The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon | Book Review

The Bone Season book cover

The first few chapters of The Bone Season left me confused. Set in 2059 and in a dystopian world in which clairvoyants exist and are labelled as criminals by the government, this story involves some serious worldbuilding and I found myself feeling a bit bamboozled by the clairvoyant lingo. However, the action kicked in pretty quickly and kept me enthralled, even when I wasn’t quite sure who was who and how things worked.

The Bone Season follows the story of Paige, a young clairvoyant who is capable of breaking into peoples’ dreamscapes and poking around in their minds. She works for an underground criminal syndicate, but when she gets into a bit of a kerfuffle with some of the evil government’s soldiers, she’s captured and sent off to a secret settlement run by a non-human race who treat their human prisoners like animals. Sound complicated? It is a bit.

I don’t know where to start in this review. I enjoyed the book a lot, but there were certainly points where I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. There are a lot of characters – so many that I forgot a lot of names along the way – and loads of technical terms about the aether and clairvoyance and the spirit world which went over my head.

There is a glossary at the back of the book which is helpful, but I found myself a lot of the time simply skimming over certain words or phrases without checking what they actually meant. It didn’t really affect my understanding of the main plot, however, which leads me onto my next point, I suppose.

I think there could have been less waffle, at times. Shannon writes action brilliantly, but lengthy descriptions of setting or past events halt the momentum from time to time. The worldbuilding is vast and vivid, so of course we need these elements described to us. However, I feel that Paige’s narration lacked some personality during some of these passages, which made them a bit tough to get through.

On that note, let’s talk about Paige. I’ve seen The Bone Season being compared to The Hunger Games quite a few times, and while I agree to a certain extent, Paige is so much more compelling than Katniss. I found Katniss to be irritatingly gripey and whiny, despite her being hailed as a strong, kickass heroine. I think Paige came across as genuinely strong; she remained determined to fight for her freedom throughout the book, while also doing her best to help others without gloating about it.

You know what I could really do without, though? The romance. I won’t spoil it, but I saw it coming a mile off. It felt unnecessary. It felt unrealistic. It made me roll my eyes. But romance always crops up in books like this, which means it must be popular and I’m just a grumpy old hag who hates all that mushy stuff. (That’s a lie – I like a good romance in women’s fiction, I just think when it comes to fantasy and dystopian fiction that most protagonists have enough on their plate to bother with snogging folk all over the place).

Anyway… all in all I enjoyed The Bone Season. Paige is a good’un. I’m excited to see what she gets up to next. And I reckon I’ll probably have a bit of an easier time with the sequels now I have a least some of the lingo down.

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