Book Reads: The Shadow & Bone Trilogy (Leigh Bardugo)

December 31, 2023

It's been a while since I got hooked reading a novel. I thought this was because of my shortening attention span (due all the doom scrolling that I have done on social media 😅). However, I realized it just depends on the material that I am reading. In this case, I was able to finish three books in a matter of weeks. That says something about how good the series is. I'm referring to the "Shadow & Bones" trilogy, written by Leigh Bardugo. The series has been picked up by Netflix and created two seasons for the adaptation of the novel. 

I have first encountered the Grishaverse (as they call it) in the Netflix adaptation actually. I liked it so much that I wrote them on the blog (both season 1 and season 2!). I only got the motivation to go to the original book material when it was announced that Netflix cancelled the production of season 3. 😭 I felt so devastated upon learning this because I was really looking forward to the next season because season 2 concluded in a very interesting cliffhanger, that raised a lot of questions within me.

And so because I had no choice left to learn what happened next to Alina and the gang, I sought after the books. Upon some quick research, I learned that the story in the novel is already wrapped up. I felt relieved because at least for the novel, I am assured that I will learn the conclusion of Alina's story as the Sun Summoner.

In the first few chapters of the first book, it was a glaring difference from the Netflix adaptation that the Six of Crows were missing in the plot. I would later learn that the characters were from a different book spinoff. And then as I read further, I discovered the differences in the story that went on the books compared to the Netflix adaptation.

Some of the differences that I have discovered are the following:
  • The book describes the Darkling's powers as far worse and more powerful. There were more standoff battles with the Darkling, and also more deaths in the books.
  • It was the Darkling that made the first move for the kiss towards Alina. It's the opposite in the Netflix adaptation.
  • Nikolai had more depth as a character in the books. This was quite understandable, because the books provided more details about him. I got to like Nikolai in the books. He's one extraordinary man, and he went through a lot that allowed him to develop that strong character of his. In the TV series, it was implied that he had some kind of romantic feelings for Alina, but in the book, we see that the marriage proposal was first and foremost a political and calculated move. But despite all that, he genuinely cared for her still.
  • Alina and Mal's love story is so much better in the books. It was the conclusion that I badly needed after seeing how their relationship went in the series adaptation. The story sequence wherein Mal had to sacrifice himself for the firebird was so satisfying in the books, and that plot twist was so shocking (which the Netflix series did a 180 degree turn). Actually, that twist was the reason I loved the novel version so much. Alina and Mal had such a happy and sweet ending. And my heart ached upon reaching the last page of the novel because I loved them so much.
  • The Apparat and the older prince was totally skipped in the Netflix series. The Apparat had some significant role in the series so it was a surprise for me that this character was missing in the Netflix series. However, this is I think because the TV adaptation had to make some room to cover the Six of Crows arc, so they had to slash off these supporting characters.
I was actually surprised that I got hooked reading the books, even though I already knew the plot for more than half of the book. However, even though I already knew the flow of the story (for the most part), it was still a joy to revisit the adventures of Alina and Mal, and the interactions with the Darkling and the other Grisha. The storyline got vivid because of the details of each chapter. I just used my imagination to fill in the new details provided by the book.

It was such an adventure. The books were hard to put down. Good thing I was reading it on my Kindle Paperwhite. I was able to read it when I was waiting at the clinic or at home before going to bed each night (which was a lovely alternative also for doom scrolling at night). I really got so attached with Alina and Mal's love story. Closing the book felt like I was parting from people that I got to love so much.

I'm so glad that I got the motivation to read the books. Even if Netflix changes its mind and continues the series, I think I won't follow it anymore, because it doesn't have the happy ending for Alina and Mal. I'm treating the Netflix version now as not canon. 😝

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