Having really enjoyed the first two books in The Bone Season series, I was pretty excited to read The Song Rising. I decided to reread the first two books to relight my love for these books, and to explore the world as a fantasy fan, unlike when I first read The Bone Season when I was 13. Needless to say, I had certain expectations from this book after finding myself completely absorbed in the world Samantha Shannon has created. Unfortunately I didn’t find this book as enjoyable, and was felt quite disappointed with its outcome.
Part of the reason for my not liking it might be because of it being a middle book in a seven book series, and falling for middle book syndrome. Because the series is going to be so long, there’s the constant knowledge that the main character is highly unlikely to die, so I really didn’t feel concerned for Paige’s safety, as heartless as that might sound. I found the book really fell for a lot of YA clichés , such as an 18/19 year old girl saving the world and/or becoming the leader of the revolution and taking on everything that isn’t her responsibility. I felt so annoyed to see this in what I felt was a unique series, as there are so many other options to explore in YA fantasy books. In the same way, I’m pretty bored of the romances in YA books, because I don’t find them realistic or relatable. This isn’t always the case with these kinds of books, as even if I don’t relate, I’ll still be wanting the two to be together, but to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t care whether Paige and Warden were together or not. I was just annoyed with their never ending “I want us to be together, but we can’t be together” circle; either be together, or don’t be together.
As I said, I really did enjoy the first two books, partly because the fantasy felt strong enough to be escapist and interesting, but I found the mix of the UK as it exists now with Samantha Shannon’s fantasy to not really do it for me. There are some books I’ve read that do a similar mix, but raise enough questions for it to be thought provoking, but I didn’t feel this in The Song Rising, and really began to disengage with it after a while.
One thing I would have loved to see explored more, which could come later on in the books, is a stronger push on female empowerment, as whilst Paige is female and in a role of leadership, she really didn’t inspire me in this book. There’s a line towards the end of the books that says “The aether was calling me into his arms”, which made my heart sink a little. Not because of it being emotional or captivating, but because of the “he”. I felt let down that even the aether was made to be male, because it just felt like I was stepping into another world in which the most powerful source/being is male. I’m not saying it should have been female, as perhaps Samantha’s aim was to show how frustrating patriarchal societies are, but I would have preferred the aether to have been genderless rather than male, which to me felt truer to the story.
Overall, I am disappointed with the third instalment of The Bone Season series, but I do hold hope for the rest of the series. The book ends with the characters leaving the UK, so hopefully we’ll get to see more of the world of The Bone Season in a new light. Here’s hoping…