I am forever late to the party when it comes to the next.big.thing. in YA/YA-adjacent literature series.
Harry Potter? Half-Blood Prince was already in paperback. The Hunger Games? Mockingjay had come out the same month. Divergent? Four months before the release of Allegiant. Twilight (yes, Twilight)? 10 months to go until Breaking Dawn.
So yes, I am perpetually late to the pop culture lit party.
But I think, for once, there is a chance I’ve caught a big series after Book One. *chorus of literary angels*
This Book One is Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season (published August 2013). It’s the first of what will eventually be a 7-book series, and it is not a short intro piece, a la Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Bone Season clocks in at 452 pages. Here’s the back cover blurb:
The year is 2059. Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant–and under Scion law, she commits treason simply by breathing.
Elsewhere, however, there is a seat of power even greater than Scion. And they have a different design for Paige and her uncommon abilities…
So yes, it’s another dystopian series. Shocking, I know. But TBS also benefits from some Harry Potter-esque fantasy elements, specifically the fact that it focuses on gifts of clairvoyance. Clairvoyance, for the purposes of TBS, are those who can access the Æther (aka the spirit realm). There are seven different main types of “voyants,” each with various sub-types: soothsayers, mediums, sensors, augurs, guardians, furies, and jumpers. Voyants also have a colored aura, the color corresponding to which main type of voyant they fall under. Amaurotics (a.k.a. non-voyants) can’t see auras or connect with the æther.
In this dystopia, a group called Scion began taking over various major world cities after the reign of Queen Victoria, starting with London. Under Scion rule, voyants are considered unsafe and traitorous, so they are forced to work underground in black market situations in order to survive. Shannon said she was inspired by the idea of what might happen in a second Salem Witch Trials-type situation.
Paige Mahoney, the main character of TBS, works for a syndicate known as the Seven Seals, headquartered near London’s Covent Gardens. Paige is 19, strong-willed, and pretty much everything we’ve come to expect from dystopian heroines. Supernatural Katniss. This isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t reinventing the wheel.
There are minimal amounts of romance, thankfully, but I imagine more is headed our way in the next 6 books. Again, not a bad thing, just not what I always care to have my books focus on.
I want to tell you so much more about the novel and its world, but to do so would give away plot points, and I’m trying to be as anti-spoiler as possible here (I wouldn’t even write this blog post until my roommate had finished reading the book).
What you do need to know is this: the world of TBS is not laid out for you. Period. You’re stuck trying to piece together the rules and makings of the Scion world as the novel progresses, and I’ll admit that I was pretty frustrated by that at first. Once you get it, you’re great, but the first few chapters are tough when you don’t know the world you’re stepping into.
There is, thankfully, a handy-dandy glossary at the back that defines the slang and names used. The vocabulary was actually one of the more fascinating things for me, since it’s halfway stuck in the Edwardin era (a.k.a. when Scion took over) and also mafia-ish in a way. I spent a lot of the first part of the book flipping to the glossary to make sure I understood what was going on, so I definitely recommend buying the hard copy as opposed to the e-book.
Ugh, I so want to discuss the rest of the book, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone. Literary frustration!
And yes, this series is expected to blow up. Shannon’s second entry in the series, The Mime Order, is scheduled for a January 27, 2015 release, and the pockets of the Internet who heralded The Bone Season have had their pre-orders in for months now (I’ll probably put mine in by the end of the month). Andy Serkis’ movie studio, Imaginarium Studios, has already purchased the film rights. Samantha Shannon has even been called “the next J.K. Rowling.”
I’m not going to say it’s perfect or my favorite, but the next.big.thing. is here, my friends, and it’s The Bone Season. And for once, I am finally ahead of the curve.