Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon **Review**

The Bone Season
Series: The Bone Season #1
Pages: 452
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: 20th August 2013
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and 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.

My initial reaction to The Bone Season was definitely one of excitement. I knew it was mostly set in Oxford (albeit an alternative, future version of Oxford), and this being a city I both love and know fairly well, I was looking forward to seeing how it would be adapted for a fantasy novel. I was also quite excited by the idea of different kinds of clairvoyants, or voyants for short. Add to that that the main character was obviously in constant danger just for being what she is ... I was expecting to be immediately hooked. And I was. The beginning was instantly engaging. Straight away you learn so much about Paige, her abilities and how she puts them to use in the criminal underground of Central London, now known as Cohort I. The opening chapters are full of action, and it was fairly easy to get to grips with the world and its inhabitants.

 However, this soon changed. As the novel progressed and the world was expanded, it began to be difficult to keep up with all the information being thrown my way. There are so many different types of voyant, and so many different names for things, people etc that it was difficult to remember what everything was, despite a glossary in the back of the book listing a few of the terms. I'm not sure about the glossary, if I'm totally honest. If a book needs a glossary for the reader to remember what terms mean in the fantasy world, then I often think that it's been made too complicated, or that the story itself doesn't do a good enough job of explaining things in a memorable way. I did struggle to remember what certain types of voyants could do (and I'm not sure, having now finished the first book, that I could recall them if asked).
Saying that, however, the world building was incredibly rich. I loved the Oxford setting and how it was a sort of old-world mixed with something entirely new. Oxford had been preserved as it would have been during the Victorian era (the period in which the Rephaim were supposed to have come to Britain and taken Oxford over – two centuries before the beginning of the book). I would actually love to see a sort of prequel story set during the Victorian era – it could be quite fun to mix the story of the Rephaim with a Victorian atmosphere.

Paige's character was one that I had quite mixed feelings about. On one hand I liked her strength – I'm not sure I could have survived in the way that she did – but on the other hand, I did think that she was being quite naive at certain points in the story. Where certain things were clear to me, Paige was still questioning them, which I found quite tedious after a while. But she did feel like quite a well-rounded character, and I believed in her enough to want to stick with her through this first instalment of her story. I'll be really interested to see how she deals with what's coming next. Her power was also a really interesting one – she's the only 'dreamwalker' we're introduced to, and therefore the only character whose spirit can leave her body and influence the spirits and minds of others. This made her incredibly powerful, but it was interesting that she remained conscious of the responsibility that came with this, and that she even seemed reluctant to use her powers unless absolutely necessary.

Hopefully the next book in this series will prove to be a little less confusing than this first one. I'm also hoping that the plot continues to move in the same fast-paced manner as the final 80 or so pages of The Bone Season did (it was a little slow in places, but not enough to put me off reading).

All in all I gave The Bone Season 3.5 stars – there were far too many types of voyants and names for different things and this made it quite difficult to keep up at times, but despite this, I loved the world-building and the large cast of characters. It was an interesting take on fantasy, mixing alternative history with the future, all while keeping quite a recognisable feel to the world that made me feel instantly at home. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.


Denise @ The Bibliolater said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Personally I found it way too confusing - I got bored with all the info-dumps and world building in the start, so I found the rest of the book dragged too. I had to skim read over 100 pages in the middle, which just made me really confused in the ending. I liked Paige though!

Denise | The Bibliolater

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