Review: ‘The Bone Season’ is a Sure-Fire Fantasy Adventure
Working for a site such as Mockingjay.net, you get a lot of books thrown your way. We screen many of them, reading them before we agree to review them. Not all of them make it onto the site, but the ones that do have caught our attention for one reason or another. (Keep reading to find out how you can win one of their special numbered advance review copies from Mockingjay.net!)
Such is the case with The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon. Due for global release on August 20, 2013, The Bone Season has managed to kick up quite a bit of fuss overseas with publisher Bloomsbury. The buzz around Shannon is posing the question, is she the next J.K. Rowling? Bloomsbury should know, since they published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back in 1997 and propelled her into publishing super stardom. I was sent one of 150 gorgeous limited edition proofs and the novel is currently being translated into 19 languages.
Haven’t heard of the author? That’s not surprising, since her story is similar to that of American fiction writer Veronica Roth. They both signed major publishing deals while still in college. Shannon is currently in her third year of study at Oxford and is set to graduate just before the release date of The Bone Season. A book release as large as this one is without a doubt a remarkable accomplishment for someone so young.
The Bone Season is the first of a planned seven part series that takes place in futuristic London in the year 2059. Our protagonist is nineteen year-old Paige Mahoney, who works in the London Underground crime syndicate of clairvoyants (voyants for short). Recruited at the age of sixteen, Paige works for the mime-lord of Cohort I-4, Jaxon Hall. A man who is more or less a voyant “pimp”, Hall has gathered into his employ six highly gifted voyants to help him with various tasks in his business of breaking into people’s minds, which is referred to as “mime-crime” in Scion London. Her mysterious code name is The Pale Dreamer.
Watching over the city is the Republic of Scion, a government force that strives to hunt down and arrest voyants. This is because Paige’s gift of clairvoyance is completely illegal. Any voyant caught by Scion is never seen or heard from again unless they’re being publicly hanged from the gallows.
This is the world Paige lives in when she risks taking a train to visit her father, who has no idea of her criminal life. When two Scion Underguards board her train and begin questioning her, Paige is trapped. In her desperation, she pushes her gift to new limits and invades the minds of the officers, incapacitating them and killing them in the process. Although she makes it to her father’s home, she is eventually found, captured, and taken to the Tower, where she is tortured with an excruciatingly painful drug specially designed for voyants.
She is eventually transported with dozens of other voyant prisoners to the penal colony of Sheol I, which is actually the city of Oxford, now forbidden to citizens of Scion London. This is where Samantha Shannon takes the world she has created and jumps over a proverbial cliff, crash landing the reader and Paige Mahoney into a thrilling and mysterious adventure you’d never expect. She is “auctioned” off like a slave in Bone Season XX in what can be compared to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Reaping. She is branded like cattle as XX-59-40 and placed under Arcturus Mesarthim, known as The Warden. She must learn to adapt quickly, for death haunts every corner for voyants in Sheol I.
The Bone Season’s strength resides a lot in Paige Mahoney, who is a tough-as-nails protagonist that has already progressed through the boring self-awakening process that I find to be the fatal flaw of so many young adult novels out there today. Similar to Katniss, she fights and she fights hard. Her will to survive is endearing and the world Shannon has built around her never dulls. It’s easy to see why her publisher has so much faith in its potential.
The review copy I have in my hands is 454 pages and I read it in less than three days. It only took me that “long” because I was so busy, but I was so hooked into the book that I took it everywhere with me. I had to be able to bust it out and get in a couple more pages while waiting in line somewhere or during timeouts at my son’s football game. We had company over during that time, yet I rudely sat on the couch, book in hand.
When I was in college, I took a creative writing course and my professor insisted that if a writer doesn’t pull you in from the first page, they haven’t done their job. He told us to imagine a would-be book buyer standing in a bookstore (a concept now a tad outdated, sadly), opening a novel and reading the first page. This is the author’s one chance to grab a reader and that first page has to be compelling. He copied the first chapter of Harry Potter for us as a shining example of a great draw, pointing out how even the chapter title, “The Boy Who Lived” drew the reader in immediately. I feel that lesson remains true, even in today’s world of e-books. The Bone Season grabbed me from page one and never really let go. The giddiness I feel in getting to read the book so early is overshadowed by the knowledge that this only makes the amount of time I have to wait for the next book that much longer.
As has become my custom, whenever I love a book enough to support it, I start a fansite, so be sure to check out ThePaleDreamer.com and follow @XX5940 on Twitter. If you’d like to read an excerpt from the book, visit The Bone Season on Facebook.
I feel I should also note that in addition to some really cool maps (I love maps!), there is a very helpful glossary of British slang and Bone Season terms in the back, something that I wish I’d known about from the start. It took me about half the book to correctly guess what “skilly” is. To celebrate 75 days remaining to release, author Samantha Shannon published a character pronunciation guide, which was not included in the ARC.
Pre-order The Bone Season at Amazon and watch the official book trailer here:
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