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Book Series Review: Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Cover image courtesy of POPSUGAR.

Like many people, I watched the first season of Shadow and Bone on Netflix. My family and I enjoyed it because of its originality. Whereas we’ve all heard of the fae, dragons, and other mythical creatures, we had never heard of the Grisha before, or a Shadow Fold. I watched the first season of the Netflix series before I read the books. I don’t think it matters if someone reads the books first or watches the show first. Either way, readers and viewers will have an opinion, and not all opinions will align.

When we’re introduced to the Grishaverse in the first book, the author, Leigh Bardugo, explains the unique powers of each type of Grisha, and she does so with finesse—without info dumping and overcomplicated explanations. There are some world-specific words that I still don’t know how to pronounce, like nichevo'ya (the nothings), but these words do not take away from the story as a whole. According to Grishaverse Wiki, “Grisha are humans who practice the Small Science. They are traditionally divided into three orders, Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki, with each order being further divided into specialized types,” such as a Fabrikator like David and a Tailor like Genya.

I know that movie and television series adaptations will always be different from the books they’re based upon; and, at first, I was taken aback by the variances. When I began reading the first book, the first difference I noticed is that the book Shadow and Bone is told in first-person point of view. Instead of knowing Alina’s every thought in the Netflix series the way we do in the book, we get multiple perspectives. Since the Grishaverse is Leigh Bardugo’s world, I have to assume that she had an integral role in making this point-of-view switch possible—authors flesh out their characters in the beginning phases of the writing process, giving their characters back stories and intricate personality traits.

I also noticed that there are three characters in the Netflix series that aren’t mentioned in the Shadow and Bone book series. I found out later that they are main characters from Leigh Bardugo’s book Six of Crows, another extension of the Grishaverse. I have a couple of theories on why the author thought it would be a good idea to include them in the Shadow and Bone Netflix series—a tight budget perhaps, a marketing tactic to sell more copies of her book Six of Crows, or maybe it wasn’t her idea at all. Maybe we will never know. Whatever the case may be, the inclusion of these characters does not take away from the storyline.

Alina Starkov is the main character who becomes the Sun Summoner, and she is called upon to destroy “the Shadow Fold, also known as ‘the Unsea’ or simply the Fold . . . a swath of darkness located in the Tula Valley that split the eastern and western sides of Ravka in half.” Before she becomes the Sun Summoner, Alina is a cartographer and a simple girl who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, except of course with her best friend Mal. Though, Mal is an incessant cad, and Alina is continually rolling her eyes at his candid display of testosterone-induced flirting with other girls. As the story moves forward at an even pace, other characters are brought into the mix, such as Genya, David, Nadia, Marie, Zoya, the Darkling, and other very interesting characters who get introduced in the second book.

A man with many faces becomes my favorite character pretty much from the start. That is all I will say about him, though, because this review does not include any spoilers.

All in all, the Shadow and Bone book series far outweighs the Netflix series. Since the books are told from Alina’s perspective, we get a better understanding of her plight throughout the three books in the series—all 1,205 pages, not including the bonus material each book has to offer. I’m usually a slow reader, but I finished the entire series in record time—about two months, so record time for me, given reading stories is also my full-time occupation.

I didn’t get tripped up on any errors or choppy sentences, and that’s saying a lot since I usually find errors in every book I read for leisure.

The Shadow and Bone book series is an easy read and it’s quite addicting. The end of each book leaves you wanting—needing—more, and if you just move along to the next book right away, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to purchase the trilogy; you won’t want to wait for the next book to arrive.

  • Did you read the book series?

  • Did you watch the first season of Shadow and Bone on Netflix?

  • Did you read the series and watch the show like I did?

  • What are your thoughts on the differences between the two?

  • Do you like the books or the show best?

Let me know in the comments below.

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