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How Shadow and Bone Subverts the Curse of Terrible Book-to-Screen Adaptations

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

We all know the infamous book-to-screen adaptations. Did any Percy Jackson fan really like the movie The Lightning Thief? Or did City of Bones fans like the Shadowhunters series? Oftentimes screen adaptations of books are written by screenwriters without the original authors, sacrificing the themes and feel of the original story. There will also be decisions that feel out of place for the stories, like aging up original characters to make the adaptations more “gritty”. 

When it was announced that Leigh Bardugo’s series Shadow and Bone would be turned into a live-action Netflix series, fans were skeptical (including me). Shadow and Bone is a young adult fantasy series and the first book in the Grishaverse, the universe within Shadow and Bone that includes the series Six of Crows and King of Scars. A detailed and in-depth universe like the Grishaverse seemed like it would be difficult to adapt into a show, so I didn’t have high hopes for it. But I was wrong to not give it a chance.

The series was developed by Eric Heisserer, but Leigh Bardugo is an executive producer on the show, likely there to guide the showrunner to stay close to the original text. The casting is very true to the text as well which I appreciate. There have been many shows that whitewash characters, but Shadow and Bone stays true to the characters. 

I loved the show. I watched it so quickly and will likely watch it again. Shadow and Bone is probably the best book-to-screen adaption I have ever watched. As I watched this show I was amazed because it was like the show grabbed what I imagined while reading the book and put it on screen. It was better than I could have imagined. I fell in love with all of the actors’ interpretations of the characters and wanted the second season immediately after I finished it. It seemed like Netflix actually put funding into this show (which at times it can feel like they don’t with other shows) and pushed marketing for it. The show was a success and it was quickly renewed for a second season. 

woman wearing black shirt eating popcorn
Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels
While you can watch Shadow and Bone without reading the series prior, I would still recommend reading the books. The feeling of watching the books come to life is euphoric. You’ll also understand the lore and terminology a lot more quickly if you’ve read the books. I also enjoyed seeing the changes they made to the show as many of them fit the story better.

I highly recommend Shadow and Bone. You can watch all episodes on Netflix now!

Sydney Erickson is an English and Public Relations Major. She is an enrolled Cowlitz Indian. She loves books, movies, spirituality, and Marvel. Sydney hopes to become an author and actress one day. This is her second year writing for Her Campus.