I loved this book. I'd been wanting to read it ever since I first saw it. I'm not much of a cover person, but I totally fell for this one. I love that it's different from the typical YA-put-a-teenage-girl-on-the-cover cover. Combine that with the summary and I was sold. When a copy finally came in at the library for me, I was so excited.Alina and Mal are orphans and best friends who grew up in the nation of Ravka. When they are old enough, they join the army and are sent out to the Shadow Fold. The Shadow Fold is a big tear in the middle of the country, is always dark, and full of dangerous creatures who attack any human who tries to cross. With the help of some Grisha and their magical powers, Alina and Mal's regiment hope to pass unharmed. But about halfway across, they are attacked. Mal is seriously injured before Alina saves his life, and everyone else who is left on the boats. She doesn't know what she's done or how she's done it, but she's taken to see the Darkling. The Darkling is the leader of the Grisha and has the strongest magical powers in the nation. Growing up, they were taught to fear him. But as the Darkling tries to teach Alina about her powers and what they could do for her country, she starts to wonder if maybe everything she's heard about him is untrue. As the book progresses, we learn more about Alina, her powers, the Darkling, and the country Alina hopes to save.One of my absolute favorite things about the book was the world that Bardugo created for Alina. Though Shadow and Bone brought to life an entirely new world for us to learn full new words and creatures, I was never confused about any of it, even in the beginning. Bardugo teaches us about the world easily, through Alina's flashbacks, descriptive passages, and the actions of the characters, not by shoving a bunch of definitions down our throats. And even though the world is torn apart and in the middle of war, there are still beautiful parts to it, and I loved that.I also loved Alina, our main character and narrator. She was never over angsty or whiny and never came off as stupid. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the main character doesn't see things that seem so obvious to the rest of us. Bardugo did a great job of revealing bits and pieces of the story at just the right times, so we were learning along with Alina, not waiting for her to catch up or being left in the dark. My favorite moment with Alina happens when she learns how to control her power. I love that moment of realization and growth for her.Mal was also a favorite character of mine. I love the friendship he and Alina have in the beginning and I love the relationship they develop along the way. I enjoyed reading a book where the two characters have known each other for most of their lives, grown up together, have a real history. None of the rest of it felt fake or forced or unnatural when you see them grow up together. Alina knows early on that she has feelings for him. She just needs to figure out how to deal with them. And though we don't see Mal for a while in the middle of the book, he's still a strong character and one I wanted to see more of. Most of my favorite quotes from this book came from him.One of the most important characters of the book is the Darkling. He's mysterious, powerful, old, and handsome. I don't want to give anything away here, but wow. He sure was full of surprises. I can't wait to see what else he'll bring to the story!Overall, I was so happy I finally got the chance to read Shadow and Bone. If you are a fan of fantasy and have been looking for your next book, make it this one! If you aren't a fan of fantasy but read YA books, I would still suggest you give it a try. It might surprise you! It's not just magic and fantasy, Shadow and Bone is full of great characters, mystery, danger, and even some romance. I gave Shadow and Bone 4.5 stars.