The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon Review

Friday, August 1, 2014

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon (Twitter)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: August 20, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian Fantasy
Pages: 466
Source: Personal Copy

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'll admit that The Bone Season has been on my shelf for some time now, but I've simply put off reading it based on the vast and categorically un-streamlined reviews. From what I've seen, people seem to either love it or hate it, and I'm the type of person that hates being on one strict side or the other.  But, I was in the mood for a futuristic fantasy novel, and I knew that this was the one book that I'd eventually have to pick up because, for better or worse, it clearly elicits quite the emotion from its readers. First and foremost, I'll state that Samantha Shannon has written a masterpiece of a novel. Like it or not, the world within these pages is well-defined, beautifully paced and welcomes you into a world that's dark, alluring and mysterious.

Having such a backdrop demands that readers be given a fantastic heroine, as well, and I was pleased to see that Paige fit the bill in its entirety. Paige is a force to be reckoned with. At times quiet and pensive, but other times reckless with abandon, we get to see through this sort of dichotomy that she is a layered, complex sort of girl. Simple - she's the type of character (and person) that I'd want to get to know. Perhaps the best part of her character though was the fact that I could see a little bit of myself in her. She toys with Warden, testing the limits and bounds, but when she retreats, we see that she's caring, observant and kind, and that keeps her in our good graces.

Warden, on the other hand, stole the show for me. In theory, I should have hated him. As the enemy, I knew that this should have been in black and white for all to see, but Ms. Shannon makes it so that there is something so very enigmatic about him that we see him instead in shades of grey. Furthermore, he doesn't really fit into any specific mold or definition. He's a million things at once, but he's never quite any of them either. He's a quiet, dangerous, powerful and beautiful character that is so very rich that I have to say he might just be the highlight of the entire novel for me. Because, in the end, even though Paige is strong and resilient, Warden equally matches - and bests her - in terms of charisma.

The Bone Season was, at times, a bit overwhelming because it is so very complex, but Ms. Shannon does well in creating a scene that is memorable and vivid, capturing us and absorbing us completely. It's a task to take on though, I'll admit, and it was daunting at the start. However, it's the type of novel that has a quiet, brooding power that will overtake even the most stoic of readers if only they'll give it a chance. I give it a high 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and upper YA, especially those who enjoy fantasy, urban fantasy and dystopian novels.


  1. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Bone Season, Melissa. What an amazing novel, the world building, Paige, Warden - I could go on right?! And all those terms - cool, but crazy for the brain. Love your review, and it makes me that much more excited for book two :)

  2. YESSS I am so glad you loved it Melissa and chose to pick it up, I loved the complex world building in this one, once we got the hang of all the terms. Paige was a mystery and so was Warden, I was kind of unconvinced on their romance but cannot wait until the next book. Lovely review Melissa!

  3. I felt the same way, Melissa! The world was complex and so were the characters, imo. Once I got into it I couldn't put it down - and I am so, so excited for the sequel now. :D Great review!

  4. Ahh! I'm glad you loved this, Melissa. I've been putting off reading my copy of this book mostly because the book is frighteningly big and I've heard some mixed things about it, but I might have to change that soon.
    I love the sound of the complex characters and I might already be a little bit obsessed with Warden.
    Lovely review!

  5. Loved Warden. He's supposed to be the bad guy and yet, he's something more. It really was so complex and I was a tad overwhelmed...until I wasn't. Definitely looking forward to the next one!

  6. YESSS! SO happy that you loved this one too, Melissa! Kristen insisted that I read it and I was so happy I did, I loved it! Paige was a fantastic character and Warden was such a mystery, I was never sure if I liked him or not!
    And the world-building?? I adored the fantasy and dystopia/alternate history mix of it!

  7. Ooooh nice! I still need to read this one myself! I became intrigued by it and was a little hesitant with the sort of love or hate it reviews too. But I got it for a deal at TJMaxx earlier this year. Haven't had time to read it though. Must rectify that soon! Glad it was a good read with rememberable characters!

  8. I have to agree that Warden sealed the deal on this one for me. I hate admitting that the love interest played such a crucial role in my like/dislike of a novel as it feels like belittling a complex tale down to a simple romance, but in this case I don't because the complexity of Warden and Paige's relationship is--essentially--what the entire novel more-or-less focuses on. I can't wait to see how the tale expands in the sequel. I'm really hoping it's just as good. *fingers crossed*

  9. What a fantastic review, Melissa. I must say I had goosebumps while reading your review. I haven't really decided yet whether I'll ever read THE BONE SEASON, because like I've read so many polarizing opinions about it. Now, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this one so I could see Paige and Warden in all their glory.

  10. Okay, that is one amazing review, and I'm itching to get my hands on The Bone Season! Cannot wait to read it!

  11. Like you mentioned, this seems to be one of those books you either love or hate. I haven't read it yet because the hype makes me a bit nervous, but your review has definitely inspired me to give it a try ASAP! :) Paige sounds like an absolutely fantastic heroine, and Warden sounds like such an intimate, complex character. Thanks for convincing me to give this a try Melissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  12. It makes me so very happy that you enjoyed The Bone Season! Even though the first few chapters are a bit difficult to get through, and the clairvoyants and their system can get confusing, I still fell in love with the world Samantha Shannon created. I'm looking forward to The Mime Order and finding out what happened next!

  13. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I do agree that it's a difficult sort of book to figure out at first - even the synopsis is a bit confusing! But fortunately Shannon really does know how to build a convincing world, and I actually think the worldbuilding is the strongest aspect of this novel. I'm definitely intrigued to see where the story goes from here!

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