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The Way She Reads

My thoughts on everything I read; good, bad and indifferent.
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon The year is 2059; the place Scion London. For just under two hundred years the people in England have been divided into two groups; those who are capable of clairvoyance and those who aren’t. For just under two hundred years those who have the sight, can communicate with spirits and can touch the Aether - the spirit realm - have been prosecuted. When clairvoyance was declared an epidemic, those capable of it became outlaws; people to be hunted down, caught and eliminated.

Nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is one of those “cursed” with clairvoyance and has been working for Jaxon Hall, a powerful crime lord, for more than two years. As a dreamwalker, Paige is capable of entering other people’s dreamscapes, a power Jaxon is determined to explore and exploit.

But Jaxon is not the only one with an interest in Paige’s powers. When she has to use her powers to protect herself, Paige attracts the attention of those whose existence she wasn’t even aware of. Her subsequent arrest should have lead to a swift execution, but instead Paige finds herself transported to Oxford, a secret and hidden place, ruled by non-human entities. A place where clairvoyance is not only normal but also exploited to fulfill the needs and desires of the Rephaite overlords.

From the moment she arrives, Paige’s only goal is to make it back to London and her friends; a wish which appears impossible. Assigned to Warden, Paige is put through training which should prepare her to join the ranks of the clairvoyant army protecting the secret city. But is that all her captors want from her or do they have ulterior motives? And if they do, what might they be? Do all Rephaite expect the same from her or are there divisions among their ranks as well? Is the enigmatic Warden really Paige’s enemy or is there something else going on? Whatever Paige may discover, one thing is for sure; her life is in more danger than ever before and will never be the same again.

This is a difficult book to summarize in a meaningful way. Samantha Shannon has created a credible and very complex world and throws her reader into the middle of a character and action filled story. And, if I’m honest, I have to admit that I felt a bit lost and confused while reading the first part of this book. The world described in this book may resemble ours, it is also very different. And with Seven Orders of Clairvoyance - each having their own subdivisions and powers - it does get a bit hard keeping everything straight in your head. And the same can be said about the characters; there are enough of them in this book that the reader has to continuously pay attention in order to keep them all separated.

The author does try to make it easier on her reader by not dumping all the details about this world on them in one go. But, while this certainly makes the reading easier and the story move faster, it also means that it takes longer for the reader to get some understanding of what exactly is going on, how this world works and who is playing what role in this story. Of course this is the first title in a seven book series, and any world expected to entertain the reader for that long has to be complex and well developed. And while I’m full of admiration for the way in which Shannon managed to create a realistic world and one I could easily picture in my mind, I also have to admit that there were times when I was taken out of the story by the amount of information I had to absorb.

But, and I can’t stress this enough, it is well worth sticking with the story. Paige is a wonderful, strong, flawed and therefore completely realistic main character and I found it impossible not to get caught up in her fears, hopes and desires. The Warden is an enigmatic character that will keep both Paige and the reader guessing for a long time. In fact, there were quite a few things in this story that took me by surprise. Certain characters were introduced and I would be convinced that I knew exactly what their role in the story was going to be, only for my theory to be proven completely wrong. And I do like it when an author manages to keep my on my toes and guessing.

I also greatly appreciate that although this book is the first installment in a series and it is quite clear from the last pages that there is a lot more story to come, the author didn’t leave her readers with a massive cliffhanger. She did leave more than enough questions unanswered and facts shrouded in mystery to make me very curious about where this story is going to be taking us next, though.

It is hard to know how to categorize this book. There is a lot that reminds me of Young Adult titles such as Twilight and The Hunger Games while there are other aspects to this book that make it feel more like an adult book. I know it is being marketed as a book for adults by the publisher but in my opinion this is a perfect example of a crossover title. Anybody who enjoys a well written, imaginative and thrilling story will get a kick out of this book.

While this is a great adventure story, set in an intriguing and terrifying world and a definite page turner, this book is a lot more too. It is a story about growing up, about being different and coming to terms with that, about finding your own strengths and learning to rely on them, and most of all a story about trust. This is not a predictable book, nor does it go for easy answers; black isn’t always black nor is white always white. There were a few surprises in this book that I didn’t see coming and I fully expect there to be a lot more of those in the books to come.

And yes, I am looking forward to the rest of this story. I can’t help feeling that with this world and its inhabitants having been established in this first book, the subsequent stories will be even more intriguing and captivating.

Samantha Shannon turns out to be an author with a rich imagination and a good eye for detail. She knows how to draw her readers into her world and keep them there, captured by a need to know what is going to be happening next. I have no idea when the second Bone Season title will be released but I do know I’ll be among the first to read it when it does.