The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) Review

28260402Book: The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3)

Author: Samantha Shannon

I picked this one up at YALC at the end of July, but didn’t get to it until recently, I had several books I was really excited for in August and this one just happened to end up at the bottom of the pile, I’m glad I waited though as there’s nothing better than having a brilliant book to read on a five hour train journey up to Scotland! This is definitely my favourite book of the series so far, the plot was tighter, the character development was excellent and I loved the expansion of the world that Shannon has created with two additional Scion citadels that we got to see in this book. It also ends in a really exciting place with the indicator that action within Scion Europe is going to be happening in the next book so I am seriously excited about that. Here is a short synopsis of this book:

The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

I mean the book starts with a map, and you really can’t go wrong with a good map. It’s just a map of the UK, but Scion’s Britain isn’t separated into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it has different sectors in each of the different countries of the UK (eg Lowlands and Highlands is Scotland, Westlands is Wales & North East, North West, South East, South West and Midlands are England. Ireland is an entire entity rather than being split into North and South).

I liked that the book picked up right where the last book left off, as it was a rather big cliffhanger, so it would have felt weird if it had time jumped right away, instead there is a prologue which starts with the events directly after the end of the Mime Order.

Shannon always does a killer opening paragraph, she definitely has a way of making me get hooked instantly from the first paragraph of her book!

The book does have a short time jump, of about three weeks after the prologue, which I get was necessary, as you want to see Paige as Underqueen after things have settled a little, but it was still a little jarring.

I can definitely say I found the pacing so much better in this book. The chapters were shorter, the action was faster and the plot had one single purpose, finding and destroying Senshield and all of the characters’ actions are towards this goal, there’s no windy paths to the ultimate endgame like there was in The Mime Order, it was simple and straightforward which I liked.

Paige’s character development was another thing I loved. Paige has grown so much since The Bone Season, she still makes mistakes and a lot of them to be sure, but if she didn’t then she wouldn’t feel like a realistic nineteen year old, but she’s also a clever leader, she’s brave, she does what’s best and truly cares about the voyants in her care, she’s brave and much more confident than she was previously, it’s just brilliant to have seen her grow into this amazing young woman. It’s great to see her dreamwalking gift having improved as well. I like that even though she has this really rare gift, she doesn’t come off as being special-snowflake like, she’s still flawed and fallible even with this amazing gift.

It was nice to see more of the other characters in this as well, I loved seeing Paige’s relationship with the members of her Unnatural Assembly explored. I especially liked seeing her and Eliza together, as I always like a good female friendship. We also got a bit more background on Nick which was cool, and some background on Maria. It was cool to see the changes Paige made to the Syndicate and how this changed her relationship to the people in it.

I like that LGBTQ rep is so easily woven into this story, there’s nothing about it being illegal in Scion or people frowning on it or anything, it’s just there, which is exactly how it should be. Nick was confirmed gay in the first book (it was so sad that Jax came between him and Zeke!) and in this book Ivy was confirmed to be LGBT (it’s not clear whether she’s lesbian or bisexual, but she is confirmed to have had a female lover). I feel like Wynn might be a lesbian but that’s not on page canon so don’t quote me on that!

I’m still not really into Paige and Warden as a couple, I was actually quite pleased that they were separated for most of this book and Paige was focused on things other than Warden! I don’t know, Warden still kind of eludes me as a character, three books in and I still don’t really feel like I know him at all. He was missing for a few chapters there and when he turned up again, I found that I hadn’t really missed them! They did have a nice moment towards the end of the book when he buoys her up after she’s feeling down but that’s about it. I don’t know, I feel they might be better as friends than lovers? Maybe I’m just not really feeling the romance vibe! I did love that when they did have a somewhat steamy scene, Shannon showed consent at all stages of physical contact, this should be a more normal thing!

I loved that there was so much underground stuff in this book, I have a big thing about caves and tunnels, my current WIPs contain both, so whenever I see books that have them, I get really excited!

I love the structure of the book, the three sections with the named chapters and the small interludes between each part, was great!

The world building expansion in this book was great, I loved getting to see other Scion citadels, with Manchester and Edinburgh, and how they differed from the London citadel, I especially loved the parts in Edinburgh because I live near there whilst I’m at Uni and I’ve actually been to the Edinburgh vaults! The stakes also felt a lot higher, Scion is clearly upping their game what with Senshield and everything and it truly felt like there was a large possibility for failure for Paige which is always good. We also got to see some of the other Scion incursions which was pretty cool and the end of the book seems like there is going to be huge scope for the rest of the series, which is awesome. There was a great bit where the entire syndicate conduct a mass seance to send a message to other voyants which I thought was really cool.

