Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Provided Synopsis: It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
Review: The Bone Season is easily one of the most talked about books of 2013. As the first in a seven book series, it has already been optioned for a movie, is on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and has been advertised with the magical phrase of, “the next J.K. Rowling,” to describe the twenty-one year old author. So did this book live up to the hype? In some ways, I consider it to have succeeded in its promise, while in other ways it did not.
Paige Mahoney is our protagonist of the story. She is a dreamwalker, classified in an order known as a clairvoyant in the dystopian society that is London in the year 2059. To be clairvoyant is to be unnatural since it provides a connection to the spiritual world; the government in place, named Scion, has tasked itself with removing the unnatural members from regular society, and that is where our story begins once Paige is caught and sent to a penal colony in the town that had once been known as Oxford. Enslaved with others like her, Paige enters a race for survival. She must protect her ability from those that wish to steal it from her, she must find a way to return to London, she must test the limits of her trust, and she must learn the truth about the government and its agreement with those that keep her imprisoned. I enjoyed traveling down this road with Paige. She is a heroine that seemed real, despite the uniqueness created by her abilities.
What made this book unsuccessful was the explanation of the mythology behind it. This is a world that is entirely unique, thus it required immense explanation in order for the reader to understand what was happening. I often felt extremely overwhelmed by all of the names and information that were thrown around, along with the relationship between clairvoyants and the spiritual world. I am not even sure how the author could have improved upon this since the bottom line is that this is a very complex universe and I believe she did the best that she could. If I were to ever write a book, however, I would want to simplify the mythology of my world for easier understanding. I can only hope that a possible re-read of the story and the eventual second book will create a clearer picture so that I will not feel as overwhelmed.
With a brilliant ending that finally had the author finding her stride in terms of balancing character development, action, and suspense, I am certain that the second novel will be an improvement and a must-read for even those that did not care much for this book. It is confusing, but its uniqueness makes it a compelling read.