Review: Shadow & Bone Netflix Adaptation

Am I ready for this? NOT EVEN A LITTLE! I’ve talked about my history with Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse so many times before that I’m just going to trust y’all know and are ready for me to absolutely lose my mind. I’m watching this over the course of four two-hour slots since I’m trying to watch it with a friend in California, and organizing the three-hour time difference was the actual worst until we finally settled on these times. Thus, I’ll be taking a few notes while I’m watching so I can summarize in between the sessions, so let’s get into it!

Also, I feel like this should be a given, but just in case, this will be full of spoilers, not just for the show, but for the entire trilogy, so proceed with caution.

Shadow and Bone Netflix Review - A Likeable And Appealing Fantasy Yarn  Regardless Of The Cliches

LOL LIES, so Sara and I realized that we were both free on Friday, which meant that we ended up bingeing the first four episodes in a row, and we would have kept going if it wasn’t midnight for me, but alas, ya girl has got to sleep. So I’m writing this Saturday morning to work through my thoughts on the first four episodes, and then I’ll wrap up on Sunday morning after we’ve finished the second four.

I feel like I’ve just got to be honest with myself and start with Kaz because I literally screamed into my pillow so many times. I WAS NOT READY FOR HIM????? I thought I was, I really did, but then his cane smacked down on the card table, and he was scowling, and then he spoke!!!!!! And I was done for.

Inspiration is the secret : Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa in the Shadow and  Bone... in 2021 | Six of crows, Crow, Shadow

Honestly, though, the real MVP was Jesper because holy shit what a perfect portrayal. The way Kit was just constantly moving, and the way he talked, and how he was with his guns? UGH! It was so good. SO GOOD. I am an emotional wreck from seeing the Dregs finally on screen, and I do not know what to do with myself. And speaking of the Dregs on screen! I really liked how they wove them into the plot. It made a lot of sense, and though there’s no way any of it will come to fruition–at least, I hope not, because that wouldn’t make sense–it’s cool to see Kaz, Inej, and Jesper in Ravka. They’ve always felt so separate from the rest of the universe, and while there’s so much that ties them to S&B, Ketterdam is just worlds away, and it was really cool to hear the Dregs talking about Alina Starkov. I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

And though I can’t possibly be done talking about the perfection that is Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, now I’m thinking about Jessie as Alina, and I just want to get on the nearest sand skiff and race to pledge my loyalty to her. She’s just created an outstanding portrayal of Alina, and I was honestly in near tears every episode so far. I love her so much, and wait, hold on, I just remembered Leigh’s cameo, and now I’m actually crying. I had to just show my mom her cameo because I knew how much she would appreciate it, being a fellow mother of a writer, and yup, I’m legit crying as I’m writing this because WOW I’M JUST SO PROUD AND HAPPY!

Honest to Satan sobbed when she got to hug Alina, wow. I can’t even imagine that. To be able to hug the character that helped you get through so much? Just wow. And Leigh’s smile! Okay, I have to swing back to Alina because I’m a mess now. One of my favorite Alina moments was definitely the scene where she first arrives at her room in the Little Palace, and she has a small breakdown, just cries into her hands and then runs to find something sharp. They definitely didn’t need to show us that very relatable and human and heartbreaking moment, but they did, and it made me love her all over again. Truly, every moment with her has been outstanding, and I’m so excited to see her kick all the asses in the last half of the season.

And while we’re here, I see what you’re trying to do, Netflix, making the Darkling all sexy because he’s Ben Barnes, I SEE YOU BUT I KNOW BETTER. There was one moment, right after Alina leaves the war room when the Darkling is definitely thinking about kissing her, and he’s right behind her in the doorway, and then he kind of glides backward, and y’all that was creepy, thanks for reminding us because I was falling for it again. He’s so damn manipulative, and I forget every time! Ben is fantastic, though, and he’s doing such an amazing job as the Darkling. I am so ready to see him go full evil and just destroy everything.

(You know what I’m really ready for, and will almost definitely scream into more pillows? NIKOLAIIIIIIIIIII, please let this get renewed so we can hear his snark!)

OH AND MAL! If any of you punks come out of this still not liking Mal, I can’t be friends with you. He was already perfect, and Archie has just taken his character way farther than I ever could have hoped for, and he is the best. Fight me, you are wrong if you think otherwise. The way they’ve already started to create the subplot of his role as one of the amplifiers is so good, and how they’ve already tied him so intrinsically to Alina? It’s breaking my heart, thank you so much.

