Let’s get the apology out of the way: I’m sorry it’s been exactly one month (okay, give or take) since my last review. My excuse is that I’ve been working and doing schoolwork and… well, you get the idea. So unless you want to read my review of Paradise Lost (lots of Hell, lots of sin, lots of Satan screwing over the human race) or A Farewell to Arms (see this clip of Silver Linings Playbook, although I will say it’s obvious Pat has never read any Hemingway if he’s complaining about a depressing ending…), I’d just accept that I’ve been on a long hiatus and am now back with a new read! And on that note…
So here’s the thing: I don’t know if I like this book or not. And now you’re probably thinking, “You give us a paragraph long explanation of why you haven’t reviewed something, then you get to the review part, and then you tell us you don’t know what you think of it? What’s wrong with you, weirdo blog girl?” To be fair, I’d think that, too, if I were you. But I’m not, so I don’t. Instead, I’m trying to wrap my mind around this novel.
The Bone Season is a new(ish) release from debut author Samantha Shannon. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate her on publishing and to emphasize that no, I’m no insanely jealous that she’s my age and got a ridiculous book deal and is probably laughing all the way to the bank. And maybe this is part of my issue with reading this – I want her to succeed. So much so, I forced myself to keep reading even when I thought it was the weirdest/most incomprehensible book I’ve read in a long time. And that includes Mrs. Dalloway.
Here’s the basic gist (although I can’t say that I really am going to do it justice): British history changed when Edward VII was declared Jack the Ripper and the aether (????) opened and the Rephaim came through the rift and took over the world…? And now clairvoyance is a no-no, so people like our narrator (Paige Mahoney) are doing their best to hide their talents. But then Paige is taken to the lost city of Oxford where the Rephs live/train humans/I really don’t know what they do other than lurk to be part of the Bone Season.
Are you lost yet? Because this is why it took me about 250 pages to really want to read to the end. And in a 450 page book, that’s not particularly promising.
I’m not warning you off this completely – I think there’s definitely potential, especially since it’s supposed to be a 7 book series (I have a sneaking suspicion that the books are going to follow interactions with – or even the actual characters of – the Seven Seals) but I can’t get into this world.
Maybe part of this issue is also because I’ve been rereading Harry Potter and I’ve been sucked, once more, into the wonder Rowling created. Her world, which did not alter our own drastically, was much more relatable than Shannon’s, but that doesn’t mean Shannon’s is inferior. I respect her creativity very much, but I’m so, so confused.
And here’s the other thing: I’m so over love triangles. Of all kinds. I don’t care if it’s because it’s unrequited or because the girl is a total b***h or because they’re angsty teenagers who can’t figure out the difference between love and lust. I just hate love triangles. Now, the love triangle in this was not what I expected (the human one plays a minor role), but this time there were pretty much two love triangles. It’s like my worst nightmare, squared. The second love triangle is the one that you totally see coming if you have any concept of how novels with romantic elements work: girl meets guy who’s involved with other girl, she hates him at first, but then she comes to love him. Oh, and he’s loved her pretty much the whole time. And they’re willing to sacrifice lots for each other after they realize they really do trust each other.
I’m sorry, but it’s just like every other book ever written ever.
Also, if you know Greco-Roman mythology, you should pretty much get the Cupid/Psyche myth allusions off the bat. The Adonis/Aphrodite stuff later was kind of surprising, but in a world where there are creatures from the aether who may or may not be incarnations of death (???) or maybe spirits trapped in truly toxic relationships… well, anything goes.
Okay, sorry, I got off track. Other than love triangles, what was it that confused me? Oh, right.
Let me reiterate: I want Shannon to succeed. I think this has great potential. And somehow, I imagine I’ll get suckered into reading the next one because I want to see what happens in the non-human/human love triangle (I know where I’d take it, but I want to see if that’s the way she’s going to take it). But I still don’t know what happened in the book.
Why are people rebelling? And what’s the difference in all the factions of weirdos/normals/Reph-I-think-they’re-really-speaking-dementors? Like, I need a total chart system to get all this straight. If you think Lord of the Rings is tough to keep track of, holy mackerel. This one will throw your head into a gold medal dive into the deep end.
There are also elements of historical events, but I don’t get how it affects the aforementioned factions.
And let me repeat: for the first 250 pages, I had no idea what was going on. At page 409, when the romance that’s been simmering finally boils over, I really wanted to finish. And as soon as the Warden (the Reph that takes care of Paige) enters the picture, I knew he was… well, let’s just say that if you saw Snape’s storyline coming (and I proudly state that I predicted probably 90% of that by Order of the Phoenix) you know this guy is going to be in the same kind of boat. So you keep reading to make sure he’s really what you think he is.
Oooh, I just realized that the whole Warden/Paige situation that’s weird and complicated is very similar to the Suze/Jesse storyline of Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series (which I totally recommend).
I’ve seriously lost my place in my thoughts, so I’m just going to wrap this up. Out of five stars, I’d give The Bone Season a solid 3. On the high side. I’m going to read the next one (probably) and after a while (over halfway) I kind of almost cared. And let me tell you, the romance at page 409 is, like, worth it. Because nothing really happens, but the tension is ridiculous. And then you don’t understand anything that’s happening again.
So ultimately, here it is: give Shannon a shot. She’s a budding writer, she’s going to develop, and there are moments of really great reading. Just don’t try to analyze/understand too intensely – you’ll only be more confused.