Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Full Series Review)

Hi, lovelies! Today I have a full series review for you all. With the new Netflix adaptation of Shadow and Bone coming out in April, I decided that I wanted to reread all of the books in the Grishaverse. Soon after, I realized I’d never reviewed the original trilogy. So, this past week I binge read the three books in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Instead of giving each book its own review, I thought it would be easier to just review the whole series in one post. So, that’s what I have here for you. (I’ve already reviewed Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom if you want to check out those reviews when you’re done reading this one.)

Book One – Shadow and Bone

Summary:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. 

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Review:
I enjoyed Shadow and Bone but I think because I’ve read it before it felt lackluster. There were some things I didn’t remember, but nothing that really surprised me (maybe because I haven’t waited long enough to forget). I feel like so much happened in this book but at the same time, it felt like nothing happened the whole time. There were also some things that bothered me that I don’t think I noticed the previous times I read this book. One of those things is how quickly Alina accepts her power as Sun Summoner. I think this is supposed to be because it made sense to her, but I would have liked a bit more internal conversation about her acceptance of this. She goes from disbelief to throwing herself into her new studies too quickly for my liking. Another thing is her ‘friendship’ with Marie and Nadia. We’re supposed to care about these two girls that have befriended Alina, right? Because we know next to nothing about them in this book and I didn’t care about them at all.
It was easy to read, aside from remembering what Grisha had which power. It felt like a simple story (especially compared to her other books). Alina had one goal, well two if you count finding Mal, and she didn’t reach it. Which I think that’s why it feels like nothing happened. She was trained with her ability and then ran away. But when she got her courage together and tried to do the right thing she failed. So, it’s almost like the whole story was pointless. I know there’s two more books and I am picking up the second one tonight. I don’t know, I just feel like I remember liking this series so much more than the reading experience I just had.
As for Mal and Alina, their ‘romance’ wasn’t very easy for me to get invested in. It seemed like Alina was the one that cared more. I made a note while reading that said, “Alina shows Mal a lot of loyalty, but does Mal show the same thing back?” I think maybe eventually, but I didn’t see that in this book.

Book Two – Siege and Storm

Summary:
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. 

Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2)

Review:
There were a few things that managed to surprise me in this book. I forgot about a certain plot point that happens with Genya (who I still love with my whole heart). Alina starts to gain confidence in herself and we see that when she speaks up a few times. Though, she is still in denial about that fact that she needs to save the world which was annoying.
I definitely see why everyone says this suffers from second book syndrome. Beacuse it does. They plan and plan and plan, and literally everything fails. I understand why some of the stuff needed to be in there, but I feel like there was so much unnecessary story. Mal pissed me off the whole time, they found literally nothing on the firebird and Alina almost died. I think this could have been a much shorter story. And while I understand that things needed to happen, like meeting Sturmhond (the only good part of this book), there was so much telling and barley and showing because nothing is really happening. Alina is being paraded around, and people are preparing but nothing is happening. That’s really my biggest complaint. This was almost 500 pages and almost nothing happened. But I will say, despite nothing really happening, I was, surprisingly, never bored.

Book Three – Ruin and Rising

Summary:
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3)

Review:
The first thing I want to mention about this book is the setting and the writing. I probably could have mentioned it for the previous books, but it stood out the most for me in this one. Bardugo’s writing is stunning. She really knows how to set a scene and describe the setting these characters are in. It stood out the most to me while the gang is traveling through the tunnels.
This book is my favorite out of all three. This was the book where I found myself finally invested in the relationships. Where we’re seeing all of these characters together and how they’ve grown after all the trials they’ve faced together. Zoya is my Queen and favorite. I liked that Alina and Zoya managed to find a sort of friendship when they started out hating one another. There were quite a few things that I completely forgot about in this story. I found myself surprised by twists I should have remembered more than once. I really enjoyed being surprised and I thought all of these twists were well done.
Overall, I enjoyed this one the most. There were plot twists that I’d totally forgotten about. I grew to love characters I didn’t like when I started my reread. I even ended up really liking Mal and Alina together. So many people say that he’s controlling and boring and blah blah, but I didn’t see any of that. I thought the almost constant nods to his tracking abilities were a little over the top, but after finishing the book I realize that it’s done that way on purpose. I love Nikolai with my whole heart. Genya, Zoya, David, and the twins are my favorites. I think overall this series was really well done. I know many don’t like the way this book ended, but I did. I think it was a satisfying ending that brought things to a full circle, ending where they began. Alina never wanted to be special, so I liked that she got her quiet life back.

