Customer Review

131 of 147 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but it needs stronger writing and a little more forward momentum, July 1, 2013
This review is from: The Bone Season: A Novel (Hardcover)
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See more of my reviews on Birth of a New Witch!

This may be one of the most hyped-up books of the year and until I got it, I honestly thought it was a YA novel. If only that were a joke. Only upon getting it did I learn better, but that's okay because of the strong crossover appeal The Bone Season has going for it. It's best to leave behind any thoughts of her being the next JK Rowling at the door because if you come in expecting that, you're gonna have a bad time. If you come in as blind as you possible can in the midst of all the hype, you'll find a pretty fun book after you get through the worst bits.

The first chapter might lose you due to the massive amounts of inelegant infodump about the world Paige lives in. So much gets thrown at us not just in the first chapter but throughout the novel that some information fails to stick. If the levels of clairvoyance and what gifts certain levels/certain types of clairvoyants have were clearly explained at some point, I can't remember half of it. It would have helped to have some chart at the beginning of the book to explain them in addition to the maps of Scion London.

Shannon's style could also use some work. Her prose is a little simplistic, there are some rookie mistakes like having Paige list off her appearance while looking at her ID card, and "I" is what starts a sentence so often that the lack of sentence variety is noticeable when I normally don't notice such things. It happened so often that I've got bookmarks of entire paragraphs where every sentence or almost every sentence starts with that one word. Despite the novel being in first-person, it can be hard to get into her head and really understand her. She's a tough girl who takes everything that's thrown at her with relative ease compared to her fellow clairvoyants, but that's her most outstanding trait.

All those problems? They're a pretty good summary of the first half of the novel. It's the second half of the novel that really shows off Shannon's strengths as a writer and will pull readers in. It's a shame they'll have to wade through the worst parts to get to the fun!

If there's anything the author can write with skill and aplomb, it's fight scenes. Oh wow, is it fight scenes! The face-off between Paige and her former gang was hands-down one of my favorite scenes of the novel and it's been bookmarked for future rereads, along with pretty much the entire climactic scene. If she can write actiony novels for the rest of her career, call me a fan and pre-order the rest of her books for me and I will be a happy kitten.

Her worldbuilding is likely what draws all the JK Rowling comparisons. Though not necessarily on that level (yet; it took multiple books for Rowling's worldbuilding to come back together in its brilliant way and it might do the same here), this alternate world in which Prince Edward VII was Jack the Ripper and also clairvoyant according to the official line has a deep well of potential ready to be drawn from. Had it all been given to the reader in a manner less like dumping a hundred books on their head, it would be one of the most memorable fictional worlds I've explored this year!

Then there's the slow-burn romance between Paige and her keeper Warden. Though Warden's character and past is unraveled bit by bit throughout the novel and he shows a more human side uncommon among the often-vicious Rephaim, the romance between them still makes me a little uncomfortable. It's almost like Stockholm Syndrome to me, which is a deal-breaker to me. Keeping it platonic might have been a better idea, but I'm the reviewer, not the author. Oh well!

The Bone Season leaves things on a pretty decent cliffhanger, though not as murderous as some I've come across before. There's so much uncertainty about where they'll go from here and who will be okay that-- You know what? Better stop there. Don't want to give too much away! If you're one to let weak writing slide when the worldbuilding is strong enough, this is going to be a very good book for you. Like tough female leads who can take pretty much everything hurled at them with ease? Enjoy! If you don't fall in either, it's a little more complicated.
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 15, 2013 12:26:53 AM PDT
It is a teen/young adult novel, isn't it? It certainly read that way to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2013 7:16:52 AM PDT
Ashleigh says:
Nope, it's 100% an adult novel, Michael. I've heard it's being marketed that way solely because the main character is nineteen, but I hear all sorts of rumors about everything, so I wouldn't put much stock in that. It read like a YA novel to me too and that YA feel might help it be a crossover hit like The Night Circus, but I personally think marketing it as adult is a mistake.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2013 12:11:18 PM PDT
Ashleigh, thanks for responding. My reaction is that although the novel is being marketed as "adult," it really isn't. If the author had a target audience in mind while writing the book, I'd say it was in the 16-21 year-old range, or roughly what publishers are now calling "new adult." While I don't have any major problems with the novel, I do think it's too simplistic and too teen-oriented to have substantial appeal among readers beyond their early 20s.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2013 7:43:49 AM PDT
I saw this author/book presentation at Book Expo America and the title was being promoted as New Adult, that nebulous new category marketed at young people 19-24, with the hope for crossover appeal

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2013 12:49:24 PM PDT
That seems reasonable.

