I was late to Harry Potter, never understood the charm of Twilight, and only got to The Hunger Games after all three had been published and optioned. I’ve never been around for the beginning of a popular success, but I think maybe that is about to change, with Samantha Shannon’s ‘The Bone Season’.
People are describing this new series – a series of seven books already optioned by the Andy Serkis built ‘The Imaginarium Studios’ production company and set to be released in eighteen countries – as the next challenge to popular hits like Twilight and The Hunger Games. We’re not talking Brandon Sanderson level quality, but rather the type of fun that is appealing to all readers, not just hard-core fantasy fans.
My uncorrected proof leaves me a little wary of commenting too much on the grammatical choices made, as many may be fixed by the time the rest of you get around to reading it. However there are some new-writer errors that I do feel comfortable commenting on. As I have experienced for myself, Shannon has a little trouble with continuity – what happens when, when characters remember something they should only know in the future, and how much information has already been given over to the reader. They are small things, things that authors work out over time, and at this early stage in Shannon’s career – let’s remember, she is only 21 – I don’t find much need to dwell too much on them.
One major plot point which is sure to drive some crazy is the cross-species love affair. I’m a white male in his late 20s, so I’m not going to consider myself an expert on how 19 year old girls “fall” for someone: that being said, I would categorise this particular romance as a cross between “handsome and mysterious” and “Stockholm syndrome”. I, personally, really liked it, because I never distrusted the character in question, and was railing against the protagonist, imploring her to trust him, from the beginning. Others will find similarities between this romance and the Twilight romances and turn their noses up in disgust.
The simple fact, however, is that these two aspects I have drawn out are relatively minor in the face of the sheer scope and breadth of the creative genius behind this book. The magic-system she has built is subtle yet impactful, creating a world where magic-users can be feared but still outrun the law, without ever making them invincible. Fight scenes and displays of ‘magic’ are compelling, believable, fantastical, and beautifully written. Shannon does not rely upon previous tropes to prop her own writing up, rather, she takes previous tropes, moulds them to her will, and provides the reader with a new tale.
Samantha Shannon has shown in her debut book she has the talent to eclipse all who have come before her; Rowling, Meyers, and Collins all. At once dystopian and hopeless, challenging and exciting, this book stretches the imagination but never breaks it, giving the reader all they want, much they don’t, and holds them to their seats until the final page is turned.
I’m inherently sceptical of hype, especially when comparisons with Rowling, Meyers, and Collins are levelled against a new author, but this time I struck out, took a risk, and was rewarded. Samantha Shannon is without a doubt the next starlet to break the fantasy mould for the everyday-reader. The Bone Season is going to continue the change to the fantasy landscape, and I’m stoked to be along for the ride from the beginning.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8/10 from 1 reviews
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