Shadow and Bone, a review by Jana

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Shadow and Bone

By Leigh Bardugo

Published by Henry Holt and Company 


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All right, bookworms. I’m assuming if you clicked on this, you probably haven’t read Shadow and Bone – or perhaps anything by Leigh Bardugo. Maybe you’ve seen the trailer for the show on Netflix, or maybe you’ve even watched it and are now trying to decide if you want to dedicate yourself to the series. So, let me help you!

Drop a comment below – what’s your favorite fantasy series? If you’ve read Shadow and Bone – what did you think? 

Synopsis – from Goodreads

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Netflix tagline

Dark forces conspire against orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world.

My review

I, perhaps like you, am an adult reader who is on the fence about if I still want to read YA books. No shame if you are an adult who loves YA – I still read The Hunger Games regularly. I love the pacing of YA books, and I also love the hopefulness of YA books. 

Leigh Bardugo writes amazing YA fantasy. Her worldbuilding is clear without having to rely on info dumps and she creates a cast of characters that you would absolutely want to go to war to protect.  

That being said – Shadow and Bone is clearly a debut novel. The pacing is slower, there are fewer fleshed out characters, and the world feels smaller. So, what’s a reader to do? Well, Netflix decided to fix this problem by adding the cast of Six of Crows to Shadow and Bone. The show has multiple plot lines to follow and keeps you on your toes. To be honest with you, I watched the show first, and then decided that I absolutely needed to know what was going to happen next, and picked up the books. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I read Shadow and Bone first. I am here to tell you that you don’t need to. Yes, that’s right, I’m telling you the show is better and to just watch it! Who even am I? 

I think you are in for a real treat if you want to binge the Netflix show, then dig in to Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. Where Shadow and Bone took me about a week and a half to finish, I read the next two books over the course of 5 days. The last time I read a series that quickly was The Hunger Games

Q: I don’t really like fantasy, do you think I’ll like this?

A: Probably not, I’m sorry to say. This series is very focused on a magic system with a heroic Chosen One coming to save the day. However, you might really like Six of Crows – and some people just start with that duology anyway. 

Q: How’s the romance?

A: It’s a YA book, friends, so if your question is more about the spiciness – this is not spicy. If romance to you is characters having feelings towards each other – this will definitely be your jam. 

Happy reading, bookworms! I hope you enjoy this series as much as I did!

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