Ivory and Bone #1
by Julie Eshbaugh
Published on June 7, 2016 by HarperTeen
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
The day Ivory and Bone arrived on my doorstep was a happy one indeed. One of my most anticipated reads for the summer, this book didn’t disappoint with its originality both in writing style and story. With the book’s release exactly a month ago, you should already be at your local bookstore with a copy in hand.
Have you ever read a book set during prehistoric times? No? Neither have I. In fact, this is the first I’ve even heard of in the young adult genre. Our narrator, Kol, is a teenager in his family’s clan. And while pursuing other hobbies — you know, the usual: hunting mammoths, collecting honey from the hive, normal teen fun — he must think to the future and the survival of his clan. The recipe for such things involves a girl his own age of which his clan is in short supply.
But you, yes you, the reader, are that girl.
I mean, sure, you can get in a character’s head when written right but this book immerses you in a whole other way. Eshbaugh chose an interesting approach with second-person PoV. Not a popular form of writing usually. She took Kol’s narration and while he told his story, he told it to you. But you’re not you in Ivory and Bone. Your name is Mya and you’re the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.
For me, the style worked (after a serious adjustment period). If someone asked me to recommend a book with unusual writing, this book would likely be near the top of that list. Though I can see how it might dissuade others from reading it. Personally, I related to Mya. The Pride and Prejudice tie-in made Mya appear the Darcy of the Stone Age, both characters who I can connect with due to their personalities. It lessened the weirdness of the writing and I caught myself thinking as Mya from time to time.
I cared far less about the protagonist, Kol. Something about his character grated on me, like that itch on the bottom of your foot that you scratch and scratch but it doesn’t go away. The more he talked about Mya, the more I agreed with her initial assessment of him. He had a strong personality for who his character was, but I just didn’t connect with him the way I did with Mya (and even some of the supporting cast, to be honest).
Where this story lacked was the prose. The world felt rich and vibrant, the shiny new setting on the shelf. But the narrative dragged quite a bit and made for slow reading. Plus, the characters acted more like they were of our time than way back when. I mean, it’s a fine line to walk when it comes to creating characters that likely had a very different speech pattern than what we know but I lost the connectivity to the world due to the word choices and phrasing.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book until I opened to the first page, but I was happily surprised. I look forward to seeing more from Julie Eshbaugh and her new series.