Posted on Aug 22, 2013 12:11:21 PM PDT
Demeter says:
Thank you for such a detailed review. My thoughts align exactly with yours because I thought it's a good and entertaining book with a unique world, but it's heavily dragged down by exposition. I am still unclear about the different levels of voyants. The introduction of new characters also appears to be a bit clunky (ex: this is who they are, what they do, how they look. Not very smooth transitions).

I also had a problem with the romance between Warden and our protagonist. I don't think there was enough build-up until the *spoiler* kiss. There needed to be more pleasant scenes between them before jumping to that conclusion. For instance, I think it would have served the story better if Warden was able to learn more about Paige through other means than what happens in the book (I'll keep that a spoiler) because then we would have observed more of a connection.

Posted on Oct 25, 2013 7:57:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 25, 2013 7:59:25 AM PDT
KSluss says:
I would have written a comment of my own, but I figured someone already said what I had to say about this book, and your review was it. I was immediately disappointed-- within the first several chapters. Yes, for so much hype, I was ready for something a lot more polished and grown up. It is a YA book. The Simple technicality that Paige has finished high school and no longer lives with her parents doesn't change it. And I was so disappointed with the writing style which was chock full of infodumps and "tell" rather than "show". I am also so glad to see you mention the Harry Potter similarities. I thought that was just me. The secret Oxford is a darker, crueler Hogwarts. But Hogwarts it is. They even get sorted! And from the beginning I said that if she and Warden end up hitting it off I was going to stomp on the book. Yes, Stockholm Syndrome. Yes, Creepy!

Posted on Dec 8, 2013 12:25:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 8, 2013 12:26:29 PM PST
"The first chapter might lose you due to the massive amounts of inelegant infodump about the world Paige lives in. So much gets thrown at us not just in the first chapter but throughout the novel that some information fails to stick. If the levels of clairvoyance and what gifts certain levels/certain types of clairvoyants have were clearly explained at some point, I can't remember half of it. It would have helped to have some chart at the beginning of the book to explain them in addition to the maps of Scion London."

I just started this book, & I checked here to get an idea of how people felt about it, & I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one getting overwhelmed by the amount of information that's getting thrown at me. I really have no idea what's going on except for the fact that Paige is "special". I hope I can get a better grasp as I'm reading. As for a chart with the different clairvoyants, that's exactly what my book has (not that I really understand it, there is just too much info). Could that have been added after you bought yours?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2013 12:48:19 PM PST
M, there was a chart in the review copy I received and I'm surprised that Ashleigh's copy did not have one. I found that part of the book annoying not because I couldn't follow it but because the author decided it would be cool to rename all of these psychic powers that we already have conventional names for. I'd give some examples if my copy wasn't buried in a box somewhere.

As for the Stockholm Syndrome comment from KSluss, that's mostly wrong. Paige does not come to identify with or defend the Raphaim or the Scion regime that have taken her prisoner and made her a virtual slave. It's true that the Warden is Paige's captor, but the basis of their relationship is their mutual opposition to the Raphaim and Scion. The creepy part for me is both their status inequality -- he is her slavemaster, after all -- and their extreme age difference.

Posted on Dec 8, 2013 12:59:08 PM PST
S. Nadathur says:
From what you are all saying about the info dump and how hard it was to get through the first several chapters, I have to wonder how she found an agent, and then a publisher. With all the emphasis on "if you don't hook me in the first five pages, you're done for, what did this author do to beat the odds?
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