Shadow and Bone

There are so many other amazing things that I could talk about–like the fact that I shriek every time we see the sign over the Crow Club (literally a Karou repeat where I’m just screaming CROW CLUB every damn time) or Jesper and the goat (HUG THE GOAT! SHUT THE HELL UP!) or actually getting to see Nina’s origins with Matthias (Danielle is perfect, and I will protect her with my life)–but I’m getting myself so amped up right now that I need to stop before I end up rewatching the first four episodes all day before Sara & I finish the season tonight. I’m definitely going to be rewatching this soon so I can take my time with it–and so I can rewind all the Kaz scenes because not being able to do that so that Sara & I can stay in sync is killing me slowly–but, for now, I’ll be back in a day.

Netflix's 'Shadow and Bone': Everything You Need To Know - What's on Netflix

Okay, night two. I have a fun series of screenshots at the bottom of this post for y’all because you deserve to see me absolutely losing my shit over Kaz & the Darkling sharing a scene, which seriously just proved how much I loved Kaz because I was like “FUCK THE WHOLE PLOT KILL THE DARKLING IF HE HURTS KAZ!” Which, speaking of that scene, I honestly really ended up loving how they threaded the two stories together. It made a lot of sense, and though it makes some things in SOC a little off, I came away with only the smallest of things that I didn’t like that I think, overall, this was a phenomenal adaptation. As far as Alina’s storyline goes, pretty much everything happened? I just reread S&B recently, so it’s in my head fairly clearly right now, and I can’t think of anything major that we missed? And don’t even get me started on the fact that probably 95% of Nina & Matthias’ scenes in the last four episodes were literally verbatim from the book. Like, I just finished SOC on Friday, so the dialogue is all still in my brain, and that was legit lifted straight from the book.

I loved Nina, too, and I ended up having waffles on Sunday morning to celebrate what a success the adaptation was, but Nina just stole my heart in ways I was not expecting. They all did, really, not just Kaz. But, while we’re here–two things that I was overwhelmingly grateful for: a) they didn’t shy away from Kaz’s bad leg, and when he was forced to go without a cane, they didn’t conveniently forget that he was disabled, but continued to make it part of his character, and b) THERE WAS NO KISS. Y’all, I was scared for a second there, during two different quiet scenes with Kaz & Inej, that we were suddenly going to get a Hollywood kiss, and it was making me anxious as all hell. Never before I have rooted so hard for two characters not to kiss, but here we are, and I’m so glad it didn’t happen.

SPEAKING OF KISSES, THOUGH

Happy Smiley

Honestly, that should’ve just been speaking of Jesper Fahey because MY BOYYYYYYY. I’m so excited about so many things. Kit truly brought Jesper’s soul to life, from the constant movement to the beautiful way he handled his revolvers. Everything about Kit’s portrayal of Jesper was stunning, and yes, I 1000000% screamed at 11PM at night while everyone was sleeping when we got to see actual charming as fuck bi icon Jesper Fahey flirting his way shamelessly through the Little Palace.

Also, because I’ve been seeing it go around Twitter, and though I haven’t watched the after party yet to see the comment, JESPER IS BI, IT’S CANON, THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT.

Back to Alina–originally, I wasn’t stoked about how they did the amplifier, and this is twofold. One: there was almost no discussion of the amplifier lore, and while I understand there was a lot of ground to cover, especially with adding the Crows into the story, I was a little worried that non-readers would get lost with everything in the last half of the season. However, two: though I initially thought the amplified was a little over the top, visually, it makes a lot of sense. If you’re going to pull back from info dumps so that your non-readers aren’t overwhelmed with lore, showing all the amplifier magic in that visual way helps guide them straight through the lore without having to sit and talk for a while. Thus, though it looked gruesome, and though I’m sad Alina doesn’t actually have an antler necklace, I understand all the visual aspects of it, and I ended up liking it.

Truthfully, I don’t think there’s anything major that I didn’t like. There’s a few little things, but held up to the rest, I’m left feeling very satisfied with this adaptation. I’m so curious to see where we go from here. I like the way everything ended–I’m glad that we see Alina & Mal chasing their happy ending, I’m so excited that we’re definitely going to get more Crows prequel story, and heck YES to seeing nichevo’ya at the end with the Darkling.

Oh, real quick, speaking of, YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU to the fact that almost immediately after Alina & the Darkling finally kiss, we see that he’s The Actual Worst. It was so difficult for me with Ben Barnes playing the Darkling because ughhhhhhhhhh, so I appreciated being reminded that the Darkling is a manipulative asshole because Ben is too pretty for me to remember that on my own.

your love will be safe with me — Ben Barnes as THE DARKLING in Shadow and  Bone

HOW RUDE

Anyway, this was wonderful, and I’m definitely going to have to rewatch it again soon so I can properly scream over Kaz literally every time he’s onscreen, and even though I was going to take a small break before rereading Crooked Kingdom, my willpower is weak, and it’s only a matter of time, especially considering I’m about to go watch the after party, before I lose all control and just allow myself to be fully consumed by the Grishaverse for the next couple of weeks.

