Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Bone-Season-headerI can’t say that I quite understood the world of The Bone Season to an extent that would have made me proud of my brain’s ability to process and retain information, but at least my confusion was not detrimental enough to keep me from enjoying the world of this book on the whole.

To simplify this new version of London, I like to compare the social structures of The Bone Season to X-Men and the mutant struggle to belong in a society that doesn’t quite understand this subgroup of humans.  Like with the mutants, the clairvoyant population started developing years and years ago, reaching greater levels today (or in the near future, rather) that have made the world on the whole uncomfortable.  Society doesn’t understand clairvoyance, and what they don’t understand they fear.  Our main character, Paige, has found a place where she feels she fits in, but this does not keep the inhospitable nature of this world from causing a heck of a lot of problems for her.

The book actually includes some charts of the different types of clairvoyant types, but what would have been more helpful is a list of characters reminding me what kind of clairvoyant they are, and what they are capable of.  There’s a reason the X-Men have names like Wolverine and Iceman, so without these clues I found myself forgetting what everyone can do past our main character.  In the end there are a few types that stick out, but for the most part most of the character details have been erased by this general idea that the characters fall into this description: there are those that can see spirits, those that can take said spirits and fling them at others in battle, and those who can manipulate the minds of others.  There’s definitely way more to it, though, and the lack of definition made me feel like I was missing out on seeing the full range of this world, even if it didn’t take anything away from the story itself.

On top of this confusion, The Bone Season decides to also riddle the pages with made up words.  My teachers from years past would be so proud of my attempts to use context clues, but no amount of educated guessing can figure out made up slang.  And then I found the glossary in the end of the book, after I had already finished it.  Ugh!  Why did no one feel the need to tell me this existed beforehand!?  But instead I was forced to struggle with new vocabulary just like with A Clockwork Orange.  No wonder I had trouble keeping track of things…

In the end these are all minor details that don’t factor too greatly into the book on the whole, but my biggest problem was with the lead male character, Warden.  Like with Reboot, I guess there was just something lacking from this introduction that kept be from getting the correct first impression, so I spent the rest of the book seeing him in such a way that did not allow the possibility of romance between the two main characters.  Not that it was a given that the book would even choose to go that route, but it is usually assumed in the genre.  So where I could have been reading into sexual tension, I was reading something more like an obstinate child being difficult around an adult.  Again, nothing major, but the book would have read a little differently had I seen it a different way.

I swear, one of these days I will write a book review that doesn’t end like this: With all the minor complaints aside, The Bone Season was still a decent entry in this genre that I seem to not be able to get away from lately, allowing it to stand out enough to make me hope for a sequel.  But it’s still no Divergent!

Final Grade: 4 out of 5     

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