Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Series Review: 'The Bone Season' by Samantha Shannon

A spoiler free review of a series that is one of my new favourites- and which I'm not sure of the name of. There doesn't seem to be an overall name for this book series (of which two novels are currently published), so I'm going with 'The Bone Season', the title of the first in the series. I have recently scurried through both 'The Bone Season' and its sequel 'The Mime Order', and found it fascinating. Samantha Shannon (who was born in 1992... yes, 1992! She's only two years older than me. She's an inspiration. And also great to follow on Twitter.) began writing this series when at Oxford, and it's planned as a seven book opus. And I have to say, I haven't enjoyed a fantasy series as much as I enjoyed this one before. Apart from maybe 'Harry Potter'. I've always liked fantasy, and been interested in it, but it often doesn't quite grip me the way I think it should. This definitely did. Here are my thoughts:

- The fantastical system of clairvoyance is so interesting. It's a great change from systems of magic or vampirism or dystopia, which crop up so often in fantasy. I suppose this is a dystopia, but it feels like a very interesting, unique one, and one which could exist in our own world (due to the recognisable landmarks, maybe). Shannon has obviously put a lot of thought into categorising her clairvoyant system, and it really shows. Terms are explained, and there's a diagram in the opening pages. Otherworldly powers are not something I've ever been interested in before, apart from reading the odd horoscope, but I really enjoyed learning here.

-The world building is incredible. I loved Shannon's depictions of London; it really came across as a Victorian-esque, gothic, run-down city. I could picture the slums, the packed streets, the oxygen bars and the coffee houses. I loved the references to older British culture too, such as with the penny dreadfuls or Molly Malone. I think the world building really came into it's own in London: this was where the story thrived, even though Oxford was also well-depicted in the first novel. There's just something about clairvoyant London that makes it kind of... electric? I'd love to go to a Bone Season section in a theme park, or a tour of the Shannon's London like the Harry Potter studios.

- Paige is a great heroine. She's not sappy, not overly emotional, not bogged down by romance. She sacrifices things for the greater good, but not because she's just so nice or because it's the right thing to do, but because she actually wants her world to be better for her kind. She's strong rather than charitable, and a heroine with flaws too. She's physically agile but not on the level of an all action hero, and she's a clever planner too but doesn't see everything that the reader can, such as a few big reveals.

- I love the romance element. It's so well done: there's a forbidden, weird connection between two characters who shall remain nameless, and yet it doesn't overtake the plot, but rather adds to it, creating exciting dynamics and twists.

- Did Samantha Shannon read the 'House of Night' series as a child? The villains in her series really remind me of the arch-villains in that one, who are similar creatures also searching for world dominance. Both are terrifying, and also really interesting at the same time.

- The dedications are the best, always to the writers or the dreamers.

- I would really, really like to go to Oxford.

- Does it count as YA or adult? I picked it up in my local library from the Adult Fantasy section. However I've seen it on 'best YA fiction' lists, and the protagonist is a teenager, and it features tropes of YA fantasy fiction (romance, friendship, growing up).

- I'd love to learn more of the non-Scion world. Is it just like a futuristic version of our world? And I'm also curious about the rest of England- is it inhabitable, are there people there? Do people live outside of the cities? There's some mention of the North, but nothing concrete, to my memory anyway.

- The second book is better than the first, which excites me. I'm looking forward to the third.

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