The Booze: Seriously, I don’t even know where to start. Besides by chugging half a bottle of shitty gin straight, of course. Whose fucking brilliant idea was it to even publish this tripe, let alone allow the hype to get that carried away? I don’t even blame the author or the fucking editor at that point. Marketing team, WTF mates. W.T.F. I’ve seen some over-hyped YA in my time, but this takes the cake. Or rather, the cow-pie (cause it’s shit! get it?! okay, too much gin too soon, sorry guys).
But let’s get down to the book itself. Because it’s not the book’s fault that some drooling genius with no better ideas decided to just start name-dropping instead of bothering to market the actual book (the Bone Season’s NYT review neatly details the problem with all this “next Hunger Games Twilight Harry Potter Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings” talk surrounding the book: namely, that nobody even mentions the book or the writing, they just think the author seems kinda sweet and super young and also she got paid an awful lot of money for this book, so it must be good right!?).
So anyway. I will stop feeding the media fervor and cut to the chase. Because The Bone Season‘s real problem is not that it’s over-hyped, or that Bloomsbury shelled out a criminal amount of money for it. The real problem, is that this book is complete shit.
A (not so) brief summary: In the opening of The Bone Season, our intrepid heroine, Super-Special Snowflake and otherwise Obviously Srsly Privileged White Girl who got Bored With Being Rich and Shit, Paige Mahoney, is working for a clairvoyant street gang. Clairvoyancy is illegal, so these badass thug types have banded together to avoid the police in Scion London, aka SciLo, because everything and everyone in this book has at least 3 names. We are treated to 50-some pages of incomprehensible slang speak about said gang and its working life, but don’t bother flipping back to the 15-page glossary, because by the time you think you’re starting to maybe understand wtf is going on, it’s made obsolete anyway. Paige is captured by some of the aforementioned cops, drugged, and dragged off to what used to be Oxford. Now it’s Sheol I, a prison city for the alien race known as the Rephaim, who are secretly controlling the Scion government from behind the scenes, while enslaving clairvoyants like Paige to help them fight off flesh-eating monsters that threaten to destroy the Earth.
Confused? Yeah, me too, and I read the whole damn thing. But it sounds like an okay sort of synopsis. I mean, aliens are cool, right? Kanye West would have sex with them, at least. And gangs are fun, and even if we’ve seen the whole speshul snowflake/Mary Sue character all over the damn place in YA, they keep popping up (presumably because people like to read over and over about the exact same tough streetsmart gal with no weak side except for the first hot male with smoldering eyes who comes along). So this book could be marginally enjoyable, right?
Well, first there’s the writing. I tried to skim through the book to find some quotable moments, but my eyes kept glazing over in protest at the utter dullness of the words they were being exposed to. Normally even mediocre or downright terrible books have some quotable moments (even if you’re just quoting them for the sheer over-the-top hilarity factor). None of that here. Every sentence passes in the kind of monotony that will make you wonder why the fuck you picked up this 450+ page book in the first place, even if massive fantasy tomes are normally your thing. The only moments that vaguely stood out, stood out in bad ways (mostly because Shannon has an intense need to tell her readers over again what they’ve only just seen play out). For example, when one of the marginally less boring characters, a rebellious young man, is speaking to our main character (her name is 40 now, by the way, or technically XX-59-40, though we never learn why the 59 was necessary, since only 40 people showed up during the XX Bone Season, and also how the fuck do you pronounce XX anyway? It’s a Roman numeral, so do you say “20”? If so, why not just put 20, since the other numbers are written out, and they go around saying them out loud all the time? Or do they pronounce it “Ex Ex” in the story to differentiate from the other numbers, so that everyone in the story understands that if they have to sign a piece of paper as XX-59-40, it should be spelt XX? … I digress, on to the quote):
“It’ll happen one day, 40. We’ll be the ones experimenting on these bastards, not the other way around.”
The Rephs (aka the aforementioned bastards) had been foolish to make this man a red-jacket. It was clear that he despised them.
NO SHIT, SHERLOCK. YOU DON’T SAY. Because normally when I talk about experimenting on bastards, what I really mean is that I totes love them. THANKS FOR CLEARING UP THAT CONFUSION.
“But there are plenty of badly-written books that could have potential in other areas!” say some fucking nubs who want to convince me that Twilight has any sort of merit. But even accepting that hypothesis for a moment, this book still fails to accomplish… anything.
The world-building makes no sense. The plot is so full of holes you could plant a full-grown Redwood tree in there and still have room for a vegetable garden on the side. Every character besides the main character is not only a flat cardboard cutout, but they’re the SAME flat cardboard cutout. There are the evil ones. They’re evil. And there are the nice ones. They’re nice, and usually seem to exist solely to die and/or be threatened with death to spur on the narrator.
Then we come to the narrator herself. You don’t even need to read the book. As much as I hate to link anyone to the vortex known as TV Tropes, this really is all you need to read to understand Paige. I will now wait 10 minutes for you to return from the vortex.
Back? Okay, good.
There are other points about the book that annoyed me, but if I harp on much longer (the aliens’ eyes change color and they are freakishly cold and only sleep during the day for no apparent reason and they may or may not drink the human characters’ blood/life force, I’M JUST SAYING, if you want to write a book about vampires, fucking man up and write a vampire book), I’ve a feeling I’ll be guilty of the same endless rambling this first-time author was for some reason allowed to indulge in (EDITORS, HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU).
Final verdict on this one: Just don’t.
But if you must…
The Prescription: 1 ounce of Jägermeister + 1 can of Red Bull. That’s right. In true Jersey Shore (or Geordie Shore? Shannon’s a Brit, after all) style, Jagerbomb this shit. You’ll need the caffeine to slog through the neverending continuity problems, and the booze to… Well, I don’t need to explain what you need that for, do I?