Can I just say finally? After everything I’ve said in lately about female heroines in literature, I’ve finally found a book to buck the trend. I’ve been looking for one popular series, one that will make it big and display a strong female. Well, the hype surrounding the Bone Season had eluded me until recently, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’ll be the next series sensation, I would say, and more so – Paige is just brilliant. Here comes the bullet point breakdown… (adapted from my Goodreads review).
- I believe that a lot of books that target teenagers/young adults are watered down. David Levithan’s Every Day infuriated me because it makes out that they are stupid, not deserving of any real plot or explanation. Shannon’s book not only has created its own sub-culture, blending paranormal realms with the every day cities we know, but she – where appropriate – makes an effort to explain why. It’s an intelligent and well thought out setting, and one that gives credit to readers. I had to focus when reading it to understand the initial explanations of the world, whereas I could lazily read some of the others, as they lacked anything that required thought.
- Paige herself is in a place of power. Jaxon is the typical possessive character, in that she is a commodity to him (not through her looks, but her abilities, which in itself is a change). He is (basically) the typical controlling guy. But when taken, she keeps her power. She is placed in a subservient position through her surroundings and the established hierarchy but fights it every step of the way.
- She, like Katniss, has a survival instinct, but not at the cost of others. Liss is a great example of her need to protect, as is her constant (attempted) deceptions over the Seven Seals. She never loses her will to escape, to ultimately survive beyond her prison, but will not sacrifice the others.
- The underlying relationship plotline is exactly that: underlying. How refreshing it is to see something brewing between a pair as something secondary to the plot. Her relationship with the Warden deserves its own bullet point, because it typifies exactly what I wish the other books would clue into, but there’s a natural progression in their relationship without taking away from the actual plot.
- Her relationship with the Warden (insert celebratory klaxon here). It’s weird because the subservient nature of women is what irked me, but she is there through the established set up. It soon becomes apparent that he doesn’t indulge in their darker treatment of humans, and in turn is made clear that he, too, is a prisoner of sorts. They soon establish a tutor and student deal, superseding the perceived dominance, and then the relationship becomes more natural over time.
- She calls him out when she finds out he’d explored her dreams. She ultimately forgives him in the end, but unlike others I’ve read she holds onto her anger until a genuine change occurs. No eyelashes fluttered and discrepancies immediately forgiven.
- There’s no sugar coating things. Life is dealt with in a true fashion. Paige finds out Nick doesn’t reciprocate her love and her response is to go out on the rebound and seek attention from the first person who gives her it, proof she is more than just her powers. He drags her to a parking lot and they fleetingly have sex. She immediately regrets it, so much so she blacked it out. Is she judged for it? No. Things like this happen. This is a more common scenario than is painted elsewhere. What’s more is it’s not shamed, it’s just held as a mistake in her mind.
These are just a few bullet points, but I could go into so many more. So to a more succinct approach…
Some plot moments felt a bit predictable, and some character traits you could pluck from other literary characters. To people who read paranormal-type fantasy novels regularly, this may not be as original as it seems to an outsider, but it’s a refreshing change to find this being the latest hyped one, over all those that put a man’s love (regardless of behaviour) ahead of talent, life.
This is the kind of book I’ve been looking for, purely because I feel like this is both well written and well thought out, but also gives young readers credit enough to have a decent plot and a new setting with multiple layers of hierarchy. I think that comes more from the rage of Every Day, which hasn’t quite left yet.
So, yes. I really enjoyed this and I think it goes against everything that’s been complained about in my blog. I’d love the opportunity to include a feature in my project with Samantha Shannon discussing this. That may be too much to hope for, but alas.
I’m glad this looks like it’ll be the next TV or movie sensation, because it’s definitely bucking the trend.