Review: The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

13th May 2014

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and 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.

Let’s face it: no matter how many people recommended it to me, telling me that I would love it, in the end, it just wasn’t for me. They weren’t wrong; the premise of this novel promises everything I love: great world building, an interesting heroine, a mesmerising love interest, who seems to be just how I like my male characters (dark, brooding, mysterious, more or less evil, et al.), and a fascinating plot. Unfortunately, after a strong start, the story began to drag on. Too many flat secondary characters and flash backs as well as a relationship dynamic that wasn’t as intriguing as I hoped it to be sucked the thrill right out of the story. All in all, I feel like the novel wasn’t able to fulfil its potential because one book was not enough to round out all the now unfortunately half-baked aspects.

The best part of the novel is without a doubt the intriguing world building: In a world similar to ours, some people have fantastical but illegal mental abilites for which they are persecuted by the enforcers of a fascinating political structure. Plus, there are alien beings that have their hands in basically everything. Yes, it’s that awesome and it’s not hard to forgive the rather overwhelming info dumping in the beginning. It does not take long to understand the system and one never stops learning something new. It’s such an exciting idea!

A small part of the world building is established with an awful lot of flash backs into Paige’s past. Although they are not quite as random as it might seem at first, I just couldn’t warm up to them. Normally, I love these kinds of glimpses into the past; in this case, however, about 80% were rather irrelevant to Paige’s character development and the story, therefore disrupting it harshly. I wouldn’t have minded a couple more chapters of exposition in the beginning in which the important bits could have been adressed and then a different handling of the situation later on.

While I liked Paige, I never felt close to her – or to any other character in that matter. Throughout the novel, I felt distant to both the characters and the world, like watching the novel unravel from the other side of a thick pane instead of being right in the middle of it all. This leaves the sheer infinite number of secondary characters rather flat, colourless, and lifeless. Halfway through, I put the novel on hold for about a month and when I picked it up again, there were only names and names. In almost all cases, I could not remember a single trait of the characters they should represent. I wish the novel would have focused on a smaller number of fleshed out characters instead. I really would have loved to get to know the Seven Seals and Nashira better.

And then there’s the shallow Paige-Warden-relationship. Admittedly, I went into this novel quite spoiled by the awesomeness of a relationship similar to this one that was developed over the course of three novels, each one considerably longer than The Bone Season. Again, I feel like the full potential wasn’t exploited due to the limited space of a single novel. I already mentioned that I felt distant but that’s not all of it. It’s just that Warden’s so not the mysterious, dangerous, sexy guy I wanted him to be. He was just rather average – the laughing stock of his own people, somehow always fading into the background. He couldn’t be mysterious because Paige never allowed him to become that. For the most part, she had other things on her mind; never overly afraid of him, never truly interested in him. I never felt like there was anything at stake for her, probably because the plot was so predictable. I never felt the tension, nor the attraction, nor the excitement that usually turns me into a sqealing fangirl and shipper.  In the end, everything happened much too fast.

Thinking about it, 3/5 is almost too generous because after all, the novel wasn’t able to truly entertain me. There were too many disruptions to my reading flow and the feeling of distance made it hard to become invested in the novel and its characters, no matter how good the idea and the world is. I don’t even know yet whether I will continue the series.

Bibliographic Information
This Edition
German Edition
2013 by Bloomsbury
Hardcover, 468 pages
ISBN-13: 9781408836422
Goodreads / Publisher
2013 by Bloomsbury Berlin
Hardcover, 608 pages
ISBN-13: 9783827011718
Goodreads / Publisher
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11 responses

  • Oh no, I just decided for myself that I would finally buy the book this month and now that it’s almost in my basket you come up with a review like this 😀

    I hesitated for such a long time because I’ve read quite often that the world building is rather complex and that it takes some time and effort to dive into this setting. But at least you say it’s not THAT complicated so maybe I’ll just give it a try in spite of your harsh criticism^^

    • Ohhhh, I’m so sorry! However, don’t fret just yet. Since I’m usually the odd one out, you might love it just like everyone else.

      Yes, it is complex and initially confusing. It takes time to get a hang on everything and I understand why some find it hard. I also started out overanalysing every little titbit to put the pieces together but after the first chapter, I decided to just take everything in as is. I just accepted that I wouldn’t understand everything at once. Sooner or later, the information are recurring, woven into the story and thus are explained. For me, that was the least problem I had with the novel 😉

  • Uh, you’re actually the first person I know of who hasn’t liked this novel. But you know, that’s alright, I don’t necessarily have to add any more books to my wishlist xD. You won’t continue on with the series, will you?

