Published by Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: August 20th 2013
Genres: Debut, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
The last time I read a YA book, I was a young adult. OK, not true, I read Hunger Games, but who didn’t? I saw The Bone Season at Book Expo America and thought I’d give it a try, partly because it sounded interesting and partly because it was the first in a seven part series which means, if I like it, I’m assured of future reading (running out of books is a very real book-aholic fear).
It is 2059 and London is being run by Scion, a security agency that’s been in power for almost 200 years in response to an epidemic initiated by King Edward VII’s dabbling in the occult. Supposedly, it released a massive population of “unnaturals”—humans with clairvoyant skills. Thanks to Scion they have been reduced to a small number separated from the rest of the population, largely living lives of crime to survive. Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, a rare breed of clairvoyant who enters other people’s minds, making her a valuable asset to a criminal overlord. Debut author Samantha Shannon goes all-in by parsing the world of unnaturals into enough sub-categories that it requires a two page chart at the beginning of the book. A useful chart because of the almost 60 types, she will refer to many of them at some point in the book.
Paige is captured and sent to prison in the city that was once Oxford. This prison world is run by aliens known as Rephaim and is unknown to the residents of London. Each prisoner is put in the charge of a Reph and is trained to become a (clair)voyant hunter but Paige’s skills are so unique that she is valued for reasons far beyond hunting her fellow voyants. The Bone Season follows her efforts to adapt, as well as escape this world in order to warn her friends of Scion’s ultimate purpose—the complete eradication of all voyants.
For die hard fantasy readers here’s what The Bone Season has: fearsome flesh-eating monsters, a young woman gifted with talents that go beyond her own understanding, an evil alien race striving for world domination, big brother government, and a world that feels recognizable and utterly foreign at the same time. It may be that for some hardcore YA science fiction readers/critics this is not enough or the novel is missing some component absolutely necessary for reader satisfaction but Shannon has been burdened by the massive media buildup for her books (being called the next J.K. Rowling) which makes me want to cut her some slack. The novel is already optioned for film and the series sold for six figures (that part makes me feel a little less worried about her emotional state). It’s a lot for a twenty-one-year-old debut author. Is The Bone Season the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter? I can’t answer that but am sending my copy of the book to my teen niece (blessed/burdened with the family reading gene!) and will let you know her eminently more qualified opinion. For me, it is exciting, intriguing, and held my interest. More importantly, it left me wanting to know what happens next.