Book Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Date Published: August 20th, 2013
Date Read: September 2nd, 2013
Cover Love: It’s a great, bold cover. Very ominous and important looking.
“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”
What I’d Add:
It’s Sorta Like:
My Grade: D
I was REALLY excited to read this. It got great reviews in my usual review sources – my work, magazines, media, etc. The plot sounded intriguing. And the (vastly premature) comparisons to J.K. Rowling were promising.
So I was therefore so very disappointed when it turned out so poorly. I am slightly baffled by the glowing reviews. Flawed worldbuilding and story holes aside, I didn’t find it to be well-written – a vital requirement that was this novel’s damning downfall.
Some reviews complain of infodumping – explaining away the world and the magic involved at the expense of story action. While I agree that this is the beginning of The Bone Season‘s problem, the larger problem is that this infodumping doesn’t then tell you anything. You get snatches of unimportant details about Scion and Scheol I – like the new cultural trend of oxygen bars, and this weird historical twist where King Edward was really Jack the Ripper AND the first clairvoyant – and then leaves out ginormous chunks of hugely important information about the actual clairvoyants and what they do and how they do it. The heart of the problem is that there is just SO MUCH information to include, TOO MUCH going on in the story and the plot and the background that I am sure Shannon has memorized. But the reader cannot possibly memorize it as well.
So Samantha Shannon plops us in this world and expects us to figure stuff out. That’s cool. Plenty of other authors have done that. But they helped out a bit – allowing you to infer by context or gradually giving you telling details making up this new world. But not Shannon. You live in Scion London now. Here’s a ton of made-up vocabulary, a new system of government, society, culture, and a new race even the main character didn’t know existed. Good luck, because you’re not getting any more help understanding any of it.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Time is very fluid in Shannon’s storyline. So fluid, in fact, that I have no idea how long any character is doing anything. How long are they in Scheol I? How long between this event and the next chapter has passed, because everyone seems healed and in on some secret plan that is never explained? It’s impossible to say.
You have to work so hard to deal with this world. And maybe that effort is working for some people. Maybe they just get Shannon’s vision. I just don’t see how they can, with the narrative the way it is. This story is too large, too inclusive of too many things, to be successful. The characters show little emotion, little depth, and there’s too much information force-feeding without giving actual story to make this enjoyable. The only reason I might continue the series is if other skeptical reviewers such as myself read and review the second installment and it turns out to be a complete 180 from this one.