OPINION: “Shadow and Bone” is the future of adaptations

EP Presnell

A couple of weeks ago, Netflix’s adaptation of the popular YA series “Shadow and Bone” dropped and made waves in both the YA book community on social media platforms and television reviewers. Regardless as to what brings viewers to the series, it is popular and an overall success. 

As someone who read the books for the first time this past month (I read the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and am working my way through “Six of Crows” currently) I can say that this is an amazing adaptation of the books. The first season focuses on the first book primarily with a side story that is completely new featuring some of the characters from “Six of Crows.” Despite their story being brand new, Kaz, Inej and Jesper are adapted and written beautifully to maintain their voice and style from their source content.

What really stands out about “Shadow and Bone” and its adaptation is how the story transforms to fit on screen and in 2021. The original series was written in 2013 and follows the basic hero’s journey story; I’m sure you’ve heard this story before. 

A girl who grew up ordinary thinks there is nothing special about her and has a childhood friend who she will soon enough find out she’s in love with. After finding out she’s special, she gets taken into this new world where a new man tries to seduce her, but ultimately ends up with her friend. 

This is how “Shadow and Bone” works, but Leigh Bardugo has such immense world building with the Grisha that it stands out from other series. This is also furthered by the fact there have been some minor rewrites and character adjustments to make each of the characters unique and enjoyable that weren’t as prominent in the book. 

Overall, I absolutely loved “Shadow and Bone” and think it is an amazing example of what book adaptations should be. 

What makes books amazing and, in my opinion, one of the best entertainment platforms, is that it is a limitless platform. Books can be very long, super short or anywhere in the middle and it has the ability to really fledge stories and characters out. Movies have a time limit, which means certain things have to be cut for time in instances like a book adaptation. If a book is going to be adapted, television shows have the time and opportunity to truly fledge it out that a movie simply can’t do. 

Fantasy series especially deserve the time to world build through television shows which allows growth for the characters and an attachment to grow between fans and the show. Two wonderful examples of failed adaptations are the “City of Bones” movie and the infamously awful “Percy Jackson” movies. Although “City of Bones” was adapted later into the “Shadowhunters” show on Freeform, that also flopped horribly; these are both books that could have done very well had they simply been given a show platform to expand and grow. 

Currently, Disney + has a Percy Jackson series in the works, so all of my fingers are crossed that they can follow in Netflix’s footsteps and create an adaptation that honors the books well. 

At the end of the day, it is thrilling to see book characters get brought to screens and to see their stories interpreted in a new way, but television shows need to be the new normal for adaptations. “Shadow and Bone” showed that with the right crew and brains working on a project, amazing things can come from it.