Despite our determination to finish JK Rowling's new book, we haven't been able to get through it yet. We may be done with it next week. We did take a little break to read more young adult fiction. We picked up Shadow and Bone, the first book of a proposed "Grisha Trilogy", by Leigh Bardugo because we heard it was going to be made into a movie and producers thought it could be the next big thing. While it wasn't revolutionary, we enjoyed it a lot.
An orphaned young woman who was drafted into the army,Alina, discovers she has powers and is whisked off to a palace to be trained. There is a good twist in the middle of the book and it careens toward an action-packed, satisfying ending. We hate cliffhangers when books aren't out yet, so that's good. The book was entertaining all the way through. Sure, there were some things that have become cliche in this genre (insecure misfit girl who doesn't think she's pretty, love triangle), but it avoided being egregiously offensive or stupid.
We liked most of the characters, especially The Darkling and Alina's new friend, Genya. It was cool that the book was set in a fictional version of Imperial Russia (people complaining that it's inaccurate didn't get the memo that it's a made-up version). The story sucked us in and wasn't predictable. We finished this in a day. The romantic parts were good enough to make you care, but it didn't take up the entire plot. It was a subplot. There is more going on here than romance (power struggles, courage), making it more like the Hunger Games than Twilight. Not that it is as good as The Hunger Games. Hardly anything is.
The highest praise we can give any book is that we would (and will, in this case) read its sequels. We will definitely be buying the next one. If you like YA fantasy, you could do worse.
Book grade: A-
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