Monday, August 5, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I'm working with another librarian to put together a program for young adults called "Books + Burritos."  It's going to be a ton of fun.  We lure the teens in with promise of food and then we book talk upcoming books.  My colleague has been able to acquire a bunch of ARCs and we'll be giving away books that night, too!  So, we've  been reading books like crazy to prepare.

They're saying that Samantha Shannon is the next J. K. Rowling.  At least, that's what her publisher is really hoping.  The Bone Season is supposed to be the first in a seven-book series that follows nineteen-year-old dreamwalker Paige Mahoney, as she learns to utilize her gift against the puppet government, Scion. It's already being optioned for a movie by Andy Serkis' studio. I made the mistake of reading this Forbes article before finishing the book and found out that Shannon is a 21-year-old student at Oxford who interned at a publishing house going through the "slush" pile and so she has a basic idea of what is selling and why.  Which kind of explained my ambivalence toward this book, I think.

Basically, Shannon took a strong heroine like Katniss from The Hunger Games, a supernatural love interest (think Edward from Twilight), engaged them in a slightly icky (though definitely PG) power dynamic a la Fifty Shades of Grey, then threw in a few White Walkers from Game of Thrones (although, here they're the "Buzzers") for an element of danger, oh and don't forget a band of ragtag refugees ready to overthrow "the man."  Need I even mention that this is set in a dystopian future? (It seems that trope is a given these days.)

It's more complicated than that of course. Which is exactly the problem.  Its waaaaay more complicated than that.  The world building is massive and info-dumpy.  I want to be able to recommend this to teens (and probably will--it was fun), but I'm afraid the kind of kids to whom it would appeal would be put off by the crazy amount of world building.  And the ones that can handle the world building will see how poorly it's done.

Hopefully, this will find a market and make billions of dollars so that Bloomsbury will then be able to afford to publish the kind of books I like to read.  It will be interesting to see how it does over the next few months.  And like I kind of mentioned earlier--it was fun. Definitely a page-turner.  I probably won't see the series through to the end, but I would have been so upset if the NetGalley copy had expired before I finished it.

<I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and read it on my *shocking, I know* Kindle.>


  1. Hahaha, I scrunched up my face at this. I think I'll steer clear -- I've had enough derivative YA for a while. I think there needs to be a new YA trend for a while so I can have a break from paranormal romances and dystopian worlds.

  2. I totally agree! I'm really tired of the dystopian thing, too. I heard a really funny/interesting podcast where Jackie Kashian from the Dork Forest interviewed Lois McMaster Bujold (one of my fav fantasy authors). They were saying how much they liked Star Trek growing up because it portrayed the future in a positive light where we actually had our act together.

    Hopefully, the next big fad will come along and we'll get a little break from the paranormal romances and dystopian futures.