I liked that everything wasn’t easy for Paige, she really has to struggle to get anywhere in this book, which yes is frustrating for her, but it’s good to see because it shows her overcoming obstacles and makes her victories seem more well earned than if she got everything she wanted easily. I also liked seeing her struggle as leader of the syndicate and make mistakes because it made me root for her more. Her decisions didn’t always make sense to me, but I know she was doing what she thought was best.

There were a lot of great action sequences that I really enjoyed and even a few twists that I wasn’t expecting.

This is totally off topic, but I really appreciated the pun in ScionIDE!

I liked that we got a little bit more about Paige’s past in Ireland, we got to see snippets of it in the first book, but it played even more of a role in this book. I’m hoping that at some point in the books, Paige will return to Ireland!

I wasn’t sure about Samantha Shannon’s writing initially in The Bone Season, but it’s clear that she’s improved a lot over the last few years and I actually really enjoyed the writing style in this book.

I really loved the ending, the entire last part was definitely my favourite bit of the book, it was definitely a very satisfying conclusion. I wish I could talk more about it without being spoilery, but I can’t! All I can really say without being spoilery is that there is a really cool dance scene and the plot of the book is resolved in a satisfying way, whilst also being open to some awesome possibilities for the rest of the series.

Overall, this is definitely my favourite book of the series so far, I enjoyed the more streamlined plot and faster pace, I was initially worried about how much shorter this book was compared to the other two, but I think it worked in it’s favour. I also loved the character development of Paige and the expansion of the world and I think that this book has set up for the next one to be really great. I was sceptical about this series to begin with, but I’m so excited to see where the rest of the series goes from here, I thought seven books would be too long, but there are so many possibilities for this series, I can’t wait to see where Paige ends up (though I’m not going to lie, much as I have enjoyed binging this series this summer, I’m not looking forward to the wait for the fourth book!).

My Rating: 5/5 (my first since ACOL in March!).

My next review will be of the second book in the Red Queen series, Glass Sword.

 

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The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) Review

17901125Book: The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

Author: Samantha Shannon

I wasn’t intending on picking up this one so soon after I read the last one, but when I was almost done with The Bone Season, I had a doctor’s appointment that I knew I would be waiting a while for and I didn’t have another book, so like a typical bookworm, I stopped by Waterstones en route to my appointment in order to make sure I had enough material for the long wait! I then put it down for a week whilst I read my July #RockMyTBR book, but luckily it wasn’t too difficult to get re-engrossed in the story and Shannon’s dystopic/fantasy world. I liked this one much better than it’s predecessor, it was easier to become immersed in the world as I understood more of the terms that had confused me in the first book, I wasn’t flipping back to the glossary the whole time (in fact I hardly used it, but it is there for anyone who is still confused about all the different clairvoyant terms), I found the Syndicate politics a lot more gripping than I’d found the penal colony of the Rephaim in the first book, the secondary characters were more fleshed out than they were in The Bone Season and the world building was definitely much improved from the first book. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

The Mime Order picks up right where The Bone Season left off, we’re thrown straight back into the action after a short, sort of prologue I guess from Paige, it’s a good, gripping opening, but it might be worth reading a recap of the first book or doing a reread before reading this one as you are thrown straight back into the action.

It was good to see Paige being affected by what happened to her in Sheol I, it was a traumatic experience and it would have been unrealistic for her not to have been affected by it at all. I loved her development in this, she grows so much from the person she was in The Bone Season, her gift has grown considerably, she’s reckless and doesn’t always make the smartest decisions, but she’s a fierce friend and will do whatever she has to in order to change the syndicate and make sure that word about the Rephaim gets out. I liked that she didn’t feel like the super strong, super perfect heroine, she doesn’t get things right all the time and she’s kind of a reluctant heroine and this makes her all the more relatable and easy to root for.

I liked that we got to find out exactly how the others knew she was in Sheol I in the last book because that had been bugging me for a while!

The pacing was again quite slow, but I found that actually worked for this book. It was more of a mystery than the first one, so a fast paced action packed story wouldn’t really have worked (though there are definitely some great action sequences throughout), it was better to have the slow unfurling of the plot. At first I was worried as to how all the different pieces would fit together (the Rephaim, the challenge for Underlord/queen, the Rag and Bone Man etc) but it all slotted together very wonderfully in the end. The first part is definitely the slowest, things start to pick up in the second half and the third half moves at pretty breakneck speed.

