When I first heard that Samantha Shannon made a huge book deal for a new series being described as the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, I was impressed. (Actually, I first lamented why it wasn’t me??? But whatever.) That’s a pretty big statement to make, seeing as how it raises expectations to obscene heights. No doubt, my expectations were quite high for The Bone Season. The premise sounded interesting, and it was clear that the publisher felt very confident in it since it was receiving a pretty big marketing campaign.
I was sent an advance reading copy back in April and started reading in May. I finished the book during the last week of July. It’s not that it’s a long book or very boring. Mostly, it was that it took a while for the book to truly capture my interest. Another reason is that I have a very busy book reviewing schedule, and I was cheating it by picking up this book so early. Still, the fact that it took so long for me to finish it says a lot. The Bone Season is well-written and entertaining but it also feels a bit familiar.
The Bone Season is the first of a seven book series and follows Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant—in particular a dreamwalker. Dreamwalkers are rare, but that’s not precisely why Paige is in danger. Being a clairvoyant in general is considered treason in Scion London, a futuristic version of London that has decided to unrightfully arrest and imprison clairvoyants. Paige’s abilities are valuable though, so she finds herself working in the criminal underground. She makes good money and manages to stay out of trouble from Scion. Until one day an encounter goes terribly wrong and Paige is captured and imprisoned; only she’s not taken by Scion but by something even worse.
Samantha Shannon builds this fantastical and futuristic world with detail. The first few chapters will have you feeling overwhelmed, trying to figure out not just the types of clairvoyants, but the slang they use as well as other parts of this future society. In that case, I absolutely recommend watching the book trailer because 1.) It actually helps with comprehending the story’s initial premise and 2.) It’s pretty good for a book trailer. Once you get into the rhythm of things, it all flows smoothly and it’s hard not to marvel at the impressive world building that Shannon does.
However, the narrative at hand starts off slow. Paige is good character to follow–likable enough while being determined and kick-ass–but her journey in this book feels very similar to other heroines’ journeys. Whereas this world definitely stands out with its uniqueness, the plot doesn’t as much. Maybe it’s too busy setting up for the next 6 books?
Even if the plot is a bit of a letdown, it does manage to surprise in many instances and provides several inklings of potential for the series. If anything, The Bone Season gets you invested in its characters, which is an important thing when starting a series. If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, why would he or she care what happens to them next? I commend Shannon on her characterizations. I especially loved the flashbacks into Paige’s past, how she came to be who she was at the beginning of this novel. It parallels with the other transition she makes into the person she ends up being at the end of this book, a different, more powerful woman, but still the same Paige.
The Bone Season will cater to all age ranges. It has a lot of YA crossover appeal with a young heroine who is no longer a teen. Despite the familiar narrative, readers will appreciate this new world and the characters it brings forth. It’s a promising beginning to what could be an epic series. While it might not on that level of Harry Potter or Hunger Games yet, there’s no doubt it can be.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon hit shelves August 20, 2013.
Publisher: Bloomsbury (August 20, 2013)
Length: 480 pages (Hardcover)
Series: The Bone Season #1
Source: ARC (Provided by Publisher)
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Science Fiction
Completed: August 2013