Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and StormSiege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published: 04 June 2013
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SHADOW AND BONE.

Darkness never dies.

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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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.

Rating: ★★★★★

I was so afraid that Siege and Storm would be one of those books with the much feared second-book syndrome, especially as I progressed towards the middle of the book. I personally felt that there was quite a bit of fillers, but I suppose it was necessary to help progress the story and to build up the intensity of it.

For those of you who intend to read it, fear not! This book is totally worth your time, especially with the amazing beginning and EPIC ending. And the FEELS! Oh gosh. My heart was ripped out and stuffed back into my chest so many times, and I couldn’t agree more with Alina at some parts!

*spoiler alert* Before I dive into the part which kicked my FEELS into overdrive, only highlight the following paragraph if you want to know what happened!

The part which got me all emotional (i.e. wanting to whip out a few knives and slash around wildly) was when Mal was sparring in the stables, and when he won the round and Zoya went up to him and kissed him. AND HE KISSED BACK. Leigh Bardugo did an excellent job of making me feel how Alina felt right then, especially the part about wanting to punch Mal in the ribs and worsening his injuries, yet wanting to get him to a Healer at the same time. And the epic ending, where Alina looked like she was offering herself up to the Devil himself, the Darkling! It was terrible, falling apart on the inside.

Also, it’s amazing how Alina grows so much, yet I didn’t really notice the changes until Mal pointed it out along the way. It’s rather scary, though, how a person can change so much and it being so subtle at the same time.

Oh, yes. Sturmhond is so annoyingly attractive, and it just makes loving/hating him so difficult. What’s more, he’s actually really intelligent. I always have to pause to take in how much meaning his words actually have when I want to wring his neck.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Leigh Bardugo was able to incorporate humour into the story all while keeping the tone consistent. I’ve read books which have humour coming in random and short bursts, which is pretty odd. Not in the case of Siege and Storm, though. Mal and Alina were able to make me smile through the way the interacted (they have such natural chemistry!), even in public. I probably looked crazy smiling at words on a book, but who cares when you’re reading a good one?

Ruin and Rising is sitting right in front of me, so I’ll be off reading that! And, as I quote Adel: “My survival is not guaranteed.”

Signature--JZ

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published: 04 June 2013
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

Darkness never dies.

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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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.

Rating: ★★★★★

My mind is not working. I’m so hungover Siege and Storm. Why, Leigh Bardugo, do you do this to us? I actually tweeted her that and well, the answer was that our tears keep her young. I never expected to love this second installment of The Grisha trilogy so much. It took the Second Book Syndrome, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, cut it into tiny pieces and burnt those pieces to ashes. It also stole my heart and chewed it up.

I simply cannot comprehend the greatness of Siege and Storm. The action picked up right from the start and it did not stop  until the end. It’s like a 432-pages long emotional roller-coaster and by the time you get off, you’ll be a snotty wreck. Everything in the story was compelling, mysterious and nail-bitingly adventurous. As if that’s not enough, the romance just had to be perfectly heartbreaking too.

Remember how I said Alina was a little annoying in my Shadow and Bone review? Scrap it all. She’s utterly amazing in Siege and Storm. Her struggles were real and I love how she’s not all good and angelic simply because she’s the Sun Summoner. Alina’s battle against her power-hungry dark side created such a perfectly imperfect protagonist because well, don’t we all have an ugly side we want to banish but can’t?

As for Mal, I felt so bad for him. A relationship between a Grisha and otkazat’sya (human) would undoubtedly be turbulent but when Alina’s not only a Grisha, but the Sun Summoner too, it’s definitely not easy for Mal. I love that he’s patient with her but won’t put up with her when she’s being all power hungry. Sure, later on in the book they both did some unwise and hurtful things but they are after all still young adults. I can completely relate to them about making rash decisions at certain points of time, especially in their stressful situation.

Moving on to the Darkling… Sometimes I feel so alone when shipping Malina. After discovering the truth about the Darkling, I could never ever see him in a romantic way. Probably because of my repulsion to bad boys. Then again, the Darkling’s not just bad, he’s downright evil. Definitely not my cup of tea. Or well, not my sort of anything. However, I do agree he might be sorely misunderstood and hope that maybe, just maybe, he’s still salvageable. Because I got to admit, in the earlier parts of Shadow and Bone, he was downright charming.

