My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was super hyped. So I left it for months and months on my shelf, unsure if I actually wanted to read it. Until I eventually picked it up. And while I wasn’t blown away, I am still totally down to read the sequel.
The book tells the story of Paige Mahoney, a 19 year old clairvoyant of the rare ‘dreamwalker’ category, which makes her ultra-desirable to the mime-lords (leaders of the underworld voyant movement in London). She is happy enough with her own little gang, until she is captured and taken to a classified unknown colony/ prison camp, Sheol I. Young voyants are somewhat celebrated here for their gifts, but are tortured and ruled over by the Rephaim, a secret superhuman race.
Samantha Shannon is a super young British author and this is her first published novel. The first of an expected seven book series – hence the hype (the next J.K. Rowling?!) I wouldn’t go that far, despite film rights to The Bone Season already being sold, before even the third book has been released.
But the world that she created really was interesting. A combination of fantasy, 19th century London, and some futuristic technologies, being set in 2059. The Scion is a sufficiently evil governing body controlling all of the voyants in Britain. And the Rephaim are similarly foul and torturous. The book is punctuated by drawn out flashbacks, by way of Paige’s backstory. These are useful, because there is no other explanation of Paige’s character, however I would have appreciated them to be more spread out. It seemed like they were all crammed into the second half, which broke up the exciting climax, and meant that for a lot of the book there seemed to be no reason why Paige was the way she was. I suppose then, that the book would benefit from a re-reading.
Given this lack of understanding, I never particularly warmed to Paige’s character. It seemed to me, that almost all the secondary and even some background characters were better characterised than Paige herself. Perhaps this was an intentional move on Shannon’s part, as the entire novel is focalised though Paige herself, and she is still learning and does a lot of growing as a person throughout The Bone Season. There is a really good villain though!
I found the beginning of this book to be quite slow and it wasn’t really until the last 150 pages or so that I actually found myself excited to see what was going to be happening next. So the pacing was a little off, and it followed some of the expected tropes. Also, there was at least one completely unnecessary, and even creepy maybe, love interest that I just didn’t understand at all. But those last 150 pages, were enough to satisfy this reader, I will most likely be picking up the sequel at some point, just maybe not for a little while yet…