The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a tough book to review, and it’s almost killed me not to look at the reviews already on Amazon and Goodreads. I do have very mixed feelings about The Bone Season, and sometimes it is difficult to separate my own personal likes and dislikes from what makes a good book or a bad one. Let me start by saying, then, that this IS a good book. The world Samantha Shannon has created is a stunning example of a writer’s imagination. Complex, layered, terrifying – The Bone Season is an incredible story.
I’m not going to repeat any of the plot here, because I dislike that in a review, but I will say that The Bone Season is a world of clairvoyants in many forms. People who possess any of these gifts are feared despised and hunted. At first I got a big Blade Runner vibe, which excited me greatly. I was expecting something more … traditionally fantasy-esque, but instead I found something blacker, something more along the lines of a dark dystopian tale.
Very quickly, though, I found myself getting bogged down by the sheer weight of information about this world. The clairvoyance aspect is complex and abstract. I felt that I needed more detail on the concepts that were being mentioned rather than just a quick mention before moving on to the next term and next concept. At one point I felt as though I was being pelted with words. I thought and still think that was a real shame. I wanted to know more, but the information was being delivered in a brutal fashion. If I’m introduced to the concept of a “spool”, I want to know what it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like; I want to be able to imagine myself with a spool of spirits that I can chuck at someone, but there just wasn’t enough depth for me to do that. In some ways, I loved the sheer volume of detail. It takes a talented writer to come up with all that, but its delivery needed to be slower. I needed to be shown some things, not told. Last complaint: I love the alternative words for everyday things and I love that most of these words had real meaning but, man, too too too many.
Story-wise, very original and very impressive. Paige was a strong and likable character. Arcturus was perfectly tall dark and handsome, and who wouldn’t fall a little bit in love with Nick? Samantha Shannon’s writing style is enviable, sharp, clear and cliché free. My biggest wish is that the book was longer, much longer. I could have read an entire volume just up to the train incident. I would have loved to read about Paige’s life as a clairvoyant.
I do feel as though I’ve said a bunch of bad things about a good book so I want to reiterate, that this is an excellent read. It kept me intrigued and excited, and it’s very different from anything I’ve read before. Do give it a try. It’s a challenging book and lots of fun.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the free copy in return for an honest review.
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