Friday, August 9, 2013
Me on The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Release Date: August 20, 2013
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 chosen by 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 is a dark and dangerous debut, a novel filled with intrigue, mystery, and paranormal curiosities. At times the danger is elusive, much like the aether itself, intangible but very present. It conceals secrets, that expose, could change a number of things in the world Paige inhabits. But at other times the danger is very clear, it pushes down on Paige like a weight, attempting to crush her, and she must find the will to push back and survive.
Paige is an unlikely heroine, not fearless but rather foolish, and more than a little stubborn. She is flawed, flawed in ways that shape her and make her stand out. Her ability to dreamwalk makes her a wild card, it intrigues those with hopes of power and control, but her fate will depend on how much she can control her ability. How far she can push her limits. She often dwells on the past, on what she learned about her ability, on those that protected her and taught her. And, in a sense, she fears the future. She's afraid of what she might be able to do. She's afraid of being a killer.
Paige has certain fingers in her life, in her past and the book's present, that have shaped her. Two are part of the crime group the Seven Seals. The third is Warden. All are men who have shaped her, taught her, cared for her in their own (depending on the character, sometimes genuine and sometimes twisted) ways. I found it curious that the three are all male characters. In a way they're like father figures to Paige, but in another way they aren't. There's no real strong female presence in Paige's life. There are those in the crime group, there is one in Oxford, but there is no female character that nurtures and instructs her. Perhaps there will be one in the next book.
The futuristic and fantastical world the author presents isn't necessarily richly described, it feels more and more like a dangerous and crumbling world than a thriving one, but it's rather present on each page. The re-working of historical events, the addition of the aether, the varying types of clairvoyants and their abilities. This is very much a world different from our own, one filled with spirit and shadow, with fear and rebellion.
Trust is important, it keeps Paige breathing. It keeps her alive. And she needs to stay alive if she's going to be of any use to anyone. But it's deciding who to trust that is the hardest for Paige. She knows what she knows, she sees what she sees, but the world she ends up in in Oxford has secrets, secrets that could change her mind about some of those in charge, and she will have to decide if she can put her trust in a few more people.
I feel bad for Samantha Shannon being called the next J.K. Rowling. It puts so much unneeded pressure on her to deliver a series as magical and powerful and emotional. Shannon is not the next Rowling, she's her own person, her own author. This is her story. Once something long-running ends, people are left adrift, searching for something as similar as possible to keep them going. Could this be what they're looking for? That's up to each individual reader to determine. Also, I certainly wouldn't recommend this series to children.
That being said, I found this to be thrilling, dangerous, and very intriguing. At times the story is rather dense, filled with backstory that exposes Paige's secrets and dreams, but my attention was always captured. I can see this interesting teenagers as well as adults, Paige's age of nineteen straddles the line. Her voice is young, untested, frightened, but she has spirit. Of course, considering what happens and what Paige uncovers, I am both curious and nervous as to where the author will take Paige over the course of seven books.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Bloomsbury through NetGalley.)