Series: The Grisha, #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
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Published: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.
Yet another book that I waited for so long to read. Why did I wait so long? Seriously. Apparently I've been putting off reading so many amazing books and now I feel terrible.
Shadow and Bone starts off with Alina, an orphan who is a mapmaker in her regiment in the army. She's fine at what she does, but she's not special or great at anything, and she never has. She's always been an outcast, even though she's had her best friend Mal at her side from their time at the orphanage. But they've been drifting apart, especially since Mal's a natural in the army, and with girls. All of them except Alina. However, things change when Alina shows a power that has been hiding in her for years. A power she doesn't know she has.
The moment Alina gets to the royal Ravkan court, she immediately sticks out for once in her life. She's different from everyone else, yet she realizes that she does fit in. Everyone is like her, especially the Darkling. The Darkling is the most powerful Grisha, those with abilities, and is the opposite of Alina. But opposites do attract.
I loved watching Alina's journey. She starts off as a meek, quiet girl and at the end becomes a confident young woman who understands her amazing abilities. She didn't learn how to use her powers the moment she joined the Grisha, like characters have in other books. She took a while to figure out what she had to do to get better. She continues to stay scared and not confident, which made everything so much more realistic. And I love it this way. It's so incredibly unrealistic for a character who's been weak and timid her entire life to instantaneously become self-assured.
I absolutely LOVED Ravka. It's essentially Russia, but a fantasy, magic-filled version. I love Russia so this was a really cool setting. It will be so cool to explore the other countries.
I just need to say that I think the Darkling is amazing. Hey, what can I say? I love dark, kind of evil guys. They're my weakness. With him, you keep second guessing if he's evil because of some of his more romantic moments with Alina. However, I could not stand Mal. He annoyed me from the beginning. I just feel like his feelings for Alina weren't all that real. It just seemed like he only started caring about her when she was gone.
Overall, this was an AMAZING book and I can tell that the rest of the books are only going to get better! The world-building, the magic, the characters. They're all so creative and dark and mysterious. An instant favorite!