Shadow and Bone, like Eragon, has a whole new enriching map of the world we'll be adventuring in for the rest of the series, a continent divided between three countries, Fjerda, Shu Han, and Ravka (which is divided in itself to West Ravka and East Ravka, east being much bigger and separated by the Shadow Fold/Unsea). Guess which is the main country for this part? Yep, Ravka. Like a lot of fantasy books I've read recently, there are a lot of big names. This is through the perspective of Alina Starkov, a mapmaker living in Keramzin with her friend who grew up with her in Ana Kunya's orphanage, Mal, who goes for every lady he comes across. Outside of their home of Poliznaya, there has been a hundred year war between the countries, not to mention the fact that years back, the Shadow Fold came out of nowhere and encapsulated a large chunk of the land. Ever since, this sea of black has been protected by the volcra, creatures who look like pterodactyls from the Ghostbusters realm. When Alina is sent by The Vy and over to Novokribirsk for work, the world just might discover new secrets about the realm of darkness and misery, and herself.
I don't know why a lot of authors seem to say that being able to use your powers is to be able to let go. Red Queen did this as well as this one, but I guess I can't blame Shadow and Bone because it was published first. Heck, even I used this storyline for one of my upcoming novels. I guess one thing I certainly would've changed in the book was make a marginally harder process of Alina discovering her powers. Then again, this book is in a constant time snap, one or two pages maybe describing the outcome of about two or three days occasionally. From the books I've read recently, I wasn't used to that, but it was in a way refreshing. You know something about me? I don't really have the capacity as a YA author to pass up time like Leigh Bardugo does. Every book I've ever written goes through a few days to a week. Either way, Shadow and Bone is not only fast paced, but an easy page turner. Like, I mean, blink-of-an-eye-quarter-way-done easy. Now, there were a few times where I was reading and I said to myself, "Wait, I need to go back, where is this place?" Thankfully, the map seriously helps. And this one moment two-thirds of the way in was a sequence I was expecting, and happened sort of way too out of the blue. But for most of the book, I was flowing through it properly. And I use those terms because there is a romantic moment that for once I didn't see coming at all, probably because of the age difference, which isn't as gross as it sounds because of...well, actually, I forgot to mention the Grisha, who are one of three people: the Corporalki; Heartrenders and Healers, the Etherialki; Summoners, and the Matieralki; Creators. That I had memorized after a little while, proof I was really into Leigh Bardugo's world.
The movie kind of has a slow second act after an overly early character pulling, which is one of the main reasons for my 3/4 grade rather than 3.5/4 grade, but it really makes up for that with a terrific first act, an early and once-again fast-paced third act where you are with Alina every step and some parts even feel like a video game you want to play, like a Naughty Dog game (Uncharted or The Last of Us). I've read this sort of story before, but not in this kind of fashion, and in a fantasy world as engrossing as this. I'd definitely recommend you go out and give it a chance.