I loved that this book focused more on the Syndicate, it was so great to get to see all of the dirty criminal goings on and the politics and different gangs and everything, I found that so much more interesting than the plot with the Rephaim from the last book. We finally got to see Paige properly interact with the Seals, and find out more about them so they feel like more fleshed out people in this book which was awesome. I loved seeing her friendship with Nick as well, it’s so nice to see platonic m/f friendships, although it would be nice if authors could recognise that you can have platonic m/f friendships between straight men and women, it doesn’t have to be that the only reason for the relationship being platonic is that one of them is gay, like can we have gay rep and platonic m/f friendships please? I found Nick’s new relationship with Zeke really cute and look forward to seeing where it goes in the next book particularly as the ending had some pretty big implications for them.

It was so interesting to finally see Paige interact with Jaxon properly, they have a kind of puppet/puppet master relationship, but they’re both kind of pulling each other’s strings if that makes sense? It’s quite complicated because Paige owes a lot to Jax and yet she knows how cruel he is and doesn’t want to be under his thumb anymore, and despite his flaws, it’s clear that Jax does in some way care for Paige, so it’s a very interesting dynamic that the two of them have and I look forward to seeing more of it in the next book.

I loved the setting, Shannon’s version of London is a grimy, gritty, dark criminal underworld and it’s an awesome backdrop for this tale. I love it when authors use settings that I am familiar with, because even though Shannon’s London is a future one, it still employs settings that I know, such as Camden where a lot of the book is based.

The mystery of who murdered the Underlord (not really a spoiler, it happens early in the book), was pretty gripping, but then it morphs into a load of other mysteries about the Syndicate and Scion and it was all so twisted and corrupt, it was awesome! The stakes definitely felt much higher in this one, what with the challenge for Underlord/queen and Paige being wanted by Scion, I really felt for Paige as she was constantly worried about getting caught and wanting to keep a low profile but also wanting to get the word about the Rephaim out there.

Total aside, but there was a bibliomancer in this, a voyant who uses spirits in order to find books to publish and I would totally love to be that voyant! The voyants and their powers are all so cool, it was great to see more than just Paige’s voyant powers in this book and to learn more about the different types of voyants in the syndicate. The world in general felt a lot more developed in this and I feel like I understand much better now how Paige’s London works and how it and clairvoyancy came to be, it was great to see Shannon stepping it up in that respect. There are quite a lot of different types of voyants, but it’s easy enough to keep track, with the orders of clairvoyants at the back of the book.

The chapters were still perhaps a little overlong, but in general, aside from a few typos, I felt like Shannon’s writing flowed a lot better in this book than it did in the previous one. I loved that the chapters were named, it’s an extra detail that I really appreciate!

I’m still not totally invested with Paige’s romance with Warden, I don’t know if it’s just that I can’t get on board with the whole slave/master romance thing (I know she’s free now, but she was for all intents and purposes his slave) or if it’s the fact that Warden doesn’t really have much of a personality to speak of, but they don’t make me swoon. Warden just doesn’t really do anything for me, he feels really blank and I know that’s part of the Rephaite character but I’d love it if he had a bit more of a character than just being morally dubious.

I loved the maps at the front, I think all fantasy books should have maps, it makes it so much easier to envisage the world!

There were several great twists throughout the book, most of which I didn’t see coming, which I loved!

The scrimmage was so exciting, it was basically two whole chapters of pure action and I loved it, it was all these voyants in the same ring, using their voyant powers which was really awesome! I don’t want to spoil the ending of the fight for you guys, so all I can say is that it’s really cool. It did feel like it took a long time to get there though, we found out about it pretty early on but it only happened in the last part.

THAT ENDING! I did not see it coming and I have so many questions! It’s set up for a very exciting book three and I can’t wait to see where Paige and the others go from here, as I still have a lot of questions from this book which I need answers to!

This was a great second book, the slower pace actually worked for it this time, the focus on the Syndicate rather than the Rephaim made it much more interesting, the slightly dodgy romance from the first book took a back seat, there were some awesome twists, the writing was more smooth, the world and characters were better developed, it was miles better than the first book. I was a little iffy going into this one but I’m now really excited for book three!

