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Albuquerque bones up on a teen novel with two diametrically opposite views

Book Cover

The Bone Season


The Albuquerque public library has ordered six copies of “The Bone Season” and notes there were 66 readers on a recent waiting list. The Albuquerque website displays the following review from the Library Journal:

“In the not-too-distant future, London is controlled by a totalitarian force called Scion, whose sole purpose is to discover and destroy the ‘unnatural curse’ of clairvoyance. When Paige Mahoney, a dream walker (a rare type of clairvoyant), is captured by Scion agents, she believes her life is about to end in torture and death. But when she awakens in Sheol I, a prison camp dedicated to teaching voyants to fight an enemy called the Emim, Paige discovers that the world she thought she knew is not at all what it seems.

“To escape and survive, Paige, who has been renamed XX-59-40, will find herself making unlikely allies as the line between enemies and friends has become blurred almost beyond recognition. With this debut, young British author Shannon (she is getting her degree in literature at Oxford University) has created a world with a very 1984 feel to it. Throw in some otherworldly creatures, some who are supposed protectors and others who just want to eat people, and you have the makings of an epic sf/fantasy series.

“However, while there is plenty of action and tension, this foundation-building book ends on a nice round note; sadly, readers will not be breathless with anticipation about what happens next. Verdict: The first in a series of seven titles, this book sets the stage for a journey of discovery for Paige who may very well discover that she has to save the world whether she wants to or not. It will be interesting to see what Shannon does in her next installment. [The book has been sold in 18 countries, and actor Andy Serkis's film company has optioned it as well.—Ed.] Copyright © Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.”

Then, of course, there’s the contrarian view published recently by Examiner in the national edition of Contemporary Literature:

Beware ‘The Bone Season’ by Samantha Shannon

(Current fiction & past quality fiction)

Much of the hoopla about “The Bone Season” (Bloomsbury) by Samantha Shannon deals with an extensive promotional campaign and very little with the novel, a teenage story in a future world.

Reading excerpts made available from the Kindle edition convinced Examiner that reporting about the hype was justified, for the story doesn’t merit your attention.

As The New York Times put it, “Had it been allowed to slip quietly into bookstores, “The Bone Season” might have been noticed for the large scale and elaborate detail of its still-unformed fantasy world. Ms. Shannon could easily write six more books filling in gaps left by this one. It would be a shame if the “Today” anointment celebrates this young writer’s gift for trivia-quiz lingo at the expense of her as-yet-unseen larger vision.”

The reference to “Today” alludes to the book club that the “Today” television program launched with (you guessed it) Ms Shannon’s first novel. She’s promising a bunch more.

From an Amazon reviewer: “It felt almost like a text book where I was reading about all these technical terms without ever forming any emotional connection to the characters and their world.”

Examiner doesn’t often dump on novelists and would certainly love to have all that hype about one of Examiner’s novels. Indeed, Ms. Shannon undoubtedly deserves better treatment all around. But this is a teen novel and that’s the best one can say about it.

Examiner strives to call attention to novels that can be judged as Contemporary Literature. This ain't it, not any more than the last novel Examiner took exception to, “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, a selection by Oprah's Book Club. It may be recalled that Time magazine went nuts over that one. Anyway, continuing to swim upstream against the current, “Bones” is not recommended.

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