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Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shadow and Bone is the first of a planned triology about a brave and strong young woman, Alina Starkov, who's discovered to have special elemental powers. It's set in a fantasy world with Russian-style names, titles, clothing, and locations. The characters -- especially Alina -- face violence, death, and destruction at every turn in a struggle between good and evil. The main characters fight and kill dragon-like monsters, as well as assassins and thieves. The villian called the Darkling uses his magic as a weapon and kills people. One man is cut in half. There's some crude language ("bitch," "ass"); romance involves brief kisses and one heavy make-out scene. Some of the teen characters drink alcohol and get drunk. Animals are killed for food and for sacrifice.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Alina Starkov is happy living as a mapmaker, as long as she has her best friend, Mal, by her side. They've been together through thick and thin since their days at an orphanage. Then one fateful day changes everything for Alina. The Grisha, a group similiar to witches and wizards who rely on the elements to get their power, discover that Alina is one of the most powerful of their kind. She can summon light and take away the darkness. The leader of the Grisha, the Darkling -- a sexy, mysterious man who wields his magic like a deadly weapon -- wants to train and mold Alina so she can learn to harness her power and destroy the Shadow Fold, a place of nightmares where frightening creatures roam. But the Darkling's ulterior motive is to make Alina his own. Alina must learn to trust her instincts and to stay true to herself or pay the price -- with her life.
Is it any good?
Leigh Bardugo is a master at creating an original and breathtaking world. It's not all rainbows and sunshine in Ravka. It's bleak and frightening. SHADOW AND BONE is fast-paced, with shocking twists and turns and a powerful ending that leaves readers anxious for more.
Bardugo's strength lies in her solid characterization, with both major and minor characters questioning the world, their roles in society, and how they fit in. The Darkling is a fascinating character -- a guy you love to hate, but also a guy easy to desire. Some readers may find the book's Russian influences and language a little hard to understand at the beginning, but the story quickly moves forward as various secrets and lies are revealed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Alina doesn't want to be a Grisha and is pressured into developing her powers. What's the reasoning? What are the possible consequences?
How do you think Shadow and Bone compares with other romantic fantasy books? What do you think of the romantic triangle of Alina, Mal, and the Darkling?
What are your thoughts on the book's violence? Does it enhance the story, or is it too much?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.