My rating: 4/5

My next review will be of my August #RockMyTBR read, Six of Crows.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) Review

20590667Book: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)

Author: Samantha Shannon

I bought this book last summer, but of course, like all the books I buy, it has been languishing on my shelf for a year before I finally got around to it! I had heard some amazing things about this book from my friend so I was really excited for it. And it was good, it was, the world building was skilled (albeit I could have used a few more details), the writing was decent (though perhaps a little complex in places) and I loved the main character but it was a little confusing in places and it took a long time for me to warm up to the world and story. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

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 people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, 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. Her trainer. Her 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.

The concept of the world is very unique, I’ve never read anything like it before, so props to the author for that! However, being so different, it does get a little confusing at times.

You’re hit with information right from the off, with a map and a list of the orders of clairvoyance right at the front of the book and whilst I appreciate that this was information we needed as readers, it’s a lot to take in right at the start of a book!

The opening was extremely engaging, unfortunately this doesn’t last through the whole book, whilst the opening chapters have a decent pace to them, the pace does lag a bit in the middle before picking up again at breakneck speed, I would have liked it if it had kept a more even pace throughout.

There are a lot of new terms thrown at you straight from the start, and whilst the author is helpful in providing a glossary for all of the clairvoyant terms, it is a little distracting having to flip back and forth all the time when you don’t understand something.

The chapters were also overly long, sometimes twenty or thirty pages, and this doesn’t really work for me, I feel like long chapters slow the pace of a book down considerably and I often have to leave off in the middle of chapters which I really hate!

The world building is decent for some things, you do learn about the different types of voyants and what they can all do, so the fantasy system is built up quite well and you learn quite a bit about the history of the Rephaim (this humanoid type race, that are immortal, it’s kind of vague on exactly what they are) but I didn’t feel like the history of Scion was explained very well. We don’t get to understand how this alternate UK came to be, and there’s a vague explanation as to why clairvoyants have become feared but it’s not fleshed out much. We also don’t know exactly how clairvoyancy became a thing. I’m hoping that we will get more development on some of these things in later books, because this world has so much potential if only it was fleshed out a bit more.

The action sequences were decent, but they are interspersed with a LOT of Paige’s inner monologues and lengthy descriptions that I possibly could have done without. The writing was occasionally a little complicated and I didn’t always understand exactly what was going on.

Paige really grew on me. At first she just seemed like every other dystopian heroine ever, but she grows a lot throughout the novel and by the end I found myself really rooting for her. Her ability was so awesome too, basically being able to walk into other people’s minds! She’s feisty yes, but she’s also intelligent and kind and felt like a realistically flawed person, so I really enjoyed her. Warden was mysterious, but really frustrating because you never really understand what his motives are or what exactly he’s doing. The rest of the characters never really felt fleshed out enough, we don’t really get to know any of Paige’s fellow prisoners in much depth. We get to see how Paige feels about the Seals, but we’re not really with them long enough to find out much about them and Paige’s relationship to them. The only ones I could really form any opinion on were Nick, who seemed lovely, but then we are seeing him through Paige’s biased eyes, and Jaxon, who seemed like a total ass. I’m hoping that in the next book we get to see more of the Seals and them, and their relationship with Paige will be developed more. Learning about her past through the flashbacks was interesting, although they were rather clumsily included and I think the transitions between the past and the present could have been smoother

I HATED the romance, it was totally unnecessary and exploited one of my least favourite tropes. CAN WE NOT WITH THE WHOLE MASTER/SLAVE ROMANCE THING? It’s not sexy, it’s not romantic, it’s disgusting! I don’t care if he’s “not like the others”, he still owns her, allows her to be branded, watch her friends die in front of her, be beaten, nearly starved etc. We really need to stop with this trope, because it’s not cool. Not to mention, he’s like 200 and she’s 19. What is with this? Authors, it’s not cool to have your teenage protagonist dating a hundreds of year old immortal. Period.

The climax felt a little rushed to me, the last few chapters went by very fast, too fast almost to take all of it in but I think this was again just another offshoot of the pacing being very off throughout the book.

Overall, this was a decent debut, with an interesting concept and a main character you can root for, but there is a lot to be improved on in future books, hopefully the rest of the series will be better edited so the writing is less clunky and there are less huge chunks of information and the pacing will be better. I think there is potential for the future books as the concept is great, perhaps the author was just overly ambitious for her debut and crammed too much in there. I don’t really see how this series is going to stretch out into seven books, but I look forward to seeing where it goes in the next book.

My rating: 3/5

My next review will be of my July #RockMyTBR read, Frozen Charlotte.