Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 422
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Reviews for book 1 & book 2

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.

Well. I have taken some time before writing this review to attempt to form coherent thoughts so I wouldn't just be flailing all over the place because I know how annoying those reviews can be. It has been days. DAYS. And my emotions are still all over the place. But, hey, I'm a book blogger, so I'll try to pull myself together and make this work for all of you fine people who may still be missing out on this masterpiece!

Ruin and Rising is the last book in the Grisha trilogy. (Hold on, I'm trying not to cry.) This story begins soon after the events of Siege and Storm, with Alina, Mal, and Co. deep underground with the Apparat and his army. Although Alina certainly finds herself in a predicament in the caves, she never gives up hope and manages to escape with her friends to pick up the search for the firebird and (obviously) Nikolai. Once the gang is united, plans are made to finally defeat the Darkling and save Ravka, but of course things don't go quite as planned and all hell breaks loose.

Alina is still one of my favorite characters ever in Ruin and Rising. She is determined and fierce and honestly takes to leadership well. It's interesting to me that a character as power-hungry as Alina could be someone that I loved so much. I think one of the things I most enjoyed about her is that she's usually blatantly honest about it. She never tries to hide what her goals are from the people she cares about and she's never afraid to go for it.

My feelings on Mal did not really change with this book either. In my review of Siege and Storm I called him Dan Humphrey. He's still Dan. Sure, he tries to make up for his crappiness in the last two books (kind of), but he still never seems to be fully supportive of Alina, always wanting her to be someone she just isn't. Sturmhond/Nikolai remained one of my favorites also. He reminded me so much of Captain Jack Harkness or even Carswell Thorne! I loved his wittiness and upbeat attitude in the face of utter darkness.

And then there was the Darkling. My beautiful, wonderful, tragic Darkling, who I will refuse to believe is truly evil until the bitter end. I must have a thing for tortured villains because Anakin Skywalker will also forever hold a place in my heart. He and the Darkling can just hang out together, I guess. Although the Darkling did some undeniably evil things, I truly think that he wanted to be good. I wish that we could go way back to Shadow and Bone and have Alina talk to him before running away to see if things would turn out differently. I think he was more human than he wanted people to think and my heart is still breaking for him days later!

Despite my anguish at how the Darkling was treated in this book, I still loved almost everything about it! I loved watching Alina chase after the third amplifier and attempt to restore power to the people of Ravka. I loved the absolutely insane events that Nikolai encountered. I loved getting to know all of the other Grisha better and I loved, loved, LOVED the cat!

The one thing I completely hated (although obviously not enough to take the rating down a notch) was the way Alina's story ended. Don't get me wrong, I was totally okay with the events that followed the location of the third amplifier. What I hated was what happened after the big final battle was over. I don't know how to say this without spoilers, so highlight at your own risk!

The fact that Dan Mal got exactly what he wanted in the end really pisses me off. Don't get me wrong! I was happy that Alina was able to free Ravka from tyranny and I was even okay with her power being divided up between the soldiers (sort of). I hated that she ended up leaving Ravka and becoming a normal girl again - exactly what Dan Mal wanted from the very first time he saw that she was more of a badass than she was. Okay, so I couldn't have her end up with the Darkling. I can accept that. But it would've been perfectly acceptable for Alina and Nikolai to rule Ravka together. He was perfect! I don't have anything else constructive to add without going on a rampage, so I guess that's all I have to say about that. I am definitely going to need to locate some fanfiction.

Even though there was one thing I didn't really like about the way Ruin and Rising ended, this book is basically perfect. Don't worry about whether or not that makes sense. Just go with it. The Grisha trilogy has surpassed everything else and has taken it's spot on my shelf as my favorite series ever. Never before have I literally lost sleep over the ending of a book (in a good way). If you haven't read the Grisha trilogy yet, I don't understand what you're waiting for! This is definitely a series I'll read again and again!