Now, this series as a whole stands up against time, I think. I think individually each book has its issues. But if you look at all three books together, they are really great books. When I was reading the first and second books, I was considering unhauling my copies after I finished my reread. Now, that I’ve finished I remember why I loved this series so much. I may not have liked all of the choices the characters made, or even liked all of the characters, I think this was an incredible adventure. I think this series will find fans for many years to come.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the cities dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Review:
I honestly don’t know how I’m supposed to express my love for this book with real words. Aside from writing ‘I loved this’ over and over again I’m not sure what you people want from me. I’m just kidding friends. First off, I still love the setting here. In Ketterdam it’s a whole different world from the familiar Ravka from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I love the dirty and grittiness of the Barrel. I love the gang aspect with these characters. They’re supposed to be criminals, low lives, and good for nothing. But they show us that they’re so much more over and over again. These friends prove that they’re more than their assumptions time and time again. This friend group is probably the most appealing thing in the story. While the plot is interesting, the characters are really what I’m here for. From the irreparably damaged Kaz to the ever-noble Matthias. They all are just the perfect combination of sass and anger and unresolved issues. They each bring something unique but essential to the friend squad and I loved every second of it.

“What you want and what the world needs are not always in accord, Kaz. Praying and wishing are not the same thing.”

Nina is probably my favorite and I’m excited/nervous for her story to continue in King of Scars because people have said they just didn’t care about Nina’s chapters. I feel like Nina really got the worst out of everyone. Leigh Bardugo really did her dirty and she didn’t deserve it. Despite this, she made me laugh. Her love of cake and waffles and sweets was so relatable and just put a smile on my face.

“She was the Queen of Mourning, and in its depths, she would never drown.”

Matthias made laugh with his attempts at restraint and Nina always messing with him. I really admired his strength for trying to fight everything he’s been taught his whole life and everything he’s ever known. Trying to come to terms with the fact that he and his home country are wrong, he really shows growth and I loved it.

“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”

Jesper also had some great growth in this book and I’d love to see where he is now. I think he really comes to terms with who he is and the abilities and flaws that he has. I think he developed wonderfully after making some mistakes in the first book, he does anything and everything he can to make amends for the things he did. Despite him trying to make amends, he was full of jokes and sarcasm and sass and I loved it.

Mati en sheva yelu. This action will have no echo. It means we won’t repeat the same mistakes, that we won’t continue to do harm.”

Then there’s little Wylan. He’s probably not little, but the way that everyone talks to him I picture him as a small boy. He starts off as our designated soft boy but develops into so much more. I think Wylan is really just trying to prove himself and where his loyalties are. I think Wylan’s ending was the best. He really is the only one that got everything he wanted but I think he deserved it.

“You’re weak because you’re afraid of people seeing your weakness. You’re letting shame decide who you are.”

Our Wraith is next, the beloved Inej. She has a lot of inner conflict in these books and I really get it. It makes her relatable. She does what she needs to survive, even if those things don’t always sit well with her, even if those things don’t always align with her morals. I think she is the most interesting character because of this.

We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”

Finally, our fearless leader, Kaz Brekker. The criminal mastermind bent on revenge. He’s incredibly smart and clever. He always seems to have a solution for everything and sometimes those solutions are so crazy they just might work. I found myself reading and thinking to myself, ‘Holy shit that was lucky’ and then ten pages later finding out that it was Kaz that planned it all along. There were parts that I thought there was no way Kaz has planned these things that everything is falling apart, but then it all works out exactly how Kaz wanted it to and it blows me away.

“I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Overall this book was incredible. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I loved seeing these characters working together and growing together. They have the most fun and craziest adventures. They just have an incredible dynamic and I loved it. I loved seeing the characters we met in the Shadow and Bone books. I loved seeing the world just come together. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It seemed a little lacking. There just wasn’t anything solid for any of the characters. It was so open-ended and I get that the books in this world aren’t over, so it makes sense. But it was just not a satisfying ending. Other than that, I loved everything about this book, even the heartbreak. I have to go read King of Scars now, bye.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.