Netflix Original Series: Shadow and Bone Review

Learn a little bit about this on screen adaption series and how it compares to it’s book.


Michaela Hoover

Alina’s first time seeing her powers come to life in front of her eyes.

Michaela Hoover, Reporter

Shadow and Bone is a newly released 2021 fantasy series on Netflix, based on a book trilogy.

I came across the show while searching through Netflix for something to entertain me. The trailer and didn’t grab my attention at first, but nonetheless, I decided to give it a watch.

The show was the perfect teenage dream fantasy and I enjoyed it very much so I’m glad I gave it a shot. I watched it in less than two days and I was completely submerged in every aspect of the world the entire time.

The plot centers around a teenage orphan girl named Alina, who works as a mapmaker on the front lines for a war-torn country called Ravka. In the heat of battle, she discovers that she possesses these sun-like powers that allow her to emit light. She realizes that she belongs to a group of feared and hated humans with supernatural powers, referred to as Grisha.

Shadow and Bone offers a similar feeling to that of Game of Thrones. It is a mysterious and dark fantasy landscape that has plenty of diverse characters and plot twists.

The cast works well together to emit strong emotion in each scene. The well-portrayed feelings of each character are so well acted out it has the ability to cause the viewers to experience the scene alongside the characters.

With such strong emotion being emitted from each individual, it made each emotional scene that much more intense for me, and it kept me on the edge of my seat hoping for the outcome I wanted.

The eight episodes that encompass the first season provide countless scenes packed full of action and surprises. 

Each scene is well accompanied by opulent and detailed settings that add to the plot of each character.

Though viewers may grow to like several characters in the series, every episode continuously heightens the viewer’s desire to specifically see Alina finally embrace her full potential and be unapologetically herself.

Like the series predecessors, “Twilight” and the “Hunger Games,” the series has a main character who is torn between two men. But unlike its predecessors, Alina, by the end, steps up to take charge of her own life.

This Netflix original series has really taken the initiative to toss out sexist clichés and create a lead character worthy of her own adventure story.

At every chance, Alina makes efforts to stand up for herself and by the end, she is the driver of her own fate.

The show’s costumes enhance the setting and aid in Alina’s powerful appearance. Alina was never once dressed to attract the attention of the male gaze. Throughout the show’s entirety, she holds a powerful presence with her lush outfits.

With all this in mind the series perfectly shows viewers what a female lead role looks like instead of insisting that since she is the lead role, she is automatically a leader.

This scene shows Alina taking a major first step into realizing her true potential. (Michaela Hoover)

Now compared to the book that goes by the same title, Shadow and Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo, there are notable differences between the book version and the television series. 

One major difference between the two is the presence of the trio that calls themselves The Crows. 

This group does not appear in the first book nor any other book in the trilogy. The group was merely referenced in the paper version.

Including the trio in the on-screen adaptation, intertwines a new storyline into an already action-packed plot; and in doing so, expands the world in which the story takes place and makes for a much larger and diverse cast.

Similarly, another character that takes a different storyline on screen than in books, is Mal. 

Mal is Alina’s childhood friend, who in the books is depicted as bitter, resentful, and angry towards Alina after she discovers her powers.

In the shows, however, Mal is stripped of his toxic masculinity traits and is much more open and communicative. 

Mal in the series views Alina as a person who has a right to speak on any matter. Ultimately it’s a great character upgrade.

A major plot twist that occurred in the series that did not happen in the book was what happens with the identity of General Kirigan.

According to Senior, Miranda Butler, who has also read and watched the series, “I view it as one of the major plot twists that were changed.”

In all, this newly adapted series has grown much from its original book version. 

It offers surprise after surprise, may cause your jaw to drop, and who knows it may even have you rooting for the bad guy.