Monday, 9 September 2013

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 20th August 2013
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5

Description: 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 By Samantha Shannon has been getting plenty of hype. So much so that Samantha Shannon has been called the next J.K Rowling.  When you read this book, you can clearly see why there is so much buzz surrounding it. Despite minor flaws, The Bone Season is ambitions, intricately crafted and a fantastic read. It is an entity all by it self despite its standard storyline.  The strength of this fantasy novel lies in its multifaceted characters and world building.  Samantha Shannon takes all the different elements of the occult/clairvoyance and combines them to create a story that engages your entire imagination.

Like most dystopian stories, The Bone Season has an oppressive regime and a Protagonist with an extraordinary ability fighting for freedom. Set in the year 2059, clairvoyants are people who have the unique ability to interact with the spirit realm. Paige Mahoney is a clairvoyant dream walker who works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. The use of her unique ability leads to her imprisonment in Oxford, where an otherworldly race is using voyants for their own means. In order to survive Paige needs to escape and find a way to defeat the enemy. Shannon quickly sets up the world of Scion London and then just as quickly changes the game for the characters by introducing the Rephaite. The plot is not fast paced, but moves at a brisk pace leading up to an eventual rebellion and its consequences.  

The world building is phenomenal. The Scion world has many intricate details woven into its tapestry. It’s a world filled with the Seven Seals, the seven dials, cohorts, new technology, mind crimes and an assortment of drugs. It’s the details that give this world depth and layers. It’s a world that you can fully immerse yourself in. However the complexity of the world is also its greatest fault. There is so much information being divulged in this book. From the minute you start reading, you are bombarded with facts and information. It does get a little confusing as it takes time to absorb all the intricate details that make up this society. As such there is quite a bit of telling in this book and not a lot of showing. However once I understood the world, the story pulled me in. 

Paige was a complex protagonist. Throughout the entire book, Paige is searching for acceptance. She has so many different sides to her.  She’s not afraid to do what she needs to do to survive, despite all the apprehensions and regrets that plague her. She’s always putting herself on the line for others and that’s an admirable quality. At the beginning, Paige’s main focus is her own freedom. As she learns more about Sheol I and the other prisoners, she learns that she not only wants freedom for herself but also for those around her. She finds strength to not only change her future, but also the future for all voyants. Just like Paige, We meet many characters that have plenty of potential left to be explored. Warden is an ambiguous character. His intentions are hard to nail down. We don’t understand his motivations until we get to the latter half of this book.  The Seven Seals, especially Nick were great characters. I loved seeing how his friendship affected Paige’s formative years. Jaxson the mimelord was brutal. The romance in this novel was very minimal. I am sure that it will be explored further in future books. I was not completely sold on it but I am willing to see where it goes in the future.

Overall The Bone Season is a great start to the series. There is still so much more to be explored in the Scion world. This fantasy novel succeeds because of its commitment to detailed world building and complex characters.  My advice would be to be patient when starting this novel. Once you understand the world, the story is sure to pull you in.

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