Speaking of charming… There’s a brand new character in Siege and Storm who swept me off my feet immediately with his charm, honor, genius and yumminess. I shan’t say who because this is one of those things best experienced without warning but let me just reveal that this character, is by far my favorite in the trilogy. He’s one of the best male characters I’ve ever come across. Intelligent, witty, ambitious, confident and hilarious yet cunning, manipulative with a shady, ruthless side. All I ask for is that Leigh Bardugo don’t kill him of in Ruin and Rising, the final installment. Because my heart will be shattered and I might as well turn into a volcra and eat myself.

No, that wasn’t supposed to make sense. I’m a jumble of nonsense when it comes to pondering the maybe-death of that particular male character.

Now that I’ve got the character feels off my chest, lets get on to the story! I found myself shouting incredulously in shock numerous times throughout the book. It was completely unpredictable and so intriguing I wanted to scream at anyone or anything who dared interrupt me while reading it. Regarding the ending, everyone, just read that at home or somewhere private. I had to stop halfway through the end and continue on at home because sobbing on the subway would be pretty awkward.

That ending. THAT ENDING.

I feel as though Leigh Bardugo loves to play with our hearts. Maybe she’s secretly a Heartrender! I wouldn’t be surprised. Because what happened to Genya at the end… I can’t even think about it without my heart wrenching. And Alina… Oh, Alina. What she did and the result it had on her… I want to curl up in a corner and weep. The consequence of her actions made me wonder if Mal would still stay by her side. Even more woeful is the fact that Alina’s actions had good intentions. Someone hand me the tissues!

So what am I going to do now? Probably live a miserable life until Ruin and Rising comes out next summer. Or until there’s further news about the Shadow and Bone film. Yes, you read that right. There’s going to be a Grisha film! Thus far, I know they’ve hired a producer who also produced the Harry Potter films. Lets pray & hope that’s a good sign!

To wrap this up, I have 4 words for you. Read this trilogy now.

Adel

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published: 05 June 2012
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), Hardcover, 356 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Rating: ★★★★

Before reading Shadow and Bone, I’ve read great reviews about it and naturally, had high expectations. Moreover, Veronica Roth, one of my favourite authors of all time claimed it was really good so I obviously couldn’t not read it. The book both did and did not live up to my expectations.

The protagonist, Alina Starkov, lived a pretty mundane life (or as mundane as being a soldier in the First Army could be) and didn’t seem to have good self-esteem at the start. However, she made tremendous growth as the story progressed (after she found out she’s a Grisha and all that), slowly learning more about herself. But there were definitely times where I felt a little annoyed with Alina and her naïveté because I expected her to be a stronger character.

As for the love angle/triangle… I wouldn’t exactly call it that. I can’t explain though, because that would just give off spoilers. What I can say is that those who dislike love angles/triangles would probably be able to tolerate the romance. Regarding the guys, I started off preferring the Darkling because Mal seemed way too arrogant and immature at the start. And I’ve never really liked blonde guys. But I always got the niggling feeling that there was a darker (no pun intended) side to the Darkling so I didn’t truly ship any of them.

Although, in the end, Mal won me over. Probably because we got to see more of him towards the end and hey! He’s a pretty decent (fine, more than just decent) guy!

My favourite part of the book was the whole concept of the fantasy world it was set in. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if I were in it, I would want to be a Grisha so darn bad. They kind of reminded me of the element Benders in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, what with all the element wielding or in the case of Heartrenders, the wielding of blood.

One concern I had before starting on Shadow and Bone was the fact that many people criticized the ancient Russia vibes in it being inaccurate and all that. Personally, I have close to no knowledge on ancient Russia so if it had any inaccuracies, I wasn’t able to tell. However, it was just inspired by ancient Russia, not set in it. So I guess it shouldn’t be expected that everything be completely realistic. It is a fantasy novel after all!

Although slightly predictable, the ending was quite engaging and though it wasn’t really a cliffhanger, it will definitely leave you curious. Very curious.

In a nutshell, I wouldn’t say Shadow and Bone was completely amazing due to the fact that Alina really wasn’t the best protagonist out there. She was a tad too gullible. Despite that, the book does have plenty of redeeming qualities, especially the wonderful, scary, addictive, fantastic world it was set in.

Adelena