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.