Also, I know we’re still waiting on the official green light from Netflix, but uhhhhhhhhh, when’s the Nikolai casting coming?

(Sara & I had this amazing theory on what the last scene was going to be–just Sturmhond silhouetted on his ship, no clues as to who he is for non-readers, just this super badass pirate looking off at the horizon, lads we’ve got a sun summoner to find–IF ONLY.)

Wait wait wait, I promised screenshots, there’s so many, but you deserve to witness the level of screaming that I did at all times:

What did you think of the adaptation?

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she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

10 thoughts on “Review: Shadow & Bone Netflix Adaptation

  1. I’m so glad to hear that you liked the show! Honestly, I thought that for the most part, it was a delight to watch. As you know, I was a little confused by a couple of things, but I think that if I had known nothing about the books at all, and was going into the show with no outside knowledge, I wouldn’t have been confused at all. Considering everything they were synthesizing into one relatively short show, I thought they did a really good job.

    My issues with it can pretty much be brought down to the fact that everything felt very dramatic in a way that wasn’t *always* earned, especially in the first couple of episodes (but I didn’t really have a problem with that, because it just added to the fun feeling of the show overall), and I thought that it was fairly transparent that the Crows crew was just kind of shuffled into the story; they didn’t really affect anything very much. BUT I still think it was a really good idea to include them, because I think the show wouldn’t have held my attention as much without them, and they were great characters — so fun to follow. I know the show has gotten some criticism for the way racism was portrayed, which is totally valid. I did think that the actor who played Alina was fantastic though.

    And, of course, Ben Barnes, literally born to play the villain with a beautiful face. I LOVED what they did with that character. The way his true motives were revealed only slowly, and then the reason for those motives! It was great, because there was a part of me that was always kind of rooting for him, even when everything was revealed. He was a villain who I completely bought as a villain, because I really believed that he believed he was doing the right thing, even though I could also recognize that he was objectively wrong. Just delicious tbh.

    Overall, I thought the show was a delight to watch! Super fun, even from the perspective of someone who has never read the books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I totally agree, the Crows storyline was pretty ancillary, especially because they don’t actually manage to do what they set out to do (though I’m glad for that because it would’ve messed up a lot of things re: the books), and while I love Alina enough to just follow her storyline, I know that a lot people love the Crows WAY more (guilty) and were in this for them. So, in the end, I’m glad they were there because it was insanely exciting to see them and because I think their presence will make a second season more likely.

      Coming from the books, the dramatic moments were honestly kind of awesome because they’re first person, and we only ever get Alina’s POV, so I was already hyped anytime someone who wasn’t her got screen time, which meant all those dramatic moments had me HOLLERING, hahahaha. But yeah, I can definitely see how they wouldn’t necessarily feel earned, especially because they either skimmed or outright skipped a lot of character development and exposition in regards to lore. And I’m sure I’ll see more of that during my second watch when I’m not just swinging wildly between screaming and grinning like an idiot.

      UGH BEN BARNES! All I’ve ever wanted in life is for him to play a YA villain, and I am LIVING. He was so good. I’m so excited to see him in the next few seasons (please let it happen!) because the Darkling just goes off the rails, and it’s delightful.

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it, too! My friend’s husband, whose never read them, was watching with us, and I was so curious to know if he was following along alright, so it’s good to know it’s still palatable even without other knowledge. But also, like, winkwinknudgenudge, they’re really incredible books. I’m hopefully starting Crooked Kingdom tonight, and I’m just so hyped.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I probably won’t ever read the Shadow and Bone books, because they’re just generally not my thing. However, I would like to read the Six of Crows duology at some point. I have an e-book of SOC, but every time I try to read it, I can’t seem to get into it. From what I understand, though, the first chapter of that one isn’t really a good indicator of the rest of the book? So I’m kind of just waiting until I’m in the exact right mood, but I expect that I will read it eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The first chapter is weird because it’s not a POV you’ll ever see again, which I usually hate when authors do because what’s the point. And it’s a weird one even beyond that because it really doesn’t do the rest of the story justice, nor does it set the tone all that well for what’s to come. I get the desire to have that specific POV and that chapter because it does setup the war that’s going on, and it works as a good link between S&B and the Crows duology, but it does reflect more on S&B than it does on SOC. So yeah, very long, roundabout way of saying get through the first chapter, and it’s definitely worth it.

        Liked by 1 person

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