Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
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Summary: "Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart."
Review: So I am sitting in my room. I just finished another great book, and now think to myself “What should I read next”. I look to my bookshelf, and see Shadow and Bone, and I pick it up. I had bought it about 7 months earlier because my favorite author, Cinda Williams Chima, had reviewed and strongly recommended it. I started reading, and found the first chapter to be just terrible. It was a standard intro to the characters and the setting, but it wasn't very invigorating, and I almost gave up on it. THANK GOD I DIDN’T!!! After that first chapter, the story developed so fluently, with the action rising and the plot thickening, it is the pure form of perfection. But it really isn't the plot or the story that I so admire about this book, it is the narrator. Bardugo has created the perfect narrator in Alina, and it is because in the midst of reading, I can almost imagine sitting down at a table and actually talking to her. She becomes very real in a beautiful way. I have never seen this level of connection between the narrator and the reader, and it is truly an inspiration as writer. And Bardugo is able to create this character while the ongoing conflict between the forces of light and dark go head-to-head in this epic fight of love, willpower, and courage. If there is a book that you should read in your life, it is this one. It will be forever regarded by me as one of the best.