• Theo

Shadow & Bone - Series Review

A series based on a young adult, fantasy book series, brought to life on Netflix, often compared with The Hunger Games. The brand new series, Shadow and Bone has generated quite the buzz attracting new fans as well as those who loved the book.

The story is set in an alternate, fantasy world where we follow Alina, a seventeen-year-old orphan who finds herself in the centre of a class divide. We start the series off as Alina arrives at The Fold. A dark, mystical wall that divides a country. The Fold was created by a Grisha, those who are able to use the ‘small science’, basically magic except they produce it by using elements that are around them.

Once Alina arrives at the camp, we meet her lifelong best friend (and also orphan), Mal. They grew up together in the orphanage and developed a close bond making them inseparable. The pair then have to enter the fold together on a supply run where they encounter Volcra. Monsters that aim to kill anyone who enters The Fold. Volcra attack Mal and Alina which is when we learn (as do the characters) that Alina is the sun summoner. Something that was only known as a myth and is the first of her kind. Thus the true story begins of Alina’s journey to try and destroy The Fold as well as find out who she really is and what she’s capable of (with the help of General Kirigan).

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a young adult series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The script is well written and the acting is fantastic. Every moment is perfectly portrayed which is a rarity. The pace of the series is perfect and there are no real boring parts. It’s eight episodes, an hour-long each and every character’s story is intertwined.

As the series progresses, we learn more about each of the character’s history and in many TV shows, those can be boring moments; but not in Shadow and Bone. We care about most of the characters, Aleksander, Alina, Mal, Kaz, etc., and finding out more helps us understand them and their motives a whole lot better.

The fantasy element is perfectly presented where you are transported to something out of this world, but very quickly accept it as yours. The rules are explained clearly but also subtly as in, it doesn’t feel as though it’s written too obviously for the audience but we find out what we need to know through very ordinary conversations.

The main YA element has to be the love triangle. Should Alina end up with Mal or Aleksander? This was the first time I felt old as the choice seemed pretty obvious to me however, looking at the online response to this show, it seems that many people prefer the other one. It’s an integral part of the story, but it doesn’t become overwhelming meaning that if romance isn’t your thing, you could easily watch this show and enjoy it because of the storyline that centers around the sun summoner.

There aren’t that many bad things that I could say about this show. Perhaps it’s slightly predictable and cheesy in some places, but personally, that’s what makes me love it even more. Understandably, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Game of Thrones changed the fantasy genre but Shadow and Bone is a more timid version.

One of my biggest issues was the casting of General Kirigan/Aleksander. He is supposed to be a love interest to Alina but the age gap made me more uncomfortable than I expected. I’ve always been an advocate for age is just a number but something about it just didn’t feel right. My only understanding towards the end was that perhaps it was the acting of Ben Barnes that made it so subtly uncomfortable. To be clear, that’s not a criticism. Feeling on edge when certain characters are on screen is often invoked with music, but Ben Barnes seems to accomplish it just with his presence. It was just watching it at the time, and not being totally confident how it’ll play out, it just felt inappropriate that someone of such high ranking would fall in love so quickly with his student (effectively) and someone so much younger (I think Alina is around seventeen?). Either way, after a few episodes, I got used to it.

It’s a brilliantly created world that explores a variety of themes, many of which we can apply to our life. Nevertheless, it provides the perfect escape from our lives which we do occasionally need.

My Rating - 8.5/10

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