At last, I have completed book one of my fifty book pledge. I’m nervous, as I’m already behind schedule. With 50 books to read, I have about 7 days to read each book, and only 14 days allowance. I will have to pick up the pace and earn some of that leeway back if I want to reach my goal – time to HUSTLE!
Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season was my choice for the first book of the year. The book had a whole lot of reputation to live up to, as pre-publication hype was heavy. Bloomsbury, keen to release another global bestseller, was touting it as ‘the next Harry Potter.’ On top of that, word on the street was there had been an intense bidding war over the rights – something absolutely unheard of for an untried author.
I have to admit that I picked this one up a couple times and put it back down again before I really delved into it. The elaborate plot background and jargon-heavy text necessitates a glossary and made it difficult for me to sink into the story; not an impossible hurdle, but it was difficult to get started.
The story itself is engaging but not entirely unique: a futuristic/dystopian novel reminiscent of John Wyndham’s 1955 classic The Chrysalids.
The Bone Season’s protagonist Paige Mahoney is a teenage clairvoyant. In the police state of Scion, clairvoyance is a punishable offence – a plague to be eliminated. However, Paige has found a place as a member of an underground crime syndicate, where she begins to develop her powers by working for a powerful mime-lord (read clairvoyant mob-boss). Early on, she is captured and transported to a penal colony outside of London – Sheol I, which we discover was created with the help of the Scion government after an alien incursion onto earth. The Rephaim are creatures who enslave clairvoyants and feed on their auras. The Scion government consider these newcomers a blessing, and enter into a partnership where they provide resources to the Rephaim in order to ‘rehabilitate’ them – in other words, to imprison them with no hope of escape.
The Rephaim identify Paige as a rare variety of clairvoyant, who is immediately indentured to one of the most powerful leaders in the colony. Her goal from that point on is to escape the colony and return to London – alive.
All in all, I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read once I got into it, and the world that Shannon has created is one of the most creative that I have been exposed to in quite awhile. While that detail can be confusing, and Shannon does have mild issues keeping on-track with the storyline, the book is a good read.