Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo :)
A Brief Summary:
Shadow and Bone follows the story of Alina Starkov, a remarkable young girl, who holds a power not even she realizes she has. All her life she's never fit in. Not in the orphanage where she grew up alongside her best friend, Mal, or in the First Army where she serves as a mapmaker.In her world people of elite status with unique magical abilities, called Grisha, serve as nothing more than fanciful servants to the king of Ravka. Or more so, to the Darkling, the most feared and respected Grisha in the country.
One day, while protecting Mal, it is revealed that she too is Grisha with a very rare and sought after power: the ability to summon sunlight. She is then swept away from all she has ever known, and is brought to court, where it is believed that she is the sole person who can destroy the Fold, a huge rift of pure darkness, where terrible monsters will devour whoever dares to venture into it.
So yeah, our girl's got the future of the world on her shoulder, quite litteraly.. So this is her story.
Shadow and Bone was nothing like I expected it to be. And yet, at the same time, it was exactly like I expected it to be. Or at least hoped it would be. It absolutely blew me away. The creativity and originality that went into this novel was just… breathtaking!!
The world-building was out-of-this-world intense. It’s very much a learn-as-you-go-along book; it takes a while for you to learn everything, but the depths that the world-building goes to are unbelievable. From the magic, to the different classes of Grisha, all the different towns, the sceneries, the descriptive passages—even the clothing and food was described with the outmost detail, yet it never felt overdone. I never felt like I was reading too much description.
The characters introduced in this book were all so complex. I found a soul mate in Alina Starkov- she was a strong, intelligent protagonist, who grew a lot in character throughout the book, which I appreciated very much. Though the author didn't force Alina's character, or any of the female characters in fact, out of their element by portraying them as Women Who Have Balls. No. This book is focused on female empowerment, women who are reliable and capable individuals with brains and determination.
The men weren’t bad either. In fact the Darkling had me completely fooled. He had so many different sides to him, which really just left me confused with no idea what his true intentions were, though I never expected him to be the villain. My opinions of the Darkling are quite similar to Alina’s opinions of him. She knows he’s bad news, but is intrigued at the same time. Even when she knows he’s evil, there’s a part of her that still loves him. Because of that confusing love-hate feeling I have toward the Darkling, he is one of my favorite villains of all time.
Overall this book left me wonderstruck, and I can’t wait for the next one, Siege and Storm!