• ★★★★★-5

Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (re-read)

Re-read 2020:


Only I had the power to save him— and I was powerless to save him.


I am delighted to say that I adored this even more upon re-read. I can see why many people view it as just another 'basic' YA fantasy, but Shadow and Bone really stands out to me. Something about this world just feels so real. I understand the cultures, I understand the dynamics between characters, and it truly feels like I could be living in the Grishaverse.


What really took me by surprise this time around, however, is that I kind of loved Mal??? One of my strongest memories from the first time I read this was that I thought Mal was boring, but upon re-read I'm questioning why I ever thought that??????


'What is she to you anyway?' Here's my answer, Captain. She's the thing that made this all okay— the threadbare coats and the old boots and the guns that jam when you most need them to fire, the loneliness of knowing that you don't matter, that you will never matter, the fact that you're just another body, another uniform to be sent into the Fold or the frost, another good boy who knows his place, who does his job, who doesn't ask questions, who will lie down and die and be forgotten. What is she? She's everything, you dumb son of a bitch.


LIKE HUH??? Where was I when Mal was popping off like this??? Absolute king behavior.


My theory is that I was just absolutely blinded by Nikolai in book 2 which still might happen (I mean he's a blond, sarcastic pirate, who could resist that...), but I think since I've read King of Scars, by now I'll have moved on from shipping him with Alina.


Speaking of Alina, she also really shined (ha!) during this re-read. Bardugo really understands human emotion and that's so evident in how Alina emotionally processes the world. She wants to belong, to feel special, and the Darkling is able to make that happen, but she also recognizes the stupidity in thinking like that. Yet, she can't help it, which is so, so human, and very relatable. I also thought her conflicts with Mal throughout the book were so realistic. I knew exactly what each of them felt and what they were trying to do during these interactions, and I felt the pain they felt when things turned sour for no good reason.


I also absolutely loved Genya and Alina's friendship. It really reminded me of Nehemia or Lysandra and Celaena in Throne of Glass. Female frienships are so underrated in fiction.


One thing that I still just don't feel the hype for that most Shadow and Bone stans do is the Darkling. Well, as a character I do get it— he's pretty iconic with the whole 'Fine, make me your villain' spiel— but as a ship? It just doesn't do it for me.


'The problem with wanting,' he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, 'is that it makes us weak.'


Like, I just can't help but see any of their scenes together from the perspective of him manipulating her. I know this kind of evolves in later entries, but I'll have to get to those first before I change my mind I suppose.


All in all, I can't wait to continue this re-read in giddy anticipation of the show!


Song I was reminded of while reading: Centuries



Original read 2017:


SO GOOD. I read this book all in one day, and never felt bored of it. Ever. The world and characters are so vivid and entertaining to read about. I can't wait to read the next book!!




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