Welcome to another TV review post, featuring Shadow and Bone, which I enjoyed despite not reading the book it’s based on. This post was originally going to include The Irregulars too, but I’ve been spending more time at the beach and less time watching TV lately!
Based on the book of the same name by Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone follows Alina and Mal, two friends who grew up in an orphanage, as they discover she has Grisha powers, the powers of the chosen one, and their journey to try and destroy the ‘fold’ of darkness which divides their country.
YA/NA Dark Fantasy.
Some violence and blood, and suggestive scenes, but nothing more than kissing is shown. Dark scenes with monsters jumping out, life threatening situations. Mention of assault. Guns.
The story follows two sets of characters: Alina and Mal as they are separated and reunited, and the heist crew who break into the Grisha stronghold where Alina is to capture her.
I found Alina and Mal’s parts dull, and mostly cliché. Reluctant chosen one. Orphans. Girl obsessed with the wrong man. Sudden development of powers just in time to save Mal and her friends. Plenty of tired tropes, without any new twists, and I got bored of their scenes quickly.
I wouldn’t have watched past episode one if it weren’t for Kaz, Inej and Jesper; characters from Six of Crows, a book by the same author set in the same world as Shadow and Bone. The Shadow and Bone TV show adds Kaz and his diverse crew into the Grishaverse timeline earlier than they appear in Six of Crows, and they steal the show with their clever planning and close friendships.
Alina was very dependant on her connection to Mal, had little agency, and was led along by the plot for 95% of the show. I know lots of people love Alina, but like Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent, I found Shadow and Bone’s lead character bland and uninteresting.
She represents one of the things I hate about ‘strong’ female characters: Writers focus so much on making them ‘strong’ that the rest of their character development is lacklustre and the character ends up strong to the point I can’t relate to them. Mal was also more interesting in the flashbacks of the orphanage than as an adult pining for Alina.
The Six of Crows crew were far more interesting, and the female characters, Nina and Inej, were truly amazing. Alongside Kaz and Jesper, they’re the reason I continued watching. I hope Alina becomes a character I can root for and relate to a bit more in later seasons.
Kaz, Inez or Jesper. I can’t choose between them. Jesper is a cocky bisexual sharpshooter, Inej is a skilled stealthy acrobat with strong religious morals and deadly aim, and Kaz Brekker is suave, cold, and deadly, despite chronic pain from an old leg injury. He also cares a lot for Inej, despite their differences, and I ship them hard, despite rarely seeing chemistry between straight characters!
When Inez protects Kaz from the fire mage, at great cost to herself. These two are adorable and it’s clear they love each other even though it’s not explicitly said. I’m adoring reading more of their interactions in the Six of Crows books.
Alina and pretty much everything she does. An orphan chosen one with a special power, with no qualities that make her stand out other than that, doesn’t appeal to me at all.
I struggled to rate this show, as although I didn’t like the main character, I loved watching Kaz, Inej, and Jesper, and the series inspired me to read their books, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. My hope is Alina becomes more relatable in later seasons and I can rate the show higher.
Watch it if you like:
Magic, fantasy, medieval fantasy kingdoms, diverse grey-area characters with shady pasts, clever heists. Six of Crows: The casting feels spot on in Shadow and Bone!
How did I discover it?
Randomly scrolling Netflix. I was on the fence about watching it, as from the trailers I didn’t think I’d like the main character, but a friend enjoyed it, and I think I remember my sister recommending the books, so I gave the first episode a chance.
Other Random Watches:
Zero Chill, about a wannabe figure skater and her hockey playing brother. It was all right, but the acting felt a bit forced in places and as the story continued it started to drag and become predictable. I like watching anything ice skating though because it’s so graceful and impressive!
Spinning Out, about an ice skater struggling to get her career back on track after a nasty fall. It was good, but difficult to watch at times given the graphic scenes of self harm, predatory male characters, and tricky family relationships depicted between the main character and her mother, who both suffer from bi-polar. It covered a lot of difficult topics well, and it’s a shame the show didn’t get renewed.
Thanks for Reading!
Have you seen Shadow and Bone? Read the book? Read Six of Crows? What did you watch this month? Chat in the Comments!