Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: The Bone Season

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The year is 2059 and several major European cities are under the control of a security force known as the Scion.  People with special powers known as voyants (from clairvoyant) live a criminal existence in gangs on the fringes or society, or are captured and killed by the NVD.  But this society is not what it seems, and beneath it lies something even more sinister that our protagonist Paige Mahoney is about to discover.  Paige is a dreamwalker, someone who can enter people's minds, drive them crazy or even kill them.

The Bone Season has been receiving good reviews, with some criticism from book reviewers.  From what I understand some of the criticism lies in its similarity to other fantasy books, and I'd like to speak to that briefly.  I think people's natural tendency is to compare new books to older books so that readers will have a frame of reference.  Are some of the themes similar to other books?  Yes, but themes are typically similar and that is why they are themes, they recur.  I do not see a similarity to The Hunger Games, unless you are merely going with female protagonist that knows how to fight, which is a weak comparison at best.  As for the Harry Potter comparison, I don't really see that either.  Unless Hogwarts was a prison?  I'm starting to wonder if these book reviewers actually read the books they compared The Bone Season to.

And now for the comparisons that make sense to me.  There is an interesting Dickensian vibe here with Paige playing the role of Oliver Twist.  You also get an A Clockwork Orange vibe with some of the slang that is thrown around (not coincidentally one of Shannon's favorite books).  There is a glossary of slang at the end of the book, and it isn't used as much as in Clockwork, so there isn't a confusion factor.

The book itself is really quite original, Shannon creates a rich, developed world mostly based in Scion London, and its surrounding area.  She does a great job of world building, with the potential for more development in the upcoming sequels.  She also creates many different types and sub-types of voyants.  There is a handy reference chart at the beginning of the book, which honestly is unnecessary to appreciating the book itself.

From a purely aesthetic perspective this is a really pretty book.  It would appeal to fans of well made books everywhere.  The cover is beautiful, and the charts and maps are a nice addition, as are details like the red flyleaf with a symbol on it.  Sadly the only thing missing is a deckle edge.  No book is perfect I guess.

I loved this book.  I read it in two days (I even read it at work- ssssshhhhh don't tell my boss I may get fired).  It was really that entertaining.  It's definitely something I would suggest to everyone with an appreciation for fantasy novels, and any other good book.  Suggest, because it is rude to grab people and force them to read something.

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