The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon
ISBN - 9781408836422 (Hardcover)
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Release date - Out now
'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.'
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine - a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It 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
I read The Bone Season shortly after it came out. I went to an event where Samantha was talking about the book along with its planned (six!) sequels and I knew I had to read it. I went home that night, started the book, finished it about 24 hours later but even though I completely fell in love with Paige, Nick, Warden, London, Oxford and Samantha's writing I just couldn't write a review. A draft sat in my dashboard for months until I deleted it earlier this year. I cheekily decided to request The Mime Order and somehow (despite my appalling percentage on there!) I was approved, promptly started reading The Bone Season again and this time had a completely different reading experience. And the same reviewing experience, this has been sitting for nearly two months now..
So what makes The Bone Season so difficult for me to review? I honestly have no idea. I love Samantha's writing, it doesn't feel like first book writing if that makes any sense? And her characters? Are fantastically written and alive, to me anyway. I wanted to get to know all of them, even the bad ones. The Bone Season has been marketed as an adult novel but I can certainly see why there is so much YA appeal. There is stunning, meticulous world-building, slang and vocabulary you won't have heard of anywhere else and a raft of ideas that I've not really seen woven together anywhere else.
I love that Paige's world is our world essentially, what our world could be, what our world might be if you consider the possibilities of the alternate timeline. I spent my late teens and most of my twenties living in London and Oxford so it was fun to read these alternative pictures of them and imagine what it would have been like with Voyants, the Scion Guard and the threat of death or being locked up hanging over your head if you even show a tiny bit of talent.
Paige is probably one of my favorite characters, just as well really, living and working in London for one of the Mime Lords (Jax, not one of my favorites) whilst still finding time to visit her father. It's on one such visit that she is captured and delivered to the Rephaim, prized because of her (so far) unique talent and handed over to Warden, one of the Rephaite Keepers. From the start though, her relationship with Warden is not what she expects or what we expect from the story and although he is at times cruel you can see the bond between them growing. Paige is headstrong, stubborn and independent and of course not going to settle for being locked up in Oxford with her life being threatened every day, either by other voyants or the humans living & working as Rephaite slaves. She is determined to get out of there, soon, and take as many people possible with her. First though she has to deal with a bigger threat than the Rephaim, a race called the Emim. This is why the Rephaim use the voyants and why the Scion government is only too happy to keep sending them so that the Emim don't become more of a threat.
The action starts on page one and really doesn't let off until the last page, an awful lot happens, people die (or go missing) so don't get particularly attached to anyone because you just never know! By the end of The Bone Season some of the most beloved characters are nowhere to be found, with no-one knowing if they're dead or alive. Definitely worth a read for an amazing futuristic fantasy but also completely understandable why people either seem to love it or hate it, it's a long book for some at 466 pages and there is an awful lot to take in - between the history, the different voyants, the language, you're always learning something new especially in the first half of the book but that was part of the appeal for me. If someone was writing my perfect book, tailored to what I love? I suspect it would look an awful like The Bone Season. And on that note, I'll finish. I get the feeling this is going to be the most rambling of my reviews... Coming soon, The Mime Order!