During the start of quarantine, it was a widespread trend for various accounts to all recommend one hobby: book reading. Thus the era of ‘Booktok’ came to be, which in turn made specific books extremely popular. Most of the books that went viral were of the genre young adult, or YA. I was one of those people that was extremely intrigued by the recommendations, and with quarantine freeing up all my time, I decided to read a majority of the ones that went mainstream. With this new mini-series, I will be talking about the various books that went viral, and recommending whether or not they’re actually worth your time without giving away too many spoilers. For this article, we will be discussing Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, along with Six of Crows which is part of the same world, but with different characters, and is set a couple of years after Shadow and Bone. The series is also known as the Grishaverse.
The Shadow and Bone plot centers around our main protagonist Alina Starkov, a soldier in the kingdom of Ravka who discovers she possesses magical abilities while crossing ‘the fold’ (which is a strip of darkness that divides the country of Ravka). Within the fold are dangerous, flesh-eating Volcra. When a being named ‘The Darkling,’ who is also the general, discovers the power, he believes she can save the country and destroy the fold. There are three books to the series, Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. Six of Crows, which happens two years after Ruin and Rising, is a duology that sets six talented individuals in the city of Ketterdam for an incredibly difficult heist job. Six of Crows also has different points of view in each chapter for all the main characters. Now, is it worth the read?
In the Shadow and Bone series, I often felt that our main character, Alina, falls flat, and just like Bella Swan, there are multiple men who fall in love with her (for no apparent reason). There is also a multitude of clichés, which can be fun, but the outcome of multiple events are predictable. Don’t even get me started on Mal, who is Alina’s long-term best friend, as well as my least favorite character who is controlling and judgmental towards basically everyone. The world-building is based on real countries, Ravka for example is loosely based on 19th-century Russia. The premise is interesting because the powers are split into different groups and everyone wears different colors based on their power or status (think Harry Potter houses and robes). Shadow and Bone is something I would have loved in high school, but maturing means realizing that Alina is dull and a fill-in character. All the side characters are better than the main characters and being stuck in Alina’s mind throughout all three novels made me want to close the book in frustration.
Now the duology, Six of Crows, is something I do recommend without hesitation. All the characters have depth, there is more diversity and LGBTQ+ representation, and the heist reminds me of Ocean’s Twelve. Our leader in the heist, Kaz Brekker, is a morally grey character with flaws and like the other five characters, an interesting and complex backstory. Six of Crows has a completely different vibe than Shadow and Bone, and the good thing is you do not have to read Shadow and Bone to read this book. If you would like to get all the innuendos that are added, be my guest and read the trilogy, but it isn’t necessary if you would like to skip over it and dive headfirst into the sequel series.
Leigh Bardugo came out with another duology connected to the Grishaverse, King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. Stay tuned because I will definitely be reading and rating those.
Is this book series worth it?
Shadow and Bone: Meh, not worth it. The show makes it seem more interesting.
Six of Crows: YES YES YES! Read this, it has heart and an interesting plot with amazing characters.