Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages Count: 432 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy
Warning* This is the second book in the series. Due to this, this will have minor spoilers to the first book. Continue on your own accord.
Shadow & Bone Review:
*Minor spoilers ahead*
Right off the bat, I was reminded why I don’t like Alina. I don’t like that jealousy aspect of this story that is prominent throughout the entire book between her and Mal. Mal since the first book has had girls falling head over heels for him, and it continues throughout this book. The whole thing with Zoya returns and though it wasn’t a very active part of the book, it was there and I think that it didn’t add any value to the overarching plot. Specifically because the Shadow & Bone laid out the fact that there was going to be a war, and that Alina’s role as Sun Summoner was going to be more important from that point on. So, adding the jealousy as a way to humanize the characters doesn’t work because it makes them a lot less relatable.
However, I do continue to enjoy how the Leigh Bardugo continues to create this complex web between Alina and the Darkling. Specifically when it comes to leading the Second Army, I like how Alina starts to display the same mentality as the Darkling. I thoroughly enjoyed how the scenes between Alina and the Darkling played out, and though I don’t like the Darkling, I do like that he makes Alina a more grey character. In a way, I think that their relationship does a better job at humanizing the characters than the jealousy between Alina and Mal.
I did also enjoy the talk about Grisha in general. How there is fine line between science and magic, and how a Grisha can meddle in both. I like how there is this growing rift between Mal and Alina because they are so different. Alina does hold power that is unlike any other Grisha, and it also sets her apart from other non-Grisha characters. Again, that whole mentality of like calls to like that is prominent through both of the books is so interesting to me. And its so well executed.
I will say that this book does meddle a lot in one of my biggest pet peeves and that is: powerful characters that don’t explore their power.
Alina has proven to be in par with the main antagonist of the story, but she never took that extra step in exploring her power to its full potential. And when she did, it was already so far into the book that I had lost interest. At that point, the book was about to end and I knew that there wasn’t going to be further exploration of her powers. And in general, I think this plays a heavy part in how she is characterized. Like, she and Mal have about zero character growth throughout the entire book. They are such stagnant characters and it is so annoying because you’re reading it in her perspective without other character’s insight.
The good news about all of this is: Nikolai.
What a character. I love him so much! He really did the heavy lifting in this entire book. Like wow, poor guy. As a character Nikolai is 10 out of 5 stars.
I love how he is portrayed as the too-clever fox, and how you can’t really trust him, but you want to. I also love how he ends up helping Alina play the role of a leader. Alina and him are polar opposites, so I really how he brings a different side of her. A smarter side of her that we don’t see anywhere else. I also love how he brings the humor in the story because we all need a good laugh while being stuck in Alina’s head for over 400 pages.
Finally, let’s talk about the big climax of the story.
Did it need to be that long? No.
A lot of it could’ve been cut out for the simple fact that it was a huge lover’s spat between Mal and the Darkling.
Was the actual confrontation between the Darkling and Alina good? Yes. It was amazing. One of my favorite scenes in the whole book. I feel like that scene is really where Alina embraced her power as the Sun Summoner.
Did Mal ruin it? Yes.
But you know…
Anything worth doing always start as a bad idea.My handsome boi Nikolai, pg. 101