The Grishaverse Comes to Netflix

shadow and bone coverOn April 23, Netflix will debut its newest highly anticipated adaptation: Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. As a Bardugo fan, I find myself to be both excited and a little apprehensive, which is par for the course for adaptations. Will the show do the book you love justice (e.g. Normal People), or will it be completely unrecognizable (e.g. The Turn of the Screw-turnedThe Haunting of Bly Manor)? Borne from a very specific, early 2010s trend in YA fantasy, this series has been a long time coming. For fans of YA literature, having your faves picked up by Netflix is like a dream come true, even if Netflix’s adaptation history is spotty (did anyone see the ending of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? What was that?!). Netflix is not beholden to the rules of network television, so there’s less chance that the story will be tampered with in order to appease a mass American audience—which is good news for this series, which tends towards dark subject matter and generally more “adult” themes. What’s more, without bending to please middle America, Netflix adaptations are more open to showcasing diversity (see their ultra-popular To All the Boys film trilogy, which previous studios had attempted to whitewash). 

Truthfully, I’m surprised the powers that be chose to adapt Shadow and Bone nowis it me, or is this sort of trilogy-based, post-Hunger Gamesone-girl-to-save-them-all narrative a bit passéIt has, after all, been about a decade since it first took off. Which is why I’m a bit miffed that, rather than simply adapt Bardugo’s (objectively!superior Six of Crows duology, Netflix has decided to combine the two series into one show. The two might take place in the same universe, but genre-wise and tone-wise they are drastically different: Shadow and Bone revolves around Alina Starkov, an unremarkable orphan who discovers she is actually very remarkable indeed. After the blossoming of her powers, she enters the high-society world of the powerfully magical Grisha, and attempts to take down The Fold, “a swathe of impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh” that is threatening the alt-Russia nation of RavkaSix of Crows, meanwhile, centres on a gang of disparate criminals called the Dregs in the Amsterdam-esque city of Ketterdam, after the events of Alina’s story have already concludedI think most fans would agree that between the two, Six of Crows is more worthy of an adaptation. In fact, its ingredients seem ready-made for television: illicit gang activity, a bunch of traumatized misfits finding family with each other, heist action, slow-burn romance, a city setting so fleshed out you can almost smell the corruption. In comparison, Shadow and Bonewhile still compelling, just doesn’t hit the same way 

Continue reading

The Way of the Househusband and… Burnout

Book Cover of The Way of the Househusband Gokushufudou by Kousuke Oono Volume 1I don’t know who needs to hear this (everyone?), but The Way of the Househusband is getting an anime (Netflix) this year, so if you haven’t yet discovered this hilarious, wholesome and infinitely uplifting manga series, check it out before it comes out on Netflix – you won’t regret it: Cute puppers? Check. Incredible artwork that captures expressions that border on grotesquely realistic but remain firmly rooted in the manga style? Check. Non-sequiturs flying about based on puns and misunderstandings (because Tatsu is a former yakuza who looks the part)? Check, check, check! A surprising feminist icon highlighting how much invisible labour housewives take on, giving value to that labour and making sure everyone he encounters understands how much work being a house(wife/husband) is? CHECK.

Continue reading

Diverse Middle Grade for You and a Family Member!

As a youth services staff member, I have a soft spot for middle grade books. After the creation of We Need Diverse Books a few years ago, I’ve started paying closer attention to what stories and perspectives are being told in children’s books.  While the numbers are still overwhelmingly white (as reported by Lee & Low’s annual 2019 Diversity in Publishing survey), I think the past few years have given more awareness to great books that feature all children. This reading list contains just a few recent publications that you may not have heard of but you definitely should add to your to-be-read pile, as they’re perfect for adults and children alike!

These books are all realistic fiction to help narrow down your selection and I don’t think my list covers every book, which just speaks to how many great books there are. As usual, the links below go to the VPL catalogue where you can request these titles and read more about them!

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy. This wonderful book is about twelve year old Rahul Kapoor, a seventh grader who wants to stand up to his bullies by proving that he is the best at something. Now all that’s left for him to do is to figure out what that special something is. This heartwarming story has wonderful gay representation and great discussions about mental health. I’m not the only one that thinks so, as this book is a Stonewall Honor Book and generated 3 starred reviews from trade reviews like Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.

Continue reading