Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and RisingRuin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo
Series:
The Grisha #3
Publication Date: 17 June 2014
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 417 pages
Source: Gifted

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SHADOW AND BONE AND SIEGE AND STORM.

The capital has fallen.

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.

Rating: ★★★★½

I’m surprised that the ending didn’t leave me emotionally crippled and unable to get out of bed the next morning. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t great. It was great.

Let’s start from the beginning of this book. Leigh Bardugo sure did an awesome job making the Apparat a character that’s not only really creepy, but also one that you want to strangle, even in your sleep. The build up of the action was well-paced, with nothing rushed as the story progressed towards the final showdown. I really loved how the relationships between the characters developed – in fact, I think that that’s the reason why I clawed at my chest in agony due to overwhelming feels (I might be exaggerating a little here, but you get the idea). Continue reading “Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo”

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and RisingRuin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo
Series:
The Grisha #3
Publication Date: 17 June 2014
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 417 pages
Source: Purchased

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SHADOW AND BONE AND SIEGE AND STORM.

The capital has fallen.

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.

Rating: ★★★★★

My insides hurt, my head hurts, my feels hurt… I just hurt everywhere. My brain is simply not processing that The Grisha trilogy is over. Done. Finished. No more. I’m completely aware Leigh Bardugo is writing another series, called The Dregs, set in the Grishaverse too but it’s not the same. Because the journey of Alina Starkov—soldier, sun summoner, saint—has come to an end and I really don’t know what to do with my life. (This is the most obvious symptom of a book hangover, in case you didn’t know.)

Ruin and Rising did not just live up to my expectations. No, it blew my expectations to pieces and was the perfect end to an incredible trilogy. Perfect meaning lots of gore, feels, tears, action, and did I mention tears and feels?

Starting a few months after the epic face-off between the Darkling and Alina, our protagonist and her allies had been stuck living underground under the thumb of the Apparat. Weak and discouraged, saving Ravka from the Darkling seemed like quite an impossible feat. However, like always, Bardugo created non-stop action right from the start. I honestly couldn’t remember a single moment where I was not dying to find out what happened next.

Wait, I take that back. I was too busy crying at the end to care what happened next.

Moving on, recall how I had a pretty rocky start with Alina back in Shadow and Bone? Well, I personally vouch for her incredible growth as the trilogy progressed, especially in the last two books. Alina’s development is one of the best and most touching I’ve ever read. Despite her becoming harsher and a teensy bit evil, it was real. It showed that even when people mature in character, they pick up negative traits.

As for Mal… Give me a moment while I swoon and wish for a guy to love me the way he loves Alina. Similar to my feelings about Alina at first, I wasn’t a fan of Mal at the start of the trilogy. He slightly came off as a cocky and selfish jerk who didn’t have the balls to act on his feelings for Alina and instead decided to fool around with other girls to ‘forget’ her.

How much that has changed! I finally comprehend that Mal would do anything for Alina and not in the cheesy way but the most serious way possible. You’ve got no idea how many times I wanted to give them both huge bear hugs and tell them everything will be alright (though that would be a lie). What’s my current view of Mal? Freaking perfection.

But no matter who or what I was, I would have been yours.

– p. 361

That brings me to the fact that all the characters in The Grisha trilogy are so imperfectly perfect. Their change and growth is constant and realistic. Plus, their faults and quirks complement their personalities so much, reading about them felt like interacting with real people.

Mal developed (undeniably sexy) leadership skills, Genya learned to accept her disfiguration, Nikolai/Sturmhond (we all know he’s not dead) went through hardships he’d never thought he’d face, the Darkling… actually appeared human, Zoya, Baghra, Nadia, Tolya, Tamar… the list goes on and I wish I could list all that these characters have achieved but then, this review would never end. But, I will elaborate on two.

Nikolai Lantsov. Sturmhond. The too-clever fox. MINE – just thought I should make it clear.  My crazy fangirling aside, Nikolai is truly one of the most colourful and vibrant characters ever. Intelligent, hilarious, efficient and good hearted (he just doesn’t show it sometimes), I really don’t think it’s fair he has to be drool-worthily attractive too.

Although he mostly comes off as a carefree character, you’ll get to witness a more serious and may I say, kingly, side of him. Not to mention a particular difficulty (understatement here) he faced. All that did not make him any less charming though. I would be his queen any day!

Continuing to the Darkling, I won’t give you false hope that he decided to turn kind-hearted, gave up world domination and instead ran a non-profit unicorn sanctuary for the rest of his life. The Darkling is pure unadulterated evil – though it’s possibly nurtured.

We will find out the Darkling’s true name in Ruin and Rising and despite being ordinary, I found it utterly suitable. It showed how the Darkling was once human like everyone else and that it was the effects of life and his own choices that led to him becoming corrupt. Like I said, nurtured.

Though I’ve always made my hate for the Darkling clear (apart from the first half of Shadow and Bone where I guiltily found him alluring) I will admit to crying for him in this last book. So be prepared to feel some sympathy.

“You might make me a better man.”

“And you might make me a monster.”

– p. 73

The direction the story took was impeccable albeit heartbreaking. However, I will admit I expected a little more damage to the organ that pumps my blood. Nonetheless, the plot twists would leave you reeling and so will Bardugo’s great ability to link them perfectly to other aspects of the story.

All in all, I just… ugh. I can’t end this. My heart can’t take anymore after all the intense feels and admitting that the trilogy has ended will… Hi, heart. Meet death and denial. I won’t say anymore apart from you need to read this trilogy and it is one I’ll definitely be re-reading someday. By the way, I almost never re-read so that’s a pretty big deal for me. Well, I’m going to go to a corner, hug my knees to my chest and rock like a cray cray person right now. Bye.

Signature-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