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Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date:  August 2013
Price: Rs. 499
Blurb: The year is 2059. Nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job to scout for information by breaking into peoples mind. For Paige is a dream walker, a clairvoyant and in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing. It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford, a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master, trainer and natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die. The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut. 

Snapshot:  This book is about clairvoyants and their world. These are people who can read the future, communicate with spirits, sense auras etc. Set in London 2059, its full of surprises that will keep you hooked all along the journey.

The Story from A Critics Perspective:  The author begins by developing the central and the most powerful character Paige Mahoney whose job in the underworld to invade people's mind for information. She can speak to spirits and also use them for her protection. She is one of the highest levels of voyants called "dream walker" as she can see and invade people's mind. The normal people ofcourse don't think its natural and therefore the Scion London police is always on a hunt for these. She also dwells deep into voyant classification and that really built up my interest.

However, its not just about running away and hiding from the normal people called "amaurotics" but soon Paige is kidnapped into another world ruled by organisms different than humans called "Rephaites". Rephaites/rephs believe they are superior to humans. They capture voyants every 10 years and train them, test their capabilities and make them serve them depending upon their capabilities. In short in slavery that differs in magnitudes. However their main motives are two, the land they are in called "the tower" that resembles "Oxford" (well i didn't like this part as Oxford to me has lovely castles and of course Hogwarts not a place for filth creatures, imprisonment and slavery) has dangerous creatures called "Emim" and the voyants are mainly hired to keep them away from the Rephs. The other motive is what one can call the hobby of their leader "Nashira" to kill voyants with different capabilities and enslave their spirits by doing so she gains those talents. Her dream is to now catch rare voyants and therefore Paige.  Each season of capture is "Bone Season" and hence aptly the books title. Paige is a captive of Bone Season XX. 

Each captive is tortured and if survives then claimed by people who are their masters and who train them.Paige is claimed by Nashiras fiancee Aructus and therefore it is clear from the beginning that she has a special interest in her and soon will be killed and her spirit enslaved. However Paige also has been shown to have a kind heart for she tries to help other captive friends with food, medicines whatever she can. In fact she is so kind to even save her Reph master's life when he is attacked by the Emim. She is keen to know all about Rephs their weakness and above all a way to get out of there. Aructus on the other hand is not a usual Reph master, he gives her the toughest training to develop her gift but he has a side unknown to her. He treats his human servants differently. He has a history too, a motive in that place and even some chemistry with his current student. What exactly is Aructus's motive? Will Paige ever be able to get out of there? Will she figure out how? Well read the story for that.

The Review:
Positives:  The book was hyped a lot before it was released and the author was even compared to J. K. Rowling. Then when the first reviews came people said otherwise. However I believe a work should be judged in singularity and that is what I will be doing.
First of all the author has done a great job in drawing the central character "Paige" very well and also developing the voyant world extremely well. This is very important as in such fiction stories either the reader is bombarded with too much at a time or too little and hence one is lost. Ms. Shannon scores an Ace there. The story is novel and well written.  As for comparisons its unique not similar either to The Hunger Games or The Harry Potter Series at all.

Negatives:  The Rephs are not completely portrayed in terms of what creatures they are though the author does give bits and pieces here and there but I will give her benefit of doubt that she is saving it for the sequels. The entire novel is set in London, and the Reph place is Oxford, I would have loved it more if it was some really well described out of imagination location that suited the Reph image. 

Also at a lot of places I felt my interest fading however just a few pages after that there was something that gripped me again. So if you are reading it and get bored, make sure you go a little further and you wont be disappointed. Some parts could have been totally avoided like the cousin Finn chapter.

She should have been more strategic in giving away little by little and yet enough to satisfy the reader and keeping enough for sequels, yes I know its too soon to say that but its an art to be learnt from Rowling certainly.

The Verdict:  A very novel story, well described and projected. A must read if you love the world of spirits. I am surely waiting for the sequel. Overall 3.5 stars on 5.

About the Author
Samantha Shannon was born and raised in West London. She recently finished her degree in English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she specialised in Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism.

In 2012 she signed a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing to publish the first three books in a seven-book series, beginning with 'The Bone Season'. Film rights to the novel were optioned by Andy Serkis's London-based production company, The Imaginarium Studios, in November 2012.

I thank Bloomsbury Publishers for a review copy.

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