World of Shell and Bone by Adriana Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I came across this book in my Amazon recommendations & the title & cover caught my eye. I downloaded the sample & as soon as I'd finished reading it, I bought the book. I had to know where this was going to go. I am happy to say that I enjoyed where it did go & I've found out that there's going to be another book to follow, so I'm looking forward to that.
There were some things that didn't seem very fleshed out & the progression of time was hard to get a handle on (save one instance where the fact that two weeks have passed is mentioned at the outset of a chapter). There certainly was no insta-love between Vika & Shale & it is shown that they do have feelings that are deeper than the original matching of them but to have refer to him as the man she loves was a bit jarring. Up to that point, she had never made any sense of her feelings & expressed mostly wonder at them. She lives in a society in which there are no "boyfriends" & no opportunity to have crushes on the opposite sex, so I didn't know how she made that leap. It's never even established that she's had a girlfriend so that she has some knowledge of experience with romantic love. Still, that .
Vika also seemed to pick up a few "skills" out of nowhere (driving the bus) & was strangely lacking in others. She's given a pistol but has no knowledge or experience using them, yet it is not a concern in any way to her or thought that she should maybe ask someone how to use it (how she gets it back after Drew takes it from her is also a mystery). We're told often that the matriarchal society in which she lives is one that sees men as inferior & inherently dangerous physically but it does not appear that any of the women have taken the time to learn basic skills of self-defense, just in case. I had to wonder how that planned infiltration & takeover of China is really going to go down successfully. Part of me loved that after repeated situations that turned more complex & not quite what was told to her, Vika had an openness & willingness to trust that remained. It seemed nice even if it were also foolhardy. Just as a facet of self-preservation, I wanted her to be more critical & circumspect & not keep thinking that things would just work out. I wanted her to be a planner & take on more of her own agency to reach her goal instead of relying on what others told her. But, this is just the first book & she grew quite a bit, so I temper my expectations.
Even so, there were many moments that I found fascinating, endearing & memorable. Vika's interactions with her mother, Mica & Ceres are all wonderful & the characters shine. I almost felt some sympathy for Vika's mother when she's rendered as the poster child of futility in their society. I never stopped wanting to know more about Mica because his appearances were always reminders that his life has been as much a mystery to Vika as it is to me. I was just glad Ceres turned up alive & Vika found her and their interactions were truly special. The scene where Vika braids Ceres's hair & the other girls with flowers really struck me as beautiful. I really wanted some vicious retribution to come Moon's way early on (she was a great character) & it only increased when she reappeared at the end of the story
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