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Thursday, August 29, 2013
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.

Summary from Goodreads

ARC received at BEA 2013

Review: The Bone Season has all the elements of an exciting novel set in an interesting new world, but  is dragged down under the weight of its own exposition. 

          Scion London is the result of history diverging from our own in the time of Edward VII with people suddenly developing psychic powers. The government, in an effort to control this phenomena, created Scion citadels. There purpose is to control the population and weed out anyone with clairvoyant abilities: the people known as "voyants". There are many different kinds of  voyants: soothsayers, palmists, oracles, tasseographers, julkies, with different abilities. A chart is provided at the start of the novel. In order to stay safe from the authorities many voyants join a crime syndicate with various gangs controlled by "mime-lords" who control various sectors of the city and engage in "mime-crime". One day she is caught and sent to the prison city Sheol I.  Paige must now fight a war against otherworldly creatures (Emim)at the behest of a different race of otherworldly creatures (Rephaim). If all of this sounds very complicated, that's because it is. 

           I'm normally the last person to complain about a complicated narrative, it's just that information in this one is provided so clumsily, and it seems to go on forever, largely at the expense of character. I understand the urge to share every detail about a world you've created, but some things seemed irrelevant or overly detailed. The description of the various sectors for example.  As for clumsy exposition: Paige entertains herself on a train ride by reading the information on her ID and reflecting on the history of Scion. As one does. We learn about Sheol I through Paige wandering around having conversations with various helpful but one-dimensional characters. It's very hard to care about any of this. I feel this switch in setting would have had more impact had the narrative spent more time in Scion London at first. The rules of the world must be firmly established before breaking them can have any meaning, and its hard to care about characters you know very little about.  Therefore, when Paige talks about missing her gang, it's meaningless because the reader has no idea who those people are or the nature of her relationships, beyond that it's a dangerous gang that works her to exhaustion.

          The story does gain more momentum around the halfway point. We learn more about Paige's Raphaim keeper, Warden, and are finally introduced to the often-referenced gang members (via dream flashback). Finally actual characters with personalties! The action picks up as well as the Emim appear and Paige begins to take action. In the beginning I would pick this book up, read a few pages, then put it down, but the last 200 pages had me riveted. That's why despite the rocky first half I will definitely  be reading the sequel and do give a tentative recommendation. The world is interesting, and now that most of the heavy exposition is out of the way, I'm curious how Shannon will continue. This is a debut novel, much of the information  may be relevant in one of the projected sequels, and there were enough interesting character beats and originality that I'd like to read more about them. 

Recommended for: People who enjoy reading about alternate worlds with a complicated mythology, a little romance, action, and lots of exposition.

3 out of 5 bone-grubbers

2 comments:

Stephanie K said...

I tried hard, but I could not get through this for lots of the reasons you listed. "Clumsy" is a great word for the endless descriptions. I read the first half, skimmed from 50% - 75%, and then I finally gave up.

Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

Jaime said...

Yeah, I pressed on because I read a review that said the action picked up later on. Before that it actually put me in a reading funk because I just couldn't get into it. I ended up being interested in the secondary characters of the gang and it saved the book. But DNF-ing is totally warranted.
The main problem is one of editing. It's one thing for the author to have all the info about sectors, gang organization, and types of powers, but keep it in a notebook unless it's vital to the story, IMHO.

Thanks for commenting, I follow you on Bloglovin' *starstruck* ;)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: The Bone Season

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.

Summary from Goodreads

ARC received at BEA 2013

Review: The Bone Season has all the elements of an exciting novel set in an interesting new world, but  is dragged down under the weight of its own exposition. 

          Scion London is the result of history diverging from our own in the time of Edward VII with people suddenly developing psychic powers. The government, in an effort to control this phenomena, created Scion citadels. There purpose is to control the population and weed out anyone with clairvoyant abilities: the people known as "voyants". There are many different kinds of  voyants: soothsayers, palmists, oracles, tasseographers, julkies, with different abilities. A chart is provided at the start of the novel. In order to stay safe from the authorities many voyants join a crime syndicate with various gangs controlled by "mime-lords" who control various sectors of the city and engage in "mime-crime". One day she is caught and sent to the prison city Sheol I.  Paige must now fight a war against otherworldly creatures (Emim)at the behest of a different race of otherworldly creatures (Rephaim). If all of this sounds very complicated, that's because it is. 

           I'm normally the last person to complain about a complicated narrative, it's just that information in this one is provided so clumsily, and it seems to go on forever, largely at the expense of character. I understand the urge to share every detail about a world you've created, but some things seemed irrelevant or overly detailed. The description of the various sectors for example.  As for clumsy exposition: Paige entertains herself on a train ride by reading the information on her ID and reflecting on the history of Scion. As one does. We learn about Sheol I through Paige wandering around having conversations with various helpful but one-dimensional characters. It's very hard to care about any of this. I feel this switch in setting would have had more impact had the narrative spent more time in Scion London at first. The rules of the world must be firmly established before breaking them can have any meaning, and its hard to care about characters you know very little about.  Therefore, when Paige talks about missing her gang, it's meaningless because the reader has no idea who those people are or the nature of her relationships, beyond that it's a dangerous gang that works her to exhaustion.

          The story does gain more momentum around the halfway point. We learn more about Paige's Raphaim keeper, Warden, and are finally introduced to the often-referenced gang members (via dream flashback). Finally actual characters with personalties! The action picks up as well as the Emim appear and Paige begins to take action. In the beginning I would pick this book up, read a few pages, then put it down, but the last 200 pages had me riveted. That's why despite the rocky first half I will definitely  be reading the sequel and do give a tentative recommendation. The world is interesting, and now that most of the heavy exposition is out of the way, I'm curious how Shannon will continue. This is a debut novel, much of the information  may be relevant in one of the projected sequels, and there were enough interesting character beats and originality that I'd like to read more about them. 

Recommended for: People who enjoy reading about alternate worlds with a complicated mythology, a little romance, action, and lots of exposition.

3 out of 5 bone-grubbers

2 comments:

  1. I tried hard, but I could not get through this for lots of the reasons you listed. "Clumsy" is a great word for the endless descriptions. I read the first half, skimmed from 50% - 75%, and then I finally gave up.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I pressed on because I read a review that said the action picked up later on. Before that it actually put me in a reading funk because I just couldn't get into it. I ended up being interested in the secondary characters of the gang and it saved the book. But DNF-ing is totally warranted.
    The main problem is one of editing. It's one thing for the author to have all the info about sectors, gang organization, and types of powers, but keep it in a notebook unless it's vital to the story, IMHO.

    Thanks for commenting, I follow you on Bloglovin' *starstruck* ;)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you, comments are appreciated :)