Book review: The Bone Season – By Samantha Shannon

boneTitle: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publishing Date: 24th April 2014 – Bloomsbury
Pages: 496
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

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.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Centred around a detailed and complex world where being a clairvoyant is a crime, The Bone Season is filled with intriguing characters, unique settings and terrifying villains!

Plot

As I said before, this is a very detailed world and it’s clear that Shannon knows it inside and out, however it did take a little time to get to grips with everything. I think once Paige arrived at Oxford, things were much clearer and I was hooked. The categories of clairvoyants were another element that took a while to understand, but fortunately there’s a key at the beginning of the novel that was a big help.

Despite the initial confusion, this novel really surprised me as it didn’t go the way I thought it would. The protagonist, Paige, spends the majority of the novel as a captive to a race of creatures called the Rephaim in the hidden city of Oxford, forced to complete a series of tests and fight off another strange race of creatures called Buzzers. I think Paige’s frustrations were portrayed really well; this new world is a complete mystery to her and the lack of answers or explanations from her captors is infuriating. I also liked the irony of Paige’s situation, since she has always believed that she was free in the Seven Seals (a clairvoyant gang), despite it being clear to the reader that she was trapped within that gang too.

The entire system of Oxford; the colour-coded clothes and the training and the history of Oxford and the Bone Seasons were all fantastically written, and I particularly enjoyed the villains – the Rephaim. Their leader, Nashira, was especially cruel, which only made me root for Paige more as she faced more trials and tribulations. That being said, I was glad that not all the Rephaim were evil, which made the relationship between Paige and Warden particularly interesting as they learned to trust each other.

Characters

As a protagonist, Paige isn’t perfect; she’s stubborn, untrusting and can be a poor judge of character (I’m talking about Jaxon here) but that’s what makes her such an interesting character. Her relationship with Warden was fun to watch, though I did suspect how it would develop. Paige’s relationships with other characters, such as the Seven Seals, Nick, Liss and Julian brought out different sides of Paige that made her a well-rounded character for me.

Warden: brooding, mysterious and loyal to a fault. I trusted him way before Paige did, and was eager for them to just get along. I’d love to learn more about Warden, especially after reading about his tumultuous relationship with Nashira. After the way things ended in The Bone Season, it’s going to be very interesting to see where his character goes.

I did not like Jaxon, not one bit. I actually disliked him more than Nashira for the simple fact that he managed to manipulate Paige in a way I think Nashira couldn’t. He was a father figure for Paige, though in reality he was only interested in her ability. By the end of the novel, Paige seemed to see him for who he truly was, and that dynamic will be very interesting going forwards…

Overall

This novel surprised me more than once and after getting to grips with the world, this was really enjoyable. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

My rating:

four of five