    • I’m usually the odd one out, so maybe you should give it a try (although I can’t recommend it – but just like you said, there are more than enough people raving about the novel).
      I’m not sure yet. I hate to discontinue a series because I always think it could get better. On the other hand, the blurb of the next one kinda frustrates me already so that’s not the best premise. I’ll wait and see.

      • Mhm, I don’t think I’ll try it, though. World-building is not really my cup of tea, I don’t particularly like High Fantasy either ^^.
        Same goes for me. I mean, I’m still reading House of Night, so maybe you should learn from my mistakes :-D.

      • Ok, then you definitely shouldn’t read it, although it’s strictly speaking not high fantasy. It’s more or less a mixture of urban fantasy and science fiction.

        And I have no idea how you do it! But I love your reviews on them 😀 .

  • ich bin mir irgendwie immer noch nicht sicher, ob ich das lesen will oder nicht XD” mich schreckt total ab, dass es da noch so viele Bände von geben soll. Und ich weiß auch nicht, ob das dem Hype gerecht wird. Liest du weiter?

    • Also ich kanns nicht empfehlen und ich verstehe auch den Hype nicht xD ! Das finde ich auch irgendwie total doof. Dieser erste Band hätte auch gut und gerne auf 2-3 aufgeteilt werden können. Dann hätte man das ganze auch schön ausbauen und abrunden können und ich hätte vielleicht mehr Zugang gefunden. Ich fande, dass es ziemlich viel Inhalt, so einige Plots und verdammt viele Charaktere auf viel zu wenig Platz war.

      Weiß ich noch so überhaupt nicht. Ich breche Reihen ja auch nur sehr ungern ab, aber irgendwie frustriert mich der Klappentext vom zweiten schon jetzt ein bisschen. Mir gehts hier so ein bisschen wie mit Grisha. Die beiden stehen so auf einer Höhe, auch wenn ich bei Grisha bei weitem enttäuschter war, ich der Reihe aber auch irgendwie mehr Potential zuspreche. Da hat mir bei Bone Season schon einfach zu viel gefehlt. Aber wenn ich den 2. irgendwo mal günstig bekomme, ist es nicht auszuschließen, dass ich dem ganzen noch ne zweite Chance gebe.

  • Kann dir in allem nur zustimmen Ellie! Worldbuilding an für sich klasse, aber diese furchtbaren Flashbacks. Haben mich übel aus der Geschichte gerissen und es war so schon kompliziert genug.

    Mit den Charakteren gings mir leider genauso, ich war total distanziert und eigentlich hats mich null gejuckt, was mit ihren passiert. Und die Entwicklung zwischen den beiden fand ich leider alles andere als awesome. Mir leuchtet noch immer nicht ein, weshalb Warden sein komplettes Schicksal einfach mal so in ihre Hände legt. In Miss Unberrechenbar. Das macht doch gar keinen Sinn -.-

    Schade, drum. Aber die Reihe ist für mich abgehakt.

    • Danke! Wenigstens eine, die dem Ganzen auch kritisch gegenübersteht ;D ! Ich mag Flashbacks ja eigentlich total gerne, aber nur, wenn sie auch richtig in der Story integriert sind, weniger häufig auftauchen bzw. viel viel kürzer sind. Hier hatte man ja immer das Gefühl, dass zwei Bücher zusammen in eins gemogelt wurden.

      Überhaupt nicht! Wenn da wenigstens irgendwie mehr gewesen wäre – so nach 5 Büchern hätte das ja schon mal kommen können 😉 – aber das war ja vollkommen aus der Luft gegriffen – wie die ganze Beziehung. Das war doch alles total emotionslos.

      Ich weiß noch nicht, ob ich dem noch eine zweite Chance geben soll, oder nicht. Es wird erstmal gaaaaaanz weit hinten angestellt, aber so ganz klipp und klar kann ich das leider noch nicht sagen. Ich breche so ungern Reihen ab, weil ich immer noch die geringe Hoffnung hege, dass es ja besser werden könnte. Fürs erste warte ich einfach mal ab.

  • Kann ich auch nachvollziehen, dass du es nicht ganz aufgeben möchtest. Die Autorin hat sicherlich Potenzial! Aber dafür hab ich mich einfach viel zu sehr gequält mit dem Buch. Das muss nicht noch einmal sein… Eine andere Reihe von ihr mit beschränktem Setting vielleicht. Aber solltest du es dir geben, bin ich auf jeden Fall gespannt auf deine Meinung!

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