Thursday, August 29, 2013

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Title:  The Bone Season
Author:  Samantha Shannon
Narrator:  Alana Kerr
Series:  The Bone Season, book #1 of 7
Publisher:  Audible for Bloomsbury
Publication Date:  August 20, 2013
Source:  purchased audio
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It 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.

I'm usually vary wary of hugely hyped novels.  I've been eagerly anticipating The Bone Season since I first discovered its existence, though, so I tried to avoid the hype as much as possible.  I didn't watch the trailer. I only read the reviews of a couple of my most trusted reviewer friends...those that I knew wouldn't spoil anything or lead me astray. And I avoided all mentions of this book on Goodreads, especially comparisons to other authors and mentions of book and/or movie deals. But I haven't been living under a rock, so I know that this book has been garnering some serious attention, no matter how blind I wanted to be going into it. I hope that by sequestering myself from nearly all references to this book, I can provide an unbiased opinion.

I actually listened to the audio for The Bone Season, and I enjoyed it immensely, probably more than I would have just reading it myself.  The first half of the story does tend toward the tedious, but Alana Kerr's emphatic narration kept it from feeling so monotonous.  Accents always make for pleasant listening in my experience, but Kerr's slight Irish/English accent really did make her sound like the Irish girl living in London that she was portraying.  This audio never lacked of emotion, but it was full of characters with voices to match their personalities.  I'm definitely a fan of Kerr's narration of this book, and I'm hopeful she'll narrate future books in this series.

As I said, The Bone Season gets off to a bit of a slow start, but it's due in part to an intense amount of world-building, and while some may bristle at that, I found it intriguing.  There's a secret society of voyants, a hidden city, and a world on another plane of existence that all have to be fleshed out, and while the details of these are indeed plentiful, they are entirely necessary in order to truly paint the picture.  It's such a dark, sad world, and I felt every bit of it as I listened to the story.

Paige is a nineteen-year-old girl, hiding what she is from everyone but those who employ her talents.  She longs for a normal life, but she knows that the path to safety is the one she's currently on.  Or, that at least it's the safest path of those available to her.  Until it isn't anymore.  And then she's thrust even further into the world of voyants and even crazier, ruthless angels who want to harness the powers of the voyants for their own purposes.

I wasn't particularly crazy about Paige's character or her situation in the beginning, but she's one of those protagonists that grows on you the more you discover of their story.  One thing that bothered me the most about her character though was her seemingly closed-mindedness, how difficult it was for her to accept that things could be anything but black and white, especially when it came to Warden.  And I think a large part of that is owed to her employer, as she proved she could think for herself there at the end.

Warden was a pleasant surprise.  Paige's relationship with her angel master is complicated at best.  Because although he assumes ownership of her in the beginning, he practically gives her free reign, as long as she causes him no trouble.  He teaches her, helps her master her gift, and seemingly, he asks for nothing in return. I wouldn't quite say Warden was enigmatic, for I saw through his guise from the beginning, but he remained such to Paige for most of the novel.  I did feel that the romantic relationship developed rather suddenly between them, though.  Not that I didn't see it coming, but essentially, Paige sees him as the enemy almost right up until the point he kisses her.  Most girls wouldn't kiss the guy they're trying to escape from unless it was a ploy to further their escape attempts.  But Paige was a complex character, and I think maybe she shut off those feelings, that possibility very early on.

Even so, I'm very interested to see what future books hold for Warden and Paige and the rest of the Seven Seals, especially after that explosive ending.  Samantha Shannon may or may not be the next whoever, but she is definitely a masterful storyteller.  The Bone Season was engaging and thought-provoking, and I'll definitely be picking up a finished copy for my shelves.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png 1/2

About the author:

Samantha Shannon was born and raised in West London. She recently finished her degree in English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she specialized in Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism.

In 2012 she signed a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing to publish the first three books in a seven-book series, beginning with 'The Bone Season'. Film rights to the novel were optioned by Andy Serkis's London-based production company, The Imaginarium Studios, in November 2012.

Find Samantha:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | PinterestTumblr


  1. You know, I've seen the hype but really avoided buying into it because I just didn't think it would be for me but you make me want to give it a chance!

  2. Wonderful review, Jen! I have been living under a rock lately, so I wasn't aware there was a lot of hype for this book. I've seen a couple people reading it on GR, but that's about all. It sounds really good though. I'll be 7 books, huh? I just need to decide if I want to invest... your review sure makes me want to.

  3. I must be under a rock since I haven't seen any hype. It does sound like a good read though, and you sell the audio version very well.

  4. I have been dying to read this. I'm happy to hear that it does live up to the hype!

  5. Yay! I'm so happy you enjoyed The Bone Season. I loved it so makes me happy that you enjoyed it too (even with all the hype). I really loved Warden's character and the relationship that develops with Paige. I thought it was beautifully done. The beginning was slow to me too but well worth it in the end. Great review Jen!

    My Friends Are Fiction

  6. I can't believe you tackled this one in audio! I'm such a visual person that listening to a complicated book would get me nowhere. But I bet that an expressive reader WOULD help a lot. I really ended up loving Paige in this book, and connected well to her, though I agree that it takes some time. Interesting that you called Warden an "angel" hmmm. I ended up falling hard for his character. I can see what you're saying about Paige kissing him, but I think it's the type of romance (or romantic feelings) that really did sneak up on her. She slowly grew to trust and understand them, and I'm not surprised that it turned into a kiss. BUT she was thinking she was about to die, so it was a little bit of a crazy decision too. It wasn't until after that she realized it might mean something more. In an case, I'm excited to see how their relationship develops in the future, and how this story progresses as a whole. 6 more books to go!


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