Ivory and Bone
Buy or Borrow: Either
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Harper 360!
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
Okay guys, this was a mixed bag for me and it's taken me a while to finally decide how to rate it and what to write! I liked the book, don't get me wrong, I really liked it, but there where a couple of things about it that didn't click for me! I'll kick this off with the good, then head on over to the ugly, because there is no outright bad here!
First off, I know a lot of people didn't like the book or where let down by it because they thought it was a fantasy book, and to be fair, I've seen the word fantasy all over this book, in connection to it. It's not. It's historical, I would say! I knew that going in so I was expecting it, I'm just not sure why it's being called a fantasy unless it's because there's not all that much solid fact and the author had to fill in the gaps or something? I don't know, my knowledge of the prehistoric times isn't so hot, which is shocking for me, I know!
ANYWAY. The good.....I loved the setting. I really did. I have never, ever read a YA book set in prehistoric times. I don't even think I've read a fantasy book set in prehistoric times, so I loved the setting and the author made it as vivid as possible, although my brain kept implanting scenes from Brother Bear in to it, (I used to love that movie okay, it made me cry!) and I can imagine the research that's gone in to it to give us such a setting, it's incredibly unique. The setting really pulls you in as the characters go about doing prehistoric-y things. My brain failed me though at one point and I have to admit...I was one of those people. You know, the one who's like "man this all could have been avoided if they had mobile phones", I know. I wanted to smack myself.
It's atmospheric, like really atmospheric. The setting sucks you in and the atmosphere does the rest. The characters live in clans, and our main character lives in a clan that hasn't seen any other clans for like two years because they had a falling out with the nearest clan and the others all move around a lot. Therefore, there's a feeling of isolation and solitude as you read. You can imagine the sweeping vistas that the character is seeing or moving through, and you can feel the desolation in the scenery. You feel probably how the characters feel, but then they're probably used to it, so maybe it was just me who felt such a sense of solitude!
Ivory and Bone feels authentic and you have to admire the characters for how they manage to keep on surviving, facing their day to day struggles. I imagine the pure amount of research that went in to this goes some way to the authenticity, as does the names that seem to fit with the book and the setting. I'm going to hold my hands up and say I don't know what kind of name is a 'prehistoric' name, but I feel like the author did a good job with it!
I actually really loved the way the story was told, I'm not going to lie. I started to read and the prologue kinda bit was a regular narrative, then as you hit chapter one it switches to second person. You're still with Kol as the main character and narrator but he's referring to Mya as 'you' all the time and so on, he's speaking to her basically. I rarely read books with that kind of narrative, and honestly, I thought it was going to bug me. But it didn't, and as the book went on I got more and more used to it so it was a bit jarring for me when it switched back and we caught up!
Kol made for an interesting narrator, because I can probably count on my hand the number of times I've read a YA book with a male narrator. I really liked Kol, sure he needed a smack once or twice, and he wasn't all that bright when it came to figuring out Mya, but I liked the fact that he felt for the mammoths they have to kill, he knew it was survival but he still felt bad, which I thought was an interesting trait for a character of the time. He's intelligent, and serious and courageous and I enjoyed reading his voice. I also liked Mya, she too was intelligent, a really good hunter and kind of badass, it has to be said. She's fiesty but also has a vulnerability to her that you start to see.
Along with Brother Bear, I got some serious Pride and Prejudice vibes as I was reading, from the whole hate/love thing they had going on, and the family drama and marriage matches and everything. So it was kind of like P&P but with mammoths and spears and death. Cool right? And this brings me to the next thing I liked, the strong family theme running throughout the book! You get to see lots of Kols family, his brothers and his parents and the rest of his clan! His family had a constant presence and you got to know them a little as you read, and I thought that was nice to see for a change. You even get to see a fairy bit of Mya's family too, which made another interesting change.
Okay, on to the stuff I wasn't all that wild about! First up is the romance. Okay. This is a solid mix for me, because I liked the two of them together, I thought they where a good match for each other considering their personalities. It was certainly an interesting relationship to watch develop what with everything going on, and what had gone on influencing it, it took most of the book to come to fruition too so it's snail burn. At the same time, Kols main focus in life, as well as his brothers, was finding a girl to marry because there aren't any girls in their clan. But then by some lucky happenstance, two stroll on in to camp that very day. So while I liked the romance, I wasn't really down with Kols burning need to find a girl and that being a huge focus for him. I get it...survival of the human race and all that but still. I hate to say it but as a lot of this book revolved around the romance and the marriage matches, if you took it all out this book wouldn't work.
But...prehistoric....mammoths...clan fighting...spears....right? Yes. There is all of those things, but by the time the clan rivalry comes in to play, I think it was a little bit too late and squeezed in at the end. Things burned. Peace maker dude took a spear to the shoulder but despite the fact it's prehistoric times it was all good, he was fine. Barely a scratch. But he was like 'I will not hurt them, they are our clan' and then genuinely seemed surprised to find a spear lodged in him. Like how did you not see that coming? The word murder has been thrown around ALOT. Only two people died. Now while I liked that there was a softer side to the time, as it where, and it wasn't all savagery all the time...I was expecting some. When I learned about the clan rivalry...I was expecting a huge battle, loads of blood and people dying left right and centre. Two die. Accidentally. 'Whoops I slipped'. Boom. Conflict resolved. Happy endings all round. I couldn't get invested in this little clan war when the stakes weren't high enough. SO yeah. No romance...no plot. I was never at any point, on edge and scared for my faves, because next to no-one died, which I thought was odd for the time period, but then what do I know?
While there is action in the book, there's a lot of day to day stuff that goes on. It was kind of a double edged sword for me because while I found it oddly fascinating to read about how they lived, what they ate, how they did things and so on, it was also kind of boring. I'm a history nerd, so I found that sort of thing fascinating, but not everyone will, and it slows the pace right down and makes it drag. I was expecting some more action in this book, and while it was there, it wasn't nearly enough to keep this from being boring a good chunk of the time. The detail was good...but also some of it was really unnecessary and just clogged up the narrative and made it so there was a lot of time when not much was going on.
I actually managed to read this quite quickly, and I did enjoy it, but coming off the back of reading a lot of books that are fast paced, and have a good combination of action/detail/romance, once I'd put the book down and really thought about it, I had to admit that I did find my interest wandering a time or two, and find myself a little bit bored as not much was happening but eating. Which made me hungry actually, not that I want to crack in to some mammoth meat anytime soon but still! So this is a bit of mixed bag, if you like action, action, action...you probably won't make it through this! I do think it's worth a read though, for the setting, and the fascinating information you can pick up as you read! I'd love to have had an authors note telling us just how much of what was written was fact, and what was embellished a little!