Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
Published: 20th August 2013 by Bloomsbury
Format Read: Paperback, 466 pages
Synopsis: “It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.” (Taken from Goodreads)
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Alluded as the next J.K. Rowling, Samantha Shannon’s debut novel was both an intriguing and fascinating story that I couldn’t wait to devour. But I think it’s unfair to create such a high pedestal for a young writer to compare themselves to, because it creates such high expectations not only for Shannon to be like Rowling, but for the readers to expect the same kind of magic Rowling had embedded in her Harry Potter books. The Bone Season, the first in a seven book series by Shannon is a very interesting read, but to compare it to Harry Potter is both unfair and a little unjustified. The series’ are two completely different books, so to draw a comparison between them is like comparing an apple to a pear. The Bone Season can stand by itself without the marketing department having to sell it as the next big thing.
Shannon has created a very immersive world where you can tell she’s spent a lot of time creating and fine-tuning. This is not another fantasy book where the author has thrown together a bunch of fancy terms and dubbed it a book. From the very beginning, Shannon is attempting to immerse the reader in this dystopian-esque city called Scion London, where clairvoyants exist but are hunted by a government that hates them. I’m not ashamed to admit that for a vast majority of the first few chapters, I was scratching my head as I scrambled to keep up with all the new terms and definitions that the protagonist Paige was showing us.
Clairvoyants are despised by the Scion government as they’re unnatural, and possess a sort of magical element where they can experience the aether through their gifts of being a medium, seers, necromancers … just to name a few. (Because there are tons!) Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, one of the rarest forms of clairvoyants, and she can break into people’s minds. She slips up one day when she panics and accidently kills two guards on the train with just her mind. Her attempt to flee that night was unsuccessful as she was hit by a Flux dart that not only knocks out, but makes her hallucinate. From that point on, Paige’s life changes completely as she wakes up in a place called Sheol I and the pieces of the mysterious city Oxford is unveiled.
This novel has wonderfully drawn characters and a heroine that you can’t help but root for. All the characters are raw and realistic because they experience not only hardship, but also the unexpectedness of death. I will not say who dies in the novel as that will ruin your reading experience – but Shannon doesn’t hold back on murdering her darlings. This is why she’s a great writer – not just because she’s alluded as the next J.K Rowling.
You might be wondering why I didn’t give this novel 5 stars then. I feel like I may be giving an unjustified reasoning, but throughout the novel, I kept thinking that I’ve somehow read the book before. I can’t pinpoint where (perhaps Warden is scrambling my dreams around my head), but I just get this inkling that this story has been done before. The originality factor never really encapsulated me as I don’t feel like it’s the most original work I’ve read in my life. This is why I believe my reasoning is unjustified in a sense, so don’t let this deter you from reading the novel. The book and I were just missing a crucial ‘spark’ that would have made a very good read into something amazing.
I really did enjoy this novel, and I will be picking the next one up – so it is a book that I recommend lovers of dystopian fantasy to read.