TV Show Review – Shadow And Bone (Netflix)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s fitting that my first review of a TV show would talk about such a famous book series, isn’t it? The truth is, I didn’t think I’d watch it so soon, but I was so tired yesterday that I couldn’t read or play any game, so I thought, why not? I don’t regret spending my time watching it, mostly. Yet – some decisions were certainly choices, and I didn’t like all of them. In the end though, even more than with a book review, it’s only one opinion and what you’ll think will depend on your relationship with the Grishaverse most of all.

So before I start, a few important notes :

  • I haven’t read the original trilogy since 2014, and it was never a favorite of mine. I liked it alright at the time, but I was never really convinced by it. My memories are… fuzzy, to say the least. I remember not liking Alina and Mal as characters so much, but I’m curious to know what I’d think, now. Will I reread them someday? Probably, I don’t know.
  • On the contrary, I loved the Six of Crows duology : the dregs are in my heart forever.

With that in mind, let’s see what I thought of the TV Show!

What the TV Show did right (or better)

  • Alina and Mal : look, I liked them. For some reason I feel that I understand them and their bond better now than I ever did, back when I read the books.
  • MATTHIAS AND NINA : they gave me life, okay? Their banter, their chemistry – I loved their scenes very much.
  • The Darkling : I’ve always thought that he was a fantastic villain, because he’s multi-layered and fascinating. It won’t come as a surprise that he was my favorite character from the original trilogy, which doesn’t mean that I thought he was a good love-interest (no) (he’s downright abusive, come on). I won’t go back on why I disliked Ruin and Rising because it’s been so long and I don’t have the energy (it’s not the ending, though), but let’s say that I was disappointed by the way it all… fizzled out, somehow. In the end, it was Alina and Mal’s story, and I wasn’t a fan, so. Anyway. Let’s come back to the TV show : I was really satisfied by the way his character was written, and I felt that his character wasn’t wasted or one-dimensional, on the contrary. I really appreciated the little slices of life the flashbacks offered us and Ben Barnes’ acting was on point.
  • I really liked how the dregs were included, probably because I’ve always loved them so much more. It added much-needed humor and made the story more interesting in my opinion. Jesper in particular was amazing.
  • The ending : I liked it better than in the books, honestly. The addition of characters who weren’t originally there was a good idea as far as I’m concerned.
  • The TV show perfectly conveyed the essence of the settings in my opinion, and I loved the atmosphere.

What could have been better

  • It’s a little thing, really, but some of Kaz’s scenes felt off, somehow? I understand that the new medium asked for changes, and Freddy Carter was great, but I couldn’t help but feel that his feelings towards Inej were a bit too obvious at times.
  • It’s a bit ridiculous how many times Mal somehow avoids dying, isn’t it? Mostly it made me laugh, but that non-magical boy certainly got A+ resistance, lmao.

What was (really, really) bad

  • The racism subplot with Alina is gratuitous and offensive. Including racial slurs and racist imagery towards Asian people was lazy storytelling, doesn’t make sense in regards to the original trilogy, and above everything was unnecessarily hurtful. Can’t we have diverse characters thriving? How many times will people of color have to repeat that racist slurs are never a good idea? What’s even more aggravating is the fact that it felt like an afterthought, and that subplot wasn’t given the care it needed. Many SFF stories written by authors of color tackle racism and colonialism in a meaningful way, but here it just wasn’t the case. It’s very obviously written for the white gaze, and left a bad taste in my mouth. If not for that, I would have probably given it a better rating, but no.

Now tell me, have you watched Shadow and Bone? What did you think?

24 thoughts on “TV Show Review – Shadow And Bone (Netflix)

  1. Great rundown on the show! I haven’t read the books so I am going into this with a somewhat fresh pair of eyes. They’re only somewhat because I looked up Six of Crows (and read some spoilers…couldn’t help it) and have been wanting to read it for a while now. It was an enjoyable watch. The Darkling is great. Ben Barnes is great…yes, I will follow. 🤣🤣🤣 I also agree with you…not a great love interest! Jesper is the most entertaining to watch. He is so fun (just ask…🤣). Kaz is…intense. Is he like that in the book? I love Inej’s facial expressions. I think she’s my fave in this. I liked Nina but was a little unsure about Mattias. I am not yet sold on the actor. Mal and Alina are likeable and I am rooting for them. Overall, this has been one of the few things that have made me turn on the tv since Queen’s Gambit. It was a fun watch. The trio from Six of Crows and their stories are what I am looking forward to the most. I will probably read the books soon… least I should…

    1. Ahhh I’m so glad you liked it!!!! Kaz is definitely like that in the books, but as we’re in his head in some chapters, it helps getting to know him! I can definitely recommend the Six of Crows duology, they’re so good 😭

  2. I have watched the series and liked it more than the original trilogy, though I had no special expectations. I plus on the same likes you pointed out above. Mal was terrible in books but here I feel sorry for him and root for their couple. As for crows, I am still unsure how i feel about them. From one side, I would like a spin off, they definitely need more screen time because what we had was not enough. And it’s also weird they met Alina, especially Inej, who mentioned her in books and never met her and here she had. But overall I have positive vibes about the series.

    1. I totally agree about Mal and Alina!! I definitely liked them in the show and I barely stand them in the books, lol. I hope we’ll get more dregs time, too, but that will probably happen when we reach SoC’s plot?

      1. Yeah, the way last Nikolai’s book ended, we will definitely have CoS 3. Can’t wait! Besides, I am also curious how the tv show will evolve)

  3. Great post! I finished it last night and I’m wanting to go and re-watch it all over again. I agree with your points, I wasn’t a Mal fan in the books but the show has me converted and I’m a Ben Barnes simp soooo :’) I agree with the racism undercurrent, it felt uncomfortable! I wish SoC had had it’s own show as the jumping around was jarring and I didn’t really get it. I’m looking forward to a season two though (fingers crossed!) I loved Jesper, he was the best 😀

  4. I haven’t read the books, so I thought maybe I would give the series a try. However, I’ve heard about the racist tone from multiple sources, and—especially as a half-Asian woman myself—I just can’t support something that is so blatantly hurtful. I’m glad people are enjoying it, but I wish the creators hadn’t decided to use their art to create more hurt.

  5. yes, yes, and yes!! i agree with everything here. and ngl i didn’t like alina and mal’s relationship in the books whatsoever. i liked his character but i didn’t like their friendship. after watching the show, there’s so much more to it and i can actually appreciate it a lot more.

    1. Yes!!! I think I’m gonna reread it someday soon to see what I think now, but I didn’t like their relationship at the time (I didn’t want her to be with the darkling either). I’m curious to see what I’ll think now, especially after watching the show!

  6. I wouldn’t have minded the added racism element (that sounds bad..) if it had been like.. better done? why was it only Alina? Mal was also mixed race and experienced none of it. no one was ever questioning the various other not-white individuals so because of that it felt incredibly unbalanced and shoehorned in. no bueno. but also, yes, Jesper was the FAVOURITE. so much was well done. I had such huge expectations, even though I shouldn’t have, and I feel they really came close and in some ways did surpass. I’m excited for season two! – H

    1. I agree, it was so weird??? Didn’t make sense at all tbh. I’m so excited for season 2 too! It made me feel nostalgic and I actually started KoS even though I’ve always said I wouldn’t read it, lol.

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