Title: Shadow Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #4; Soulfinders #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: DNF
Once, only her own life hung in the balance…
When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.
Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek. Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.
-- As seen on Goodreads
DNF @ page 168
Note: So this might get a little ranty. If you don’t do ranty, I’m sorry, but don’t read further.
What happened? Just… what the heck happened?? I can’t believe this book comes from the same universe as my beloved Poison Study – it’s completely mind-boggling to me. Never in a million years did I expect to dislike Shadow Study, and it’s even worse that I couldn’t even finish reading the book. I’m completely gutted! Poison Study is one of the main reasons why I began reading YA Fantasy in the first place, and it still remains one of my favourite books to this day. Yes, a good few years have gone by since I read it, and naturally I’ve grown as a reader in that time. What really upsets me is that it seems I’ve grown away from the characters and world that I once loved so much – and it breaks my heart!
My main reasons for quitting Shadow Study was because of the weird writing style, and how incredibly BORING the story was. I don’t know what the author was going for, but it felt like a weird combination of a prequel and a sequel to Poison Study. Honestly, if Valek got a standalone book entirely about his past I would have been rushing out to get my hands on it in a heartbeat, but the way it was presented through flashbacks within his narrative here really irritated me. Yes, I love Valek, and yes, I’d love to learn about his past… but not right now. All I wanted was Valek and Yelena, together – that’s why I picked up this book! In the 168 pages I read, what do we get? A chapter. Yes. One measly little chapter of them together! Okay, they have separate lives in different countries so they’ll be apart quite a bit. Fine. Brilliant that they don’t rely on each other, yada yada yada. Fabulous. I get it. But, I’m sorry, from my perspective ONE CHAPTER ISN’T ENOUGH TO HOLD MY ATTENTION!
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the incredibly obvious reason why Yelena lost her magic. Seriously? I
correctly figured it out by the end of the first chapter, ffs! That’s just… ridiculous. Yelena was one of my favourite characters once upon a time, but unfortunately, not anymore. She’s needlessly reckless, far too impulsive, she doesn’t learn from her mistakes, lapses into bouts of stupidity and I haven’t a clue what I liked about her in the first place. Also, why does Janco need his own POV? I’ve always loved Janco (and Ari), so in theory I should have loved getting some insight into his character, but the problem I have is that it didn’t add anything: it only delayed and stretched out an already plot-thin story.
This is the fourth book I’ve read by Maria V. Snyder, and in the three previous books I read I don’t recall having a huge issue with the writing style. Shadow Study, on the other hand, felt completely different to my memories of the previous Study books. Yelana is, what, 27 now? Valek is around 41-ish, right? So, WHY is this series still classed as young adult? This isn’t just about sexy-times being skipped over: the book didn’t even seem like it was written as a YA novel, if anything, it felt almost intentionally dumbed down. Honestly, at times the writing style felt more middle grade and that only confuses me even more. I didn’t realise how much I enjoy a bit of descriptiveness and world-building until it was gone! Also, any sort of background detail was very reliant on reading her previous works, namely the Study and Glass trilogies. The wonderfully vivid world-building and storytelling I remember was replaced with stark, bare bones and no frills language, and I didn’t like it at all. I bought the first book in the Glass trilogy recently and I was intending to read it at some stage, but after reading Shadow Study, all interest I had in that trilogy has now evaporated.
*Sigh* I guess this is the moment I officially DNF Shadow Study. Right now, I regret reading this book. Maybe one day I’ll give it another chance, but I don’t really know if I care enough anymore. It breaks my heart to say one last goodbye to Valek and Yelena, but unfortunately the magic that made me fall in love with them and the world they lived in has completely disappeared.