One major problem I had with Shadow and Bone was the characters. All of the characters in this book were very one dimensional. Alina, the main protagonist, was just a mix of every single YA female stereotype ever. She acted very different throughout the entire book. I never really cared what happened to her. Another character that really fell flat for me was the Darkling. His evilness seemed extremely forced and unnatural. I as a reader never actually feared him as a villain. I did not like his character either.
All the other smaller character also appeared as paper cutouts instead of actual people. Characters such as Zoya, Marie, Sergeii, David, Bodkin, and Baghra were all very stereotypical. None of them had personalities outside of the stereotypes Leigh Bardugo gave them.
There were two characters that were strong though. The first character I really liked was Mal. Mal was such a strong, brave, and devote character. He was not perfect, but he always tried to fix his mistakes. My only emotional reaction in this entire story was when (view spoiler) I only wish that we would have seen Mal more in the first half before we meet him again in the second half. Alina said that he had changed since she had been at the Little Palace, but I couldn’t see a real change in Mal. I think if we got to know the “old” Mal better we could better compare him to the “new” Mal. The other character I adored was Genya. She was super funny, super sassy, and a great companion to Alina.
The other problem I had with this book was the world building. For the first one hundred pages, I was very confused, because I was just thrust into the world without any explanation. Even by the end, I still don’t fully understand the Grisha universe. And because I didn’t know it inside and out, some of the scenes that were supposed to be emotional or shocking really fell flat because I didn’t understand the world or what they were referring to. That being said the Grisha world was very intriguing and has a lot of potential.
One question I had the entire time I was reading this story was this: What is the Grisha’s place in this world? Are they slaves? Soldiers? Aristocrats? Are they honored? Rejected? What do people think of them? Do people want to be Grisha?
Another thing that really didn’t help make understanding the world easier was the proper nouns. Almost all of the people, places, Grisha titles, or items exclusive to the Grisha universe had names impossible to pronounce or even remember. This made the story have unnecessary confusion.
The romance in this book was also very mixed up. I really liked Alina’s relationship with Mal when they were friends but their romantic relationship had no development. I wish they would have just stayed friends. The other love interest was the Darkling. I really did not see what Alina ever saw in him. Their relationship just confused me.
I thought the pacing of this book was a little weird. Up to page two hundred the book was pretty slow. I did not mind it though. But in the last one hundred fifty pages everything happened. To much happened actually.
I don’t know if I’m going to read the rest of this series.Shadow and Bone was pretty entertaining but it was kind of hard for me to get around its technical flaws. I don’t really recommend Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I hope that if you do decide to pick this book up, you enjoy it more than I did.