The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is a very ambitious combination of psychic powers, underground crime syndicates, and otherworldly creatures. I’ll admit I had put off reading The Bone Season for this long because I’m just not that into psychic powers for some reason and the blurb never grabbed me, and it turns out that perhaps my first instincts were right. I can see the impressive and original parts of The Bone Season, and I still read through it surprisingly fast, but by the end I just didn’t actually feel anything still. Since I know a lot of you have read and loved this one, I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts!
Note: I received a copy of The Bone Season from the publisher.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #1)
Published by Bloomsbury on Aug. 20th, 2013
Genres: Alternative History, Dystopia, Fantasy, Genre-bender, YA
Page Length: 452 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
- I love speculative fiction that seems to take place in our current time period, but has a completely different history because supernatural powers have always been known to exist. The Bone Season does a great job of this with a history and world built around the firm knowledge that psychic abilities exist, but most people don’t have them. It’s fun to think about how that kind of change ripples out to every major invention and event in history!
- The Bone Season presents a fairly unique and fresh take on psychic powers in that there are LOTS of kinds that I had never read about before and they mostly revolve logically around the use of and communication with spirits that for some reason didn’t move on. There is a chart at the beginning of The Bone Season that outlines the major groups of powers, but even that is just a sliver from what I can tell.
- The world of The Bone Season is exceedingly complex and layered. I always applaud detailed world-building because I love me some world-building :D.
- The writing of The Bone Season has that sort of addictive-can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it quality. I can’t tell you why I was moved to continue turning pages and kept wanting to pick The Bone Season back up, but I did despite my reservations.
- I knew it was a bad sign when I closed The Bone Season after turning the last page with a dry eye despite scenes that were clearly meant to move me. I cry easily at books and I should have cried, but I simply felt nothing for these characters. I can’t even say that I particularly disliked Paige and the various secondary characters, I just don’t feel anything for them.
- I was reading a paperback copy of The Bone Season and there are STILL egregious typos like repeated sections of a sentence including the period. How have these not been caught and fixed by now??? I have never seen such bad typos in a finished book!
- I was so hopeful that The Bone Season would kick the “YA must have romance” trope to the curb, but no. Right at the end a romance that I feel highly uncomfortable about was just shoved right in there. Evidently I missed the signs, but really it’s more that I ignored the signs because I really didn’t want it to happen, but it did anyway.
- I am still just not enchanted by the idea of psychic powers. Give me elemental magic any day, but as soon as it has to do with spirits and reading cards, I’m just lost. This is obviously COMPLETELY personal preference, but definitely factored into my experience with The Bone Season.
- While I am impressed with the world of The Bone Season, I feel that Shannon tried to shove too much together. There are about three different MAJOR aspects of the world that could easily have been explored in their own book. Because they were all stuffed into one, there was less time for character development, leading to my first point. I’m pretty convinced that the reason I don’t care about Paige and her struggles is because I just didn’t have a chance to ever really get to know Paige!
- Speaking of way too much, there are also way too many secondary characters to keep track of easily or to develop ties to. I’m not really convinced of how Paige could have connected with the new people she meets given how little interaction she has with some of them, making it impossible for me to feel for her described emotions.
- There is a glossary in the back and you NEED to refer to it if you are not already familiar with British slang! I did not realize that this glossary existed and really don’t like referring to a glossary anyway since it pulls me out of the story. However, if you’re determined to actually understand a lot of what is going on, you should try looking everything up and perhaps you’ll have a more enjoyable time than I did *fingers crossed*.
The Bone Season has been loved by many many people, and I can see somewhat why that is. It is, however, also clear to me that my instincts for this not being an “Anya book” were somehow right on. If you are excited about the idea of psychic powers and already familiar with British slang, you might downright love The Bone Season and I hope you give it a try. I do think, though, that The Bone Season was overambitious and didn’t succeed in being a book that can be enjoyed without prerequisites. I think I’ll still be reading The Mime Order though since I always have hope ;-).
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
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