To be honest, if you haven’t heard of the fantasy series by Samantha Shannon taking the world by storm, you’ve been living under a rock. The three book series, comprising The Bone Season, The Mime Order, and now The Song Rising, has taken the world by storm and captured the hearts of millions. The series has been a bestseller, and fans have eagerly awaited the latest installment of the planned seven book series, The Song Rising.
For those who haven’t read The Bone Season yet (and if you haven’t: drop everything and do it), the story follows a dystopian London, part Orwell’s 1984 and part Hunger Games. Magical abilities are part and parcel of this world, but clairvoyants are hunted down and persecuted by the totalitarian regime Scion, which aims to eradicate all unnaturals from the streets of London. The only sanctuary for clairvoyants is the criminal underworld, comprising gangs and their turf, which follow a strange kind of morality and set of laws. Our heroine is Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant with a rare ability – Dreamwalking. But everything goes wrong when she is captured by Scion – not executed, as one would expect, but instead taken somewhere strange and unexpected . . .
Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that The Bone Season sets into motion events that can’t be stopped. A whole host of characters – Jaxon, Paige’s eccentric boss; Nick, her best friend; and Warden, a strange being we barely scrape the surface of – circle around Paige as she rises through the ranks and becomes involved not just in street crime, but a revolution. In this way, The Bone Season reflects a trend in YA novels today – increasingly so, teenage novels reflect dissatisfaction and anxiety in the face of a conservative landscape. Following into The Mime Order, Paige and her friends (and enemies) are embroiled in an intense revolution for the sake of what’s right and just.
The Song Rising continues that theme, as the title would suggest. Paige, newly instated into a position of power among the rabble of criminals that is The Mime Order, seeks to mobilise the troops, and fight back. After what happened to her in The Bone Season, it’s hardly surprising that she wishes to change things for the better – even when it seems impossible. Throw in a healthy dose of magic, politics, and of course, romance, and The Song Rising is a gripping continuation of Paige’s story.
While a book for young adults, The Song Rising does not talk down to its readers. As mentioned, it deals with themes of police brutality, fascism, and xenophobia. Following in the trend of novels such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Tomorrow, When The War Began, The Song Rising weaves fantasy and reality together thoughtfully and carefully. That is not to say that the book ever feels heavy handed; Shannon uses humour and action to break up some of the more intense political themes that underpin the story.
For lovers of fantasy, there’s the intricate magic system that follows rules of logic, and constantly comes with new surprises and abilities. There’s also the threat of another world encroaching on our own, with strange creatures, sometimes benevolent and sometimes not, infiltrating the human world. There’s action and fighting, sure to enthral anyone who loves a fast-paced crime story (and being from the criminal underworld, there is lots of crime). And the characters are intricate and dimensional, with their own (sometimes opposing) agendas – and a healthy dose of romance. If you’re anything like me, following Paige’s love story will keep you turning the pages as much as the political intrigue. It’s never heavy handed or cliche; and you’re left rooting for the love story as much as you are the return of justice.
Excitingly, The Bone Season has been picked up The Imaginarium Studios (of Andy Serkis) and 20th Century Fox. So not only do we have four more books to eagerly await, we’ll also get to see Paige’s story come to life on the screen.
The Song Rising is suitable for ages sixteen and up, and we mean up. Adults of all ages will find something to love in this book, and it’s the perfect series to start talking to your teens about politics and morality. Do yourself a favour. Pick up The Bone Season and start reading. If you’ve read the first two, well, we don’t need to tell you to read The Song Rising – you’re definitely already drawn in.