Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Genre: Dystopian/Alternate Future
Rating: 4 out of 5
Paige Mahoney lives in a barely recognizable future London, where a group called Scion controls most of the world’s governments. Paige is a clairvoyant, or “voyant” for short, and her kind have been banned by Scion. Paige lives an underground life as part of a group that collects information by scouting into people’s minds; after all, Paige is the rarest type of voyant, a dreamwalker. But when Paige is captured by Scion, she’s introduced to an entirely new world, to a race of people that no one outside her prison has any idea about. As much as she wants to escape, Paige also must collect as much information about these people and their plans for humans.
The Bone Season is a novel that has been hyped quite a bit, the first in a seven-book series that is supposed to basically be the next Harry Potter. Well, if you want to actually enjoy this book, then put aside any notions of how good it’s supposed to be or you will inevitably end up disappointed. The Bone Season is an interesting novel with a unique premise, and while it does have some flaws, Shannon did a solid job crafting her debut novel.
Paige is an interesting main character in The Bone Season. Her age—19—means that this book will have crossover appeal for both adult and YA fantasy markets, though the novel is written in more of a young adult style. Paige is capable and has been trained well, yet she is naive and immature about some things. She’s an appealing heroine for this series, and readers will enjoy getting to know her. It will be interesting to see how the author develops Paige over the course of the series, though it’s comforting that she displays integrity and loyalty on every page of this book.
The world-building in The Bone Season is intense, to say the least. Shannon dumps information on the reader from the very first page, immersing them in this foreign world, and it’s difficult to straighten out what’s what. It takes about 100 pages before the reader fully begins to understand the intricacies of the world, but once they do, it’s difficult to not appreciate it. Shannon has created a nuanced and layered setting for her story; while there’s a lot she tells the reader (almost too much at times) there’s an equal amount of mystery left in the world. Readers who enjoy worlds that take time and effort to put into place will really appreciate what Shannon’s done with this novel; it’s really an impressive feat.
The writing style of The Bone Season isn’t exactly smooth, but it’s easy to read. There are some rough spots in Shannon’s narrative style that will hopefully be smoothed out in future installments. Despite my quibbles with the book, however, I enjoyed meeting Paige and reading about her adventures in this well-detailed new world. It’s an exciting start to a series by a new author who I’ll be keeping a close eye on in years to come.