Bone Song by John Meaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If I could say one thing about Bone Song, it is certainly unique. I like that Mr. Meaney wrote a book that was entirely out of his imagination. I did see shades of "Blade Runner" and noir/cyperpunk aspects in his story, but he didn't play it safe or familiar in any other way.
The idea of bones having power to run cities, and for necromancers to kill gifted people so they could harness the power of their bones, was something I have not encountered in my reading. It was pretty gruesome, at times, although this book is far from gory.
The worldbuilding in this story was very solid. I do admit, I was totally scratching my head at first. Mr. Meaney builds his world from the ground up, even using a very different calender and number of days system that I have ever encountered. I am pretty sure that Quintember 37, 6066 is a date I will never see in real life. And last I checked, there are not twenty-five hours in a day.
I loved the infusion of mythical beings and various types of ethereal creatures into this novel. In the cities of Bone Song, wraiths of various types are enslaved and used to power the city in various ways. For example, the elevator in the police building is run by a wraith named Gertie. There are also stone-beings, and deathwolves who guard the premises of the police station and rich people's homes. Mages and witches are employed on the police staff, on airplanes, and in hospitals. And zombies are fairly common, although not accepted by everyone.
The world of crime-solving had a uniqueness as well. Instead of forensic medical examiners, there are Bone Listeners who read the bones to find out how people died. It was a bit creepy how that was done. Well, very creepy.
This story managed to mix the paranormal with science in an intriguing way. I won't deny that I wasn't lost, at times. I was quite lost. But, I was also intrigued to keep reading. That's not to say this book wasn't a bit dry at times. It was. But not so dry that I wanted to give up on it. I truly had to see where the story was going, so I persevered through the drier moments.
I really liked the main character, Donal. He was a tough guy, but also seemed to want to do the right thing, and genuinely cared about people. His situation was pretty harrowing at times, and I felt like I had to hold my breath, at the various twists and turns in this story. When the book felt dry, his character kept me reading. That's a good thing, because that's why I read books, for the characters that stand out and earn my loyalty.
I liked the secondary characters as well. I did feel like Laura, the commander of the unit that Donal joins, and his love interest, could have been more deeply characterized. I didn't feel like I knew a lot about her, which seemed important, considering her relationship with Donal, and her very interesting nature. I had a love/hate relationship with the point of view switches. I felt they were too abrupt, and it took a while to figure out where the story was going when the POV changed. If that had been more smooth, I think I would have been fine with seeing the other characters' viewpoints. I feel like there is more to learn about Viktor, Xilia, Alexa, Harald, and Shushana.
I have to be honest and say I didn't like the ending. It was way too abrupt and didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. I have this feeling that it's a cliffhanger sort of ending, so I won't throw the book against the wall. I'd like to see where John Meaney goes with this story, so I'm looking forward to reading the next book.
Bone Song won't appeal to all readers, but I am glad I read it. It was a unique world with some elements that really stood out to me. Overall, I think Mr. Meaney wrote quite a fascinating book, and I would like to see more of his world where the bones have their own songs to sing.
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