The Bone Season Review – Don’t Expect Good Things

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Summary: “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” (Goodreads).

This is my opinion. No offense is meant toward anyone who loves The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

This is one of the worst books I’ve read in 2018 (alongside The Looking Glass Wars). A lot of people asked me why I kept reading it if I knew I hated it from the first 60 pages. I’m not one to quit things, especially when I’ve DNF’d books that ended up becoming favorites later. As well, I knew that I’d have a lot of good content to get back into blogging with…because I haven’t published a review in around a month.

Anyway, onto the fun stuff. This is going to be a long one, so maybe get a snack and cozy up with a blanket or two. I’m about to get salty.

This book would have been a thousand times better if Shannon wrote well. This book radiates “debut author!” in the simplistic writing style, unpolished nature, and cliche-filled plot. I predicted most things pages before they happened, which takes away the fun of any surprise. As well, the first chapter was a blatant info-dump; I haven’t read a book in ages that actually starts with “My name is…” Like, no, that’s not how to start a book. Show, don’t tell. In general, this book suffered from more showing than telling, with little subtleties ever shown. The only thing close to subtle was an instance of foreshadowing using a flower, but it was glaringly obvious it was meant to foreshadow or symbolize something.

There’s an actual line in the book that goes like: “My sixth sense trembled” and I just about lost it. (This line followed the flower scene.) You know it’s bad when I told all of my friends at school about that line (or even other lines because it just got worse from there). I was actually dramatic-reading it to multiple friends at times. There’s a scene where Paige rebounds from the person she liked (who doesn’t feel the same way) and I cringed the entire time. It was just so…awful. And she just seemed so desperate. I was not a fan.

So it wasn’t off to a good start with the writing, but I was intrigued by the world it started in!! And then…well, we’re kicked out of the world. So. The world-building died right around there as well; I think if it were set in the beginning location (the Citadel, I believe) or if the rest of the book had been given the same attention, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

The magic system started out making sense, but then it gradually got more complicated and more extensive. At least there’s a chart in the front of my copy that actually said everything, but I was so confused throughout the novel. It just seemed really messy. While the magic system was actually fascinating, there were so many facets to it that complicated it to the point of confusion.

One of the worst things for me was the blending of genres. I like knowing what I’m getting into. I didn’t read one of the Nancy Drew books because I knew there was time travel in it and all of the others were “realistic.” I just…don’t blend genres. It doesn’t work for me. So I was basically “okay” (I mean, I still hated the book, but not to this extent) until all of a sudden it turns out that there’s…vampires? For anyone who cares about context, I’m not a huge fan of vampires. I can take werewolves, but vampires are just a nope from me. In moderation, sure, but the whole concept of drinking blood and whatnot is eh, especially when romanticized.

I guess this is where the spoilers come in, so if you want to read this book…beware.

I was immediately turned off when the Warden started drinking Paige’s blood. I have no idea where that came from, but it was a hard no from me. I really don’t see the appeal with their relationship. It had an unbalanced power dynamic that I can really never get behind. I didn’t ever see them getting together because I thought of him in terms of a bad guy/power figure. When they did get together, their relationship seemed to speed up abruptly and never really worked in my eyes as a romantic thing. It seemed mostly based on lust and lack of other opportunities. I also don’t entirely love the message this book sends that…you know, it’s okay to date the guy who has you locked up in his control and basically purchased you. The slave/slave-owner dynamic is a little too messed up for my taste. Nope. Nope. Nope.

In the other realm of problematic things, I really, really hate when sexuality is used as a plot twist. Nick’s sexuality was thrown in as a way of making Paige’s life “worse.” (Not to mention, I totally saw it coming because it’s such a cliche).

End Spoilers

All in all, this book just didn’t work. It was messily written, had some problematic content, and wasn’t structured well given plot, world-building, and the magic system. I couldn’t connect to the characters because they all felt like archetypes. There were times when Paige acted out of character; I never really could place her personality because she was so underdeveloped.

Honestly, I think if this book underwent a few more stages of editing it would have been somewhat okay. I could have taken the genre blending (that’s mostly a personal preference) if the writing hadn’t been so awful. While her next two books may be better, I don’t care enough to try when there are so many other books out there waiting to be read.

There were two good things about this book: the dialogue between characters was strong (maybe not written well, but like the characters knew each other off-page) and the cover is beautiful. The amount of times people came up to me at school saying how pretty the book was without the dust-jacket…like, dang. I had to break their hearts just a little with “but the insides aren’t.

Thank you for reading if you’ve gotten this far. Again, this is just my opinion and no disrespect is meant to the author or to anyone who loves Shannon’s work. Of course, if you think you’d like it, give it a shot, because I know this is everyone and their mom’s favorite book.

-Book Hugger

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