t get at all. I think this is maybe meant to have seven books in it, but otherwise they have nothing in common whatsoever, aside from being fantasy. The Bone Season, for one thing, is very much not a middle grade series. There’s crossover potential for YA, but I’d call it adult or new adult if you consider novels without sex to be new adult. Also, this novel is massively dark. If it’s like Harry Potter, it’s sort of like it’s starting in the last few books where everything was dark and gloomy.

Meg (Cuddlebuggery) and I talked a bit about this book before I started reading and she said what she liked about it was how dark it was. Meg wasn’t kidding. The Bone Season is brutal. Lots of death and pain. There’s scarcely a happy moment in the whole book. It could have easily been an unrelentingly depressing novel, but somehow it wasn’t. That, I think, is due to Paige, the heroine. Paige fights hard and never gives up in the face of anything. She’s not always smart about it and is often lucky, but her determination that she’ll make it out to something better doesn’t make the novel feel as depressing as it could.

That said, The Bone Season could have been much more painful. I didn’t care about most of the cast all that much. I’m invested in Paige and Nick and sort of the Warden, but didn’t care one iota about any of the rest of them. In fact, I found the rest of the characters she dealt with pretty much indistinguishable. This is one of those books where everyone’s very focused on survival and so people never talk about their interests or make jokes. Without that sort of stuff, characters don’t feel real to me. Only those three really came to life at all in my head.

Back when reviews were first coming out, I’d heard that The Bone Season was dense, slow and full of info dumping. Obviously, those are very subjective designations, but I didn’t find The Bone Season to be info dumpy at all. Certainly there’s a lot of world building, but it didn’t strike me as clumsily delivered. At no point was I bored or did I feel like I was slogging through. The world Shannon has built does smack of traditional dystopian fare, but also goes beyond that. I’d like to talk about it more, but frankly it’s spoilery. The voyants were not quite like any I’ve read about and I just really liked the originality of the system.

The romance hasn’t been a huge thing yet and I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, it has this Beauty and the Beast vibe, which totally gets me. They’re enemies and don’t trust one another at all, but through time cooped up together, they start to trust one another. I like that it evolves slowly and that the trust comes first. He’s even a fairly good guy. I don’t not ship it, but I don’t know that I really see much of a future in it. He’s not under a curse that love will cure, so I’m not sure what happy ending is really possible here. Then again, I’m not sure if Samantha Shannon really deals in happy endings.

The biggest compliment I can pay is that, aside from some characterization issues, I really don’t have anything to criticize about The Bone Season. There’s a lot of room for the series to improve from here and I am now super excited for The Mime Order. Bring on the pain, Shannon.

Favorite Quote:

“That is trust, Paige. Not knowing whether you should trust at all.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif sad beauty and the beast

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4 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Review #99: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon”

  1. asdfjal;skgajsdfalsdgj;eritjlj

    *dead*

    *resurrects*

    I’M SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW :’)
    4 stars
    Sadie Hawkins master
    PAIGE IS THE GREATEST
    EXCELLENT WORLD BUILDING
    (fine you don’t ship it whatevssss)
    TOTAL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST VIBE HELL YES
    NO CRITICISMS

    I WINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…The Lunar Chronicles Blog Tour: The Lunar Sims (+ Giveaway!)My Profile

  2. Meg says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAAH I forgot that people were calling it the next Harry Potter. Like, hut? Why? (the seven book thing is the only, ONLY, similarity I can see).

    Also agree about not super caring about the characters. It’s been awhile since I read it but I recall only really giving a shit about Paige (<3 you Paige). (I don't even remember who Nick is which says more about my brain than his memorable-ness).

    Ah the ship. I feel you on the BatB thing and I like the tortured, angst enemies bit. My issue is that I can't get on board with the dynamic between them. I have issues with [spoiler] type of ships and while sometimes they work for me, this one didn't. I think it's because this book is so dark and this world is so brutal, I can't look past the obstacles and just let my principles go and ship it? Idk. Also this is really hard to talk about without specifically saying why I don't ship it (i.e. the spoiler).

    That said, the ship could end up working for me, who knows. I do like how it's not a big feature of the book though. I love me some romance and all but this book is bigger than that. There's too much shit going down and pausing every few pages to make out would get people killed (or undermine the the darkness of the book, imo).

    GAH THE MIME ORDER I WANTS IT I WANTS IT NOW.
    Meg recently posted…Blog Tour: There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake + GiveawayMy Profile

  3. Nori says:

    So, I kind of put this one aside too. I got an ARC at BEA a couple of years ago, but I read a whole bunch of negative reviews that kind of persuaded me to take it out of my TBR pile. You may have persuaded me to give it a try after all.
    Nori recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (124)My Profile

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