Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Samantha Shannon - The Bone Season

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 assigned to 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.

Comment: It does make me wonder how I get interested in some books... I recall reading one or two opinions or comments as a reply to a post and that can be enough to make me interested in reading a book. I think that happened with this one and I didn't pay attention to any other detail so when I picked the book and changed it to the "currently read" status on GR and saw on the side some readers have labeled it "YA", I was not very happy. As a rule, I tend to avoid YA books, mostly because I love romances and a YA book rarely offers me what I consider a solid enough relationship worthy of the "forever" kind.
Anyway, I immediately lowered my expectations and that's why I'm certainly feeling quite impressed the story absorbed me so well, even bearing in mind less than desirable aspects (for me).

This is a fantasy story featuring Paige Mahoney, a 19 year old who has clairvoyance, something forbidden and hunted in a society that has evolved very differently from what is familiar today. 
In 1860's England, after the monarch has caused a rift in the realms because of a badly done seance, beings have entered our world and caused chaos but their natural enemies, the Rephaim, were able to come as well and control clairvoyants and everyone who manifests some kind of psychic power. To save and control the population, there were formed governments, then task forces called scions, that keep a lid on everyone. As to be expected, there are rebels and those who work against the system and that is where Paige belongs, or so she thinks. 
After causing the death of a guard, she is later caught and taken to Oxford, a city now in the control of the Rephaim, the race that has helped humans but who slaves them as well. Will Paige be able to survive in her new reality? Will she ever be free again? And what about the so called Master who seems to have a specific interest in her?

This was quite the ambitious story and I must say that, even recognizing the intricate details and situations, it was still a little too confusing at first. 
I also think that authors fall too easily for the 1st person narrator trap because even when it makes the reader feel more about that character, it's also such a limitative device that I found this to be even more confusing because we only have Paige's POV and having information about everything because she dreams or reminiscences isn't always as interesting as interactions would have been.

The world building is very complex and  it's not always easy to understand some things. As the story moves along, it starts to make sense but some concepts are very difficult to imagine. What obviously makes it interesting is that some ideas are quite ingenious. I've read some readers simplify the plot to something we can find in a YA story and that doesn't sit very well with me, to be honest, but the society created and the fact the main characters don't behave as silly teenagers, made this feel impressive enough for me. I also really liked how each character seemed to gain life, even when we only see it through Paige's eyes.

There's a complicated relationship at the center of all this, which is Paige and Warden, the Rephaim prince-to-be who will somehow help and protect her when possible. Nothing physically happens between them except a long kiss but I liked the slow development of the connection between them. They are not teenagers and their emotions are quite adult but deep down I keep thinking if she were 10 years older if would feel as amazing and some scenes would have been interpreted in a more complex way, I bet.

There are secrets to be uncovered and I kind of liked where things were going. I'm curious about the second book even if I don't feel like rushing right ow to get it.
The secondary characters are all interesting in their own way but yes, if they were ll older everything would feel much better for me. I can understand the appeal of making almost them all young, there's more room for development, but I sincerely hope that I will keep on thinking of Paige as a grown up who has feelings and wishes to be a confidant adult. But as I write this, I can see more and more semblances to YA scenarios and that crushes my opinion a bit...

All in all, this was a riveting story from a certain point on. I was really eager to know which step would Paige take next and how could others benefit from her actions. How would Warden, a character with dubious behavior among his race, be able to affect any of her options? Some scenes were quite interesting, imaginative and I hope things progress well, but now I've seen there are 7 books planned... It gets difficult to imagine how things might develop. Still, this was quite the effort.
Grade: 7/10

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