With all my coursework over and an abundance of free time now on my hands, what was it time for me to do? Find a new Netflix show to binge watch, of course! I chose the new Shadow and Bone series at the enthusiastic recommendation of one of my friends, a show that I also knew was based on a series of books beloved by book communities all across the internet.
The plot of the show is nothing less than what you’d expect of a YA fantasy: a young girl in a war-torn world also full of magic (called Grisha magic) finds out that she is the chosen one (in this case, she’s what the series calls a Sun Summoner), the only person who can destroy the dangerous no-man’s land (called the Fold) that divides her country in two. The show focuses around three major plotlines:
- Alina Starkov finds out that she is the mythical Sun Summoner and is taken away from her best friend Mal Oretsev by the obligatory suspicious but attractive character The Darkling in order to learn how to use her Grisha powers.
- Kaz Brekker, a young criminal prodigy, enlists his two friends Inej Ghafa and Jesper Fahey to help him kidnap Alina for money, though they must first make it through the dangerous Fold to reach her.
- Another Grisha, Nina Zenik, is kidnapped by Grisha-hunters but, when the ship she is being held captive on is shipwrecked, she must rely on the help of one of the young Grisha-hunting men, Matthias Helvar, to get the both of them home.
I felt that the third storyline was treated more as a side plot than as one of the major plots, receiving much less depth and paced progression than the first two, consequently feeling out of place in the show until the end of the final episode. It felt like one minute the two characters were entirely at odds with each other and then, after only a few conversations, they were planning to run away together.
However, after reading up about the books afterwards, I found that this is likely because the show, though named Shadow and Bone after the book of the same title, actually involves two different series from the same author (Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows) which are set in the same fictional universe. Ultimately, I think the crossing over of the two book series for the adaptation worked well except for the fact that the third plotline felt like it had been squeezed in at the last minute.
What I enjoyed the most was the world-building, including settings and costumes, as most of the fictional world is heavily inspired by Tsarist Russia. Russia is a setting not commonly drawn upon for YA, and it consequently meant the world I was watching felt new and fresh, even if the plot didn’t.
Although the show didn’t completely blow my mind, with the plot carrying out exactly as I’d expected (although it was still exciting to watch the plot twist fall into place halfway through), I would still be excited to watch a second season. The show tied its storylines together well in the final few minutes as all of the main characters converged in one scene, and finally ended on a cliff-hanger, as the best finales do, hinting towards a continuation.