Sunday 22 June 2014

Mr B's Reading Year - The Bone Season

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

This is my fourth (?) Mr B's book, and I really wanted to enjoy it. As Emma, my bibliotherapist said, it's a debut written by a very talented young women (and I mean really young – I'm very jealous of her for managing to be so committed, as she's my age!) and it has been highly received by lots of readers. It was originally published last summer, there are going to be six (SIX!) more, and the film rights have already been sold to Andy Serkis's Studio (yep, that's Gollum to you and me!). On top of that it has already been translated into 28 different languages! So, basically, a lot people think there's a lot of positive things going for it.

The Bone Season is set in 2059, and is a dystopian future where clairvoyants (people with special magic-type abilities) are singled out, and scape-goated for all problems in the new world. It begins in London (quite fun, as there are recognisable landmarks) and continues in Oxford (fun, for the same reasons!). Paige Mahoney, nineteen, is the main character: a clairvoyant whose special ability is to be capable of moving in and out of the minds of others people, known as a dreamwalker. She is part of a gang of sorts, working underground, although Paige's father is a key part of the non-clairvoyant government. It involves magic, steam-punk elements, a sort-of vampire-mortal style relationship and a feisty heroine. What could go wrong?

Well, for me, it didn't work. The first section is a bit of an information-dump, lots of telling and not a lot of showing. We certainly need to glean a lot of information about Shannon's world, but there are more effective ways of doing it. There was too much stated, and, for me, there was too much in one go. I wonder whether this says something about me as a reader, rather than Shannon as a writer: maybe I'm just too stupid or lazy a reader to appreciate her work? I'd like to think not, but you never know... The convolution got worse progressively throughout the novel. There are some really good moments, but there are some plot holes and graunchy scenes that just ruined it for me. I couldn't keep up with the information flow, and didn't warm to some of the other characters; again, there were too many for me to keep track of. (Although I loved Liss and Julian).

I was really disappointed with this book: not only because I didn't enjoy it, but because it was one of my Mr B's books that Emma had chosen for me personally, so I want to like these books even more (like I did for Burial Rites.) Ah well – not every book chosen is going to be perfect. Sorry Emma, but I hope I like the next one!

Mime Order, the second in the septet, is coming out later this year, but I don't think that I'll be reading it, sadly.


  1. I've heard such mixed reactions about this book that I've been afraid to start it--it's one of those cases where the massive hype didn't really do the book any favors, imo.

    The author is pretty young and it's her debut, which may explain some of the issues with the writing technique that you mention. I find fantasy already a hit or miss genre for me, and it sounds like a lot of what I struggle with is not handled well at all in this book. Thanks for the honest review!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Yeah, I was nervous after reading all the hype and, ultimately, disappointed. Such a shame, but I hope she continues to grow as a writer; as you said, she's very young.

      Just give this one a miss!

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