Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Alexis:

The Bone Season is packed with worldbuilding information. From the first page, Shannon slams you into a futuristic London where clairvoyants have to hide in order to survive and avoid persecution. The main character, Paige, works for an underground crime gang of voyants, each with a varying forms of power. But when Paige is drugged and kidnapped, she’s forced into slavery by an alien race called the Rephaim.

I tried to read this book sometime late last year but I wasn’t in the mood. This time around, the beginning of the book was just as hard to get through. Shannon wastes no time trying to explain Paige’s world. She introduces a plethora of jargon that I had to slog through until I figured it out, or until Shannon gave an explanation. And once I got used to that, Paige was thrown into the Rephaim’s space, and then I had to learn a whole new set of jargon.

Shannon certainly understands the world she’s created. I do wish the beginning of the book wasn’t so much of a chore to get through. I never fully understood all of the terms or all that was happening, and maybe that’s partly my fault for being a fast reader and not letting the information properly sink in.  

On the plus side, the first half of this book felt wholly original, despite the dystopian world and the aliens. I enjoyed learning about the world once I understood it a little more. The voyants and Paige’s abilities surrounding dreamscapes were fascinating and well-written by Shannon. I also really enjoyed the plot.

My favorite part of the book was Paige. Sometimes I struggle with liking main characters, and oftentimes strong female characters are strong and impulsive for the sake of it. But I really connected with her character. I found her actions and feelings true to her character and her surroundings. I think her flashback scenes and memories could’ve happened earlier on, though.

My biggest issues with the book happened in the second half. I wanted to understand Nashira more, so that I could understand her better as the villian. I also wanted to get to know Warden better. I liked his character, but by the end, Shannon never fully explained his motives.

I’m interested to see how Shannon will create a seven book long series. She definitely teased a lot of information for the next book.

VERDICT: 4 stars

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SPOILERS BELOW:

 I had a feeling that romance was coming, but I didn’t want to believe it. Romance doesn’t fit in The Bone Season. It’s about survival and Paige finding herself and developing her powers.

It would’ve been better if it had grown over more time. But Paige didn’t trust Warden and then all of a sudden she was having feelings for him. It just doesn’t help that was a huge part of her being kept as a slave: beaten, broken, and even branded. His true intentions don’t really matter, because he was still involved in it. So it made the romance problematic for me.

Review: We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

“What if I don’t give a shit about the world?”

“I’d say that’s pretty fucking sad.”

“Why?”

“Because the world is so beautiful.”  

We are the Ants is a difficult book to explain and to “place”. This is technically “science fiction”, and I say technically because it blends reality and fantasy. I love that it defies genres! The reader is left to wonder what is real and what is not. I’d warn potential readers not to the read the book jacket copy, because I want them to enjoy the mystery and surprise.

Trigger warnings for self harm, sexual assault, and suicide. This is a BIG part of the book so please don’t read this if that’s something too close to home.

I felt such a connection to the characters, particularly the narrator and protagonist, Henry, a teenage boy who is faced with a big decision: should he save the world or allow it to be destroyed? When we meet him, he’s overcome with grief over losing his boyfriend.  I was so invested in his story as he comes to terms with his grief and mental instability and battles many forms of bullying and harassment. Henry’s grief and mental health manifests itself in a totally original way that I thought worked so well.

This is also just “angsty” enough to be believable but not shallow or stereotypical in any way, a problem I sometimes have “drama” in YA. We are the Ants depicts horrific reality of mental health. This book doesn’t shy away from critically examining the demands our society has on teenagers. The amazing part is that Hutchinson explores all these themes through the unique lens of alien abduction and the impending apocalypse.

We are the Ants is one of the best YA novels I’ve read in awhile! I highly recommend it!

VERDICT: 5 books!