The Bone Season #1
by Samantha Shannon
Published on August 20, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
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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.
Talk about slow going.
Prior to jumping into The Bone Season, I heard AMAZING things about it as well as the sequel, The Mime Order. Which is all well and good, and likely one of the only reasons I really stuck it out with this one because I found this book to be quite the struggle.
To start, I’m thankful that I knew beforehand that this was not a fantasy. It’s more of a supernatural dystopian, if I had to categorize it, but the world-building is just as intricate as many epic fantasies I’ve read. I think that’s where the book started to get bogged down — in the details. Shannon crafted a beautiful, rich world, but I felt like it overwhelmed the story and took over at times in info dumps and the story pacing.
You give me all this world-building and that’s great, but it was 200 pages of set-up for a series that I no longer feel invested in.
The problem with that is I felt nothing for these characters. I didn’t care if Paige succeeded or not because, frankly, I wasn’t that big a fan of her. How did this girl survive on the streets for so long? HOW? As soon as she’s taken and branded a slave, like cattle essentially, she just fights and fights against her “master” which, cool that’s great, except he’s CLEARLY not as bad as the others you could be stuck with. Oh, and hey, let’s be stubborn and keep pushing back then suddenly inject a romantic subplot.
Yes, slavery is so very romantic.
Honestly, the only character of the massive cast introduced (large enough I couldn’t tell you half of them let alone who was who) that I remotely liked was Warden. Because there was something unknown about him, enough mystery to intrigue me to keep reading though t it soon became clear what that big mystery was and the moment likely meant as a plot twist fell flat.
I love a good paranormal story. Honestly though I mentioned “dystopian” you could probably call this one an adult urban fantasy and that’s cool. I love those. But I want more action, more of the familiar “show don’t tell.” The world was told, the story was told, I didn’t feel it, didn’t live it alongside Paige. Instead, I fell into the realm of confusion because I didn’t understand some of the slang, terms were thrown out left and right, there was too much going on. I used the provided glossary far too much to keep me in the story.
For all the hype around The Bone Season, I don’t think it lived up to it at all. Now because the ending 50 pages or so picked up the pace, I’ll likely give The Mime Order a try to see if has the same issues or not. This one took far too long to get through and hopefully its sequel brings its A-game because I don’t think I can convince myself it’s worth it to read an even longer installment like this.