Shadow and Bone is another one of those fantasies that sucks you into a magical world you don't want to get out of. The story centers around Alina, a young orphan / mapmaker, discovers she has a great magical power that she never knew she had, and is suddenly whisked into the world of the Grisha. Grisha are the most advanced magical beings in the nation, lead by the Darkling. He takes a keen interest in Alina and her power. He is the tall, dark, handsome and seductive character every fantasy story has - but his is a different story. He's controlling, not brooding, and he's sketchy. You know something's up with him, but you want them together - but this novel doesn't focus on that.
Instead, the story focuses on Alina and her growing her power, discovering how far it can go and how much she can make. And as she grows with her power, she grows within herself and is taken not only on a journey of the Grisha life, but on a journey of self-discovery and self-worth. All though her best friend, Mal, is still alive through out the novel, he is rarely seen, therefore leaving Alina to understand her own self-worth. This is the most intriguing thing about this book. Most YA novels, especially in the epic fantasy series, have some male character that the heroine is confused about, obsessed with, or in love with, and the plot is focused around that. But not Shadow and Bone - and that's what I loved about it.
There were a few things that I was disappointed on, but they are minor. The first was the fact that Alexei - her mapmaker friend - was hardly ever mentioned again after the first five chapters. He seemed to be non-existent in Alina's mind, and made room only for Mal and the Darkling. Considering Alexei was her mapmaker partner, I would think that he would constantly be in her thoughts as well. The second thing was the ending. I won't spoil the ending, obviously. I know there is a sequel coming in June, and I will read it, but the end of Shadow and Bone was almost too sugary for me. The person I wanted to die didn't die. (Meaning, I kind of wanted him to die to make the plot for the second book even more awesome) I thought he was, but he survived through the whole thing. Which seemed a bit unbelievable in his given state at the time. Anyway. I loved it, through and through. In fact, I read through most of the book while waiting for Iron Man 3 to start at midnight.