One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!
I first found out about “The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon in a recommended list of books which proclaimed it to be the “next Harry Potter.” A tall order, but if any book is supposedly similar to my favorite book series I’m sold! After reading it I don’t get the resemblance to ‘Harry Potter’ but I do think the book has some similarities with “The Hunger Games,” (another good series).
“The Bone Season” is set in London in the year 2059, 200 years after a totalitarian government has taken over. The government Scion exists to root out clairvoyants from the streets of London and surrounding areas (like Ireland) that they have taken over. “Voyants” are outlawed: imprisoned, executed, or bound to serve for thirty years on a police force, tracking their own kind before being euthanized. The book’s main character, Paige Mahoney, works as a “mollisher,” she is a protegee of Jaxon, the leader (‘mime lord’) of the Seven Seals criminal gang. “I was a hacker of sorts,” she says of herself. “Not a mind reader, exactly; more a mind radar …” Paige is arrested for a murder she accidentally committed with her mind (she is a dreamwalker, the highest order of the clairvoyants), and is taken to a penal colony. It is called Sheol 1 and is located at Oxford University, (where Shannon graduated from in 2013). The government is secretly run by a supernatural race called the Rephaim who have their base at Sheol 1. The Rephs- as Paige calls them, take the most promising human voyant slaves to Sheol 1 in once-a-decade harvests they call “bone seasons.” Paige happens to be picked up the night of the harvest.
At Sheol 1, Paige is claimed for training by a Reph she calls Warden. He is to prepare her to pass tests in order to become a red-jacket, part of a battalion risking death and mutilation to defend Oxford – and consequently London- against the terrifying Emim — “mindless, bestial creatures with a taste for human flesh” — who live outside Oxford’s walls. Once she moves into Warden’s quarters at Magdalen, she discovers he has a clandestine life, and a mysterious kind streak. Paige is quickly recognized for her abilities as a dreamwalker, but also for her physical abilites. She is scrappy, a fighter, and much more resilient than her fellow prisoners. Nashira, the Blood-sovereign of the Rephaim has a special interest in Paige- she wants to kill her and claim her powers for her own.
At first jumping into this book is terribly confusing- the world with all of its details that Shannon has created is so different it mentally takes some catching up to. But if you go with it and keep digging you get hooked. The book is terrific—intelligent, inventive, dark, and engrossing enough to keep me up late to finish. Shannon has a remarkable talent for world-building and character relationships. But her most sublime creation is the complex, ever evolving, scrappy and touching Paige Mahoney. Shannon illuminates Paige’s growing awareness of the new world she inhabits and the moral choices she faces with great empathy. She emphasizes Paige’s endearing unwillingness to submit, which draws her into danger time and again. Paige struggles to understand her gift which seems most powerful when she is defending herself to the death. She dreams and plans of escape. She fights bravely to survive. She protects her friends, the weak and even her trainer Warden. Paige is a credible hero. I want her to win. I want to read the next book in the seven book series. And with that, Shannon has me hooked.
Click here to see my goals for 2015