Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon #reviews

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2013

In this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy, author Samantha Shannon envisions an alternative history where “unnaturals” – individuals with the ability to interact with and control spirits – are discriminated against. Many Western cities are under the control of an organisation known as Scion, which enforces strict rules relating to those who show signs of clairvoyance, or voyants, as they are also labelled.

We explore Scion London and its environs from the viewpoint of Paige Mahoney, who is a member of a gang of voyants who are at the top of Scion’s most wanted list. Her ability is perhaps the rarest, that of dreamwalking – someone who is able to leave her body at will and infiltrate others’ minds.

Anyone who controls her has a powerful weapon in their hands, and it comes as no surprise that she soon finds herself in the midst of a bigger conflict than she previously imagined existed.

We are introduced to the shadowy Rephaim, a magical race best described as somewhat between angel and vampire, and though they claim to have mankind’s continued best interests at heart, to protect them from vicious creatures called the Emim, their methods for doing so leave a lot to be desired.

I was a bit torn about The Bone Season by the time I reached the end. I’d heard a lot of hype about it, touting Shannon as the next JK Rowling, but I feel much of that hype hasn’t done much good. So far as debut offerings go, this is a strong entry into the genre, and Shannon’s style is certainly fast-paced, gritty and vivid. Yet I did feel the combat scenes fell a bit flat for lack of detail, and at times a few clich├ęd phrases slipped through (enough that I noticed it and was jerked out of my reading). Also, the ending felt a bit untidy, with what I felt should have been crucial interactions glossed over in narrative summary that could have amplified tension. That being said, the world building is detailed, and overall this is a suitable departure from the standard YA dystopian reads I’ve encountered so far.

The love triangle that does crop up isn’t as glaringly heavy-handed as I initially feared.

The Bone Season is an action-packed thriller that will twist readers’ expectations a few times before it reaches a suitably explosive conclusion, with enough loose ends present to hint at further instalments.

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