Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon

Where do I begin? The Bone Season is very entertaining and well-imagined, but a bit complex and hard to follow at times.

It's the future -- 2059 -- and the government is run by Scion. The world is aware that many people have psychic abilities -- some are very weak, some have great power -- but all are hunted by Scion. There are gangs of these psychic people, called voyants, who work in the underground of London for gang lords who keep them safe and sell their services. Paige's gift is very unique -- she's a dreamwalker. She belongs to a gang called the Seven Seals.

Paige gets arrested and is sure she is going to be executed or imprisoned for the rest of her life. What happens to her is surprising -- and hard to explain. The Rephaim is a race from another world who have made a prison for voyants on Earth (in Oxford, actually). They use voyants as soldiers against another otherworldly enemy. The society is very hierarchical and Paige is "lucky" to get chosen by Warden, a "keeper" who supposedly is kinder -- and Paige is the first human he's ever chosen.

But no matter how good Warden is, Paige is determined to escape back to London. Even though no one has ever successfully escaped before. But Paige is beginning to suspect Warden may actually be sympathetic. Maybe somehow he will help Paige and her friends.

Whew! There's a lot of lore here. Like nothing you've ever read. And, a lot of weird names for things and people and voyants' abilities. It's a lot to decipher. At times, I found myself thinking, "Well, I didn't really get that, but I don't think it matters that much." And, it didn't. Some of the specifics would most likely become more clear given a re-read. But I can assure you, that's very unlikely to happen.

The beginning of The Bone Season is a list of all the voyants' abilities -- and the names for them. Please do not put the book down when you see that. It's very confusing -- and unnecessary. I think it would have been nice at the end. I was also at a disadvantage to be reading the e-version of The Bone Season. I couldn't easily flip back to the beginning to see the definitions. Also, there's a glossary at the end that I would have loved to had access to. Bottom line -- this is one time when you should grab yourself a paper copy of the book.

I really enjoyed and appreciated this story. The world-building is one of the most creative I've ever encountered. The Bone Season is the first in a planned seven-book series. I hope Shannon does a good job of recapping the previous books, because I feel like there's a lot to remember, and there is the potential to feel lost.

At almost 500 pages, The Bone Season is an investment, but it's one I would recommend. Anyone who enjoys a totally different, futuristic, paranormal society won't want to miss it.

Published by Bloomsbury, August 20, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
480 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I know there is a ton of hype for this book and that's a seven (or eight?) series book, which is truly ambitious for an adult read. The book sounds interesting, but I think I might be better holding this one off until I either get an audiobook or a good chunk of time to sit down and read.

  2. I really want to read this one. I have a hard cover version and an e-book copy. I've not seen a whole lot of favorable reviews. I'm not the greatest with complex societies either. I love a great fantasy book though and this one sounds like its got a lot of potential. I'm just afraid I'll get lost in context with this one. I see you're reading book #2 - I'm hopeful you continue to enjoy the series. It will give me great incentive to read book #1.


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