Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, December 28, 2013

Plot Summary:
Growing up as an orphan, Alina has always felt different and that she would never fit in. After losing her parents in a great battle, Alina and Mal were sent to live at a nobleman's home, as an act of benevolence, and were taught how to read and write. In this realm, if one was an orphan it would be considered low so Alina never disclosed she was an orphan, nor did she tell anyone about the power that was hidden deep down inside. As a cartographer in the First Army, Alina and Mal are sent into the Fold where pure evil lies and it is a moment of desperation and fear that awakens the power within her. After the incident on the skiff, Alina is brought to the Grisha (the Second Army) who are not only the King's greatest weapon against the kingdoms that are attacking Ravka, but will help Ravka defeat the evil within the Fold. Alina has no recollection of what happened in the fold other than the fact that she and Mal are alive because of a blinding light. When brought to the Darkling (the leader of the Grisha), Alina is asked to demonstrate her power despite the fact she doesn't know how. With the help of the Darkling's power, Alina is able to show the Grisha who, and what, she is. Afraid of losing her to their neighbors, Alina is literally swept away in a carriage to be trained at the palace to become a Grisha. Although she has no desire to be away from everything she knows, and loves, Alina has no choice to fit in even if it means leaving Mal behind. Not quite what to expect, Alina learns that the Grisha are not only powerful, but the Darkling has plans for her, which include defeating the evil within the Fold and becoming an icon of hope for Ravka. The only problem is whether or not she can trust the Darkling and would she be able to control, and summon, the power within her. 

Critical Evaluation:
For her first novel, Leigh Bardugo has done an amazing job. Not only is this realm fascinating, it is absolutely terrifying and exciting. The setting, and staging of the story, is very reminiscent of Imperial Russia and I LOVE IT! I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a world that is constantly at war and that the very idea of hell separates one part of the country from another. Filled with terror, and beauty, Ravka, itself, is divided between the First and Second Army. The First Army is comprised of ordinary human beings are are given duties based on their abilities. Mal and Alina were put into the First Army thanks to their upbringing that saved them from an uncertain fate. In this world, being in the Army is what provides food, shelter, clothing, and security; without the Army, Mal and Alina wouldn't have anything nor would they be together. The Grisha (the Second Army) are comprised of individuals with unique abilities that seem magical. For example, some of the Grisha can manipulate wind and others can give life or . These elite members are highly regarded and if any child exhibits these particular traits are recruited and trained. For Alina, she was tested, but, as we learn later on, she suppresses that power because of Mal. As with any Fantasy, there has to be a romantic subplot. Mal and Alina grew up together in the orphanage and it is only natural that they would cling to each other. As with any friendship between a boy and girl, those feelings develop into something more and the thought of leaving Mal is what prevents Alina from exhibiting her powers to the Grisha who came to test them. However, when Alina meets the Darkling, she is not only drawn to his power, but it's the Darkling that helps her hone and use her power with his own. Alina is not only caught between Mal and the Darkling, she has to find a way to use, and control, her powers since everyone in Ravka is counting on her to destroy the Fold. Honestly, this is a lot for someone who just found out that they have the ability to bring an end to the horrors that have fallen upon her people, but, more importantly, it's even harder to chose between two guys have an equal hold over her heart. The ending will surprise readers, which gets them amped up for the sequel, Siege and Storm.  

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson. Occasionally, she can be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

She is the author of the New York Times Best Sellers, Shadow & Bone  and Siege and Storm (Holt Children’s/ Macmillan). The final book in the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, will be published in 2014. She is represented by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf.

Teen Fantasy,

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Shadow and Bone:
Awards & Recognition:
'Danger and duplicity abound (is the Darkling good or evil?) in this lavish portrayal of a country reminiscent of Imperial Russia."--VOYA

"Set in a fascinating, unique world rich with detail, Shadow and Bone was unlike anything I’ve ever read."  —Veronica Roth, New York Times bestselling author of Divergent

“Fast-paced and unpredictable, this debut novel will be a hit with readers who love dark fantasy.”--School Library Journal, starred

“Mesmerizing…Bardugo’s set up is shiver-inducing, of the delicious variety. This is what fantasy is for.”--New York Times

"A rich fantasy landscape, an inspired magical structure, and a gratifying emotional hook keep the pages whirring by until a final twist upends assumptions and lands us smack in the middle of a harrowing climax. "--Horn Book Magazine

"Filled with lush descriptions, intriguing magic, and plenty of twists, this memorable adventure offers action and intrigue mixed with an undercurrent of romance and danger.”--Publishers Weekly

“The plotting is powerful…”--Kirkus

"Bardugo weaves a captivating spell with lushly descriptive writing, engaging characters, and an exotic, vivid world. Readers will wait impatiently for the next installment.”—Booklist

“Romantic and magical…Plenty of plot twists and betrayals kept us enjoying this richly-crafted adventure until the very last page. (P.S. A do-not-miss for fans of Graceling.)" --Justine Magazine

A well-drawn world, full of deceit and mythology, populated by entirely believable characters. Full of truly surprising twists and turns, beautiful imagery and a protagonist it’s impossible not to root for, this is a great choice for teenage fans of George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien.”--RT Book Reviews

“This is one book series you want to get hooked on.”

“This gripping debut novel, with a touch of magic and romance, about two orphans thrown together during a century-old war will keep readers burning the midnight oil.” --Shelf Awareness

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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