Samantha Shannon has been dubbed the “new J.K. Rowling” in literary circles worldwide since her first published novel hit the scene in August 2013. In 2012, she signed a 6 figure deal with Bloomsbury Publishing, giving the company publishing rights to the first three books in a seven book series. Let me repeat myself: this Londoner, born in 1991, signed a 6 figure deal with her first book. (Well, this isn’t her first book, but no one jumped at her first attempt. Maybe AURORA will be published someday, but more likely than not, writing that first book was the learning experience necessary to make this book the gem it is.) The price tag plus the book’s subject matter, make the leap to Rowling relatively expected.
But Shannon is not the new Rowling. Paige Mahoney is not the new Harry Potter. The Sheol I is not Hogwarts. And Rephs are not deatheaters. If one wants to make a comparison, Suzanne Collins and THE HUNGER GAMES are more fitting. Paige is what Katniss would be if I actually liked Katniss. My thoughts on THE HUNGER GAMES are not a secret: I enjoyed the first book, tolerated the second, and hated the third. Before I can 100% say that THE BONE SEASON > THE HUNGER GAMES, it would be fair to read the rest of the series, which isn’t out yet. (Hurry up, Samantha! Type! Type! Type!) But the fact that I am hungering for more from Shannon leads me to believe my initial assessment is correct: Shannon is a better writer than Collins. Her Oxford connection makes me want to anoint her leader of the New Inklings (and grab a pint with her at the Bird and the Babe). But enough about the author – let’s talk the book.
Set in 2059, THE BONE SEASON was an unexpected, fast-paced, sci-fi, helluva ride. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in two sittings. (Partly why I am so enamored – it’s been a bit since a book hasn’t let me go.) Paige, the Pale Dreamer, is fascinatingly constructed. She’s caught in that spot of a child forced to grow up too quickly, but childishness comes out in the most natural of ways. She’s not forced into being a character that does not read believable. Quite the contrary, Paige’s realness is what makes this book work so well. It doesn’t seem fantastical and forced – it’s like a dream that you wake from and can’t tell if the dream was real or not because it felt real. At one point, the Warden requests that Paige literally put down her walls so that he can enter her dreamscape and see the memories she keeps locked away. The one she opts to show him is an extremely heartbreaking memory that is just so damn relatable.
I know my book reviews tend to be spoilers, but I cannot spoil this book for anyone. Read it. Now. I cannot justify ruining one of the better books I’ve read in a long time for the sake of a review. It would appear Bloomsbury landed a great literary whale when they bagged Shannon. I cannot wait for her next book. But until such a time, I encourage you to make a purchase (and you know me – I like softbacks and used books because hardbacks tend to be SO expensive… this is worth the hardback price…) and read this before the movie. This is a book a movie can ruin.