Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Blogmas 8: #reviewsdaytuesday The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

**EDIT: This post was meant to go up yesterday, but, because I forgot to press 'publish', it didn't. There will be a bonus post some point this month to complete the 24 days of Blogmas!**

I had heard so much hype about Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season, so when I saw it at £2.50 on TheBookPeople I had to pick it up.

Set in the future (2059, to be precise), Shannon imagines an alternative world - a world where people can commune with a spirit world, and those people who can are peresucted and sent to mysterious prisons. The story follows Paige Mahoney - a teenage girl who is part of a clairvoyant underworld in London. However, not long into the story she is captured by the government Scion and taken to a prison compound. There she discovers that things are not all that they seem, and that a mysterious alien race is controlling her government in order to protect them from something much, much, worse.

The story starts off in a very 'telling' way. Paige explains, loosely, to us about the government, the clairvoyants, and her place in it. I'm often skeptical about stories that start this way - Paige has no need to recall the past, so why does she except for the benefit of the reader? I would much rather a story that threw you into the deep end, where the world in unveiled through the plot and dialogue of the story rather than through an opening monologue. However, if a story does choose to 'tell' me the world rather than 'show' me it, I expect to fully understand it. Shannon hits a halfway house, she tells me a bit about the world but not enough for me to feel confident in it. She shows me a bit about the world, but not enough that I understand it before Paige is swept away from it.

Once Paige is in an unfamiliar environment, her and the reader are put on much more equal footing and we both begin to discover the world together.The story becomes much more powerful, as Paige is discovering herself in this new place, and reconstructing her idea's about the outside world. It would almost have been worth beginning the story with the sorting of the characters in the 'prison world' (a group of prisoners are split up between different wardens) and flashing back to how she ended up there, in my opinion.

I didn't find many of the relationships convincing - except the relationship between Paige and Nick (the Scandinavian doctor who helps her discover her clairvoyant ability). The relationship between Paige and her Warden was very confusing and conflicted but in a very obvious, over dramatic way way ('I hate him but I'm also attracted to him, oh what to do?!').

The book opens with a diagram of the different types of clairvoyancy and a map of the penal colony that Paige gets sent to. For me, both of these things felt totally unnecessary. The different types of clairvoyants list would have been useful if different types of clairvoyants were actually featured prominently in the story, or if the list actually explained how those different clairvoyants operated. The map had very little detail on it, and it wasn't as if I was constantly trying to locate her - I just accepted where she was at any given time and didn't need to know it in relation to other things.

In short, this was a debut novel that felt like a debut novel. I can't tell if it was under-edited or just poorly edited - the plot itself should be so interesting but it never gripped me. I was desperate to see more of her life outside the colony - whether in flashbacks or as a prelude to the story which would colour the world more richly.

I don't really like posting negative reviews (she writes two days after the disappointing hair product post), but this book underwhelmed me after all the hype.

Have you read The Bone Season? What did you think of it?

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