Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow and bone
There are a lot, and I do mean A LOT of young adult fiction trilogies. It can be hard to pick up a book, invest in the characters, and find out at the end that it is but one of a much larger commitment of books, which may or may not pay off satisfactorily in the end.

The Grisha Trilogy is a book series worth reading. A fantasy, this book presents a world that has a very Russian landscape, which the author intentionally chose to contrast the typical European setting of many fantasies. The main character, Alina Starkov, has a rare talent that she has kept hidden, but which comes to light during battle, plunging her into a world of magic, mystery, and the Darkling: a dangerous and compelling magician who wants to use Alina as his own.

What I find so unique about this book is that the main problem is not a romance. From Twilight to Hunger Games, the underlying theme for the female protagonist is inevitably choosing between two men. In Shadow and Bone, Alina must choose between accepting her power, or hiding it. Will she embrace the fullness of her gift, knowing that it comes with power and all the temptations power brings, or will she hide her gift to try to get back the familiar life she left?

The third book of this series will come out in June, and it is the book I most look forward to reading this year. This book stands out as a refreshing change to the many dystopian and fantasy YA trilogies that have been released in the past five years. I think this book would be perfect for a book club to discuss, since Bardugo does great work in unpacking the battle with self, and the long journey toward self discovery, themes that would resonate with teens.


(Intended audience: 7th grade and up)

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