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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Review


The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is a highly anticipated debut that's going to hit the stands on the 20th of August 2013.

I was lucky enough to get an uncorrected proof copy of the book from Bloomsbury, the publishers, and even though at first I didn't think I would end up liking the book, I ended up devouring it!

So before I move on to the review, here's what The British Fantasy Society has to say about the book:
'Marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented British writer set to challenge the worldwide bestseller list domination of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and Suzanne Collins' 'The Hunger Games.'

The Bone Season is slated to release in August 2013 and this is just the first in a series of seven novels, but already it has been sold in 18 countries and film rights have been optioned by The Imaginarium Studios, a film company led by Andy Serkis of The Lord of The Rings fame and Jonathan Cavendish, producer of Bridget Jones' Diary.


20. 08.2013

Let me tell you in the very beginning that I generally do not read books from the fantasy genre. The only ones I did read is the Twilight series, and that too coz it was highly recommended, but then again, I didn't get really charmed by it or anything. I have not read any Harry Potter series, neither have I watched the movies except the 1st part, same case with the Twilight movie series, of which I only watched the 1st part and then once I started on the 2nd, I had lost interest already.

When Bloomsbury sent me the uncorrected proof copy of this book to read and review, I was a bit sceptical in the beginning, especially as the first few pages are quite tough to grasp, if you don't have any clue of what's going on. Obviously, with the book not released yet and not many reviews around, this can get difficult. I did struggle in the first few pages, but that's about it. Once I got an idea of what was going on, it started getting better and better, and soon, I couldn't wait to turn the pages, so much so that it became quite the obsession. And can you believe it....I'm actually quite cursing the author and the publisher for now leaving me in the lurch for the next parts......come on!!!!! I'm so desperate to devour the rest now!

Here's a little idea to the premise and what's the story all about:

The year is 2059 and the setting is London. The world is now clearly divided, between the natural human beings and the 'un-naturals.' For most part, the un-naturals do not realise that there are others like them, and many of them feel 'different', that there's something wrong with them, confused and un-sure of their special powers. The world is now a place where these 'un-natural' people can manipulate others with their mind, and ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) reaches an all-new level.

So you have people who can read what's going on in your mind, people who can enter your mind and see what you're thinking, people who can enter your mind to look into your past, present or future, people who can make you bleed in front of them simply by experiencing fury in their mind, people who can make you dream a particular time of your life and look into it and there's a constant clash between these people and the spirits. In this world, you are either born a Voyant (clairvoyant) or an Amaurotic, and the protagonist, Paige Mahoney, leads a double life, hiding her true self from Scion, the official security force, letting her father believe that she is a normal Amaurotic woman working in an oxygen bar, while in real, she is a dreamwalker, and works for the Seven Seals which is the underground organisation where she works as an informant. While she succeeds in hiding her special powers from the Scion, she ends up hurting two men using her powers, and that is how the Scion discovers her. She is attacked and taken to Sheol I, a prison society headed by the Rephaim, a kind of 'human' being who sustain themselves on human aura. Though the Rephaims look like humans, they aren't really humans, but in fact, are a separate kind of being altogether, and are here to govern the rest of the un-naturals who come in. Here, in Sheol I, Paige is drugged and taken prisoner.

She is assigned to Warden, who is to be her master and her trainer. He is a Rephaite overlord who is allowed to control her very existence, from what she does to when she eats (or doesn't). Her Warden's name is Arcturus Mesarthim, and unlike other regular Rephaims who are unbelievably cruel and will stop at no length to hurt their captives, Arcturus shows some leniency towards Paige and encourages her to learn better and develop her skills. The reason behind this unlikely gesture is unknown, and Paige cannot make any sense out of it, especially when there's so much violence and torture all around her, and prisoners are beaten and killed at will. All Paige wants to do is get back to her previous life, but ironically, she first needs to merge in with the ways and rituals of Sheol I in order to get out of it.

Author Samantha Shannon has created an entire new world out there. What blew me away was the fact that it's way easier to write about things that you know exist, that have been around you or you may have experienced, that have been a part of your memory or something you heard or read about, but creating an entirely new world altogether, with characters, characteristics, settings and occurrences that didn't really happen, and doing it so well, is mind-boggling. There are layers and layers in Samantha Shannon's work, and not only is there a world other than the 'normal' one, that of the Scion, but there's also Sheol I, the prison colony that is an entire world in itself.


The author's work is undoubtedly done with great detail and research (I can't imagine what she researched if she already created everything from scratch), and there's a deep understanding behind every character, be it the protagonist, the main characters around the protagonist, or even the the most basic character in the book - every one has been treated with immense detail and understanding. Her creation of new words, terms, phrases and ideas is superb, and it does take some time to get the hang of it and be confident that you're understanding all of it, but it does happen. And once you get the knack of it, you simply cannot move away from this world created by this young genius of an author.

And the best part? That no where in the story does it feel weird or 'un-natural' - her characters and her world are THAT real and believable!

For some reason the book has been classified as YA and I don't agree. Well, if liking and loving this book classifies me as 'young', I don't mind ;-) but on a serious note, I personally think the publishers need to remove the YA tag, as it may make it look restricted to only a particular age bracket, when it's not actually so. There is so much understanding and grasping involved that it's not even funny, and as much as the teens and the youngsters are going to lap it up, I'm sure The Bone Season is just the beginning of an internationally record-breaking phenomena that's going to happen this August 2013.


- Debolina Raja Gupta