Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3 (3/3)
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: [Young Adult] High/Epic Fantasy
Rerated: 3.5 Stars
3 Stars, Completed July 5, 2015
I prolonged this review as long as I could because I was so confused-I’m still confused, actually-with the book itself and how to rate it. Like the first two installments, there was Bardugo’s trademark pacing: so much happened towards the later half however this time a lot was left unexplained as well. And I had more questions especially knowing this was the conclusion.
Ruin and Rising naturally takes place right after the (super crazy) events in Siege and Storm. Alina, Mal, and the other remaining Grisha of the second army are somewhat held captive underground by the Apparat. Alina is getting weaker by the day after her duel with the Darkling and it doesn’t help that she’s unable to summon her powers underground. Nikolai’s survival and location remains unknown, and the Darkling is stronger than ever. In this final installment, Alina must find the third amplifier and save all of Ravka once and for all.
I became a Leigh Bardugo fan after Shadow and Bone. I gave that wonderfully gripping book 4 stars for the great entertainment and small problems I found. Shadow and Bone was awesome so I had high hopes for Siege and Storm. Instead there was a ton of angst, some dry moments, and weird pacing, but we were introduced to an amazing character (guess who). Admittedly, I may have liked Siege and Storm a teeny tiny less than S&B despite what my book review for that one said. But (you guessed right) Sturmhond’s quick wit and charm was the redeeming quality for me. Anyway, what I’m getting to is that I’ve given all Bardugo books under 5 stars despite claiming her to be a newfound favorite author of mine, so I was eager to love this book and give it a perfect rating.
– Let the SPOILERS begin. If you have NOT read the book please only read the bold text to get the important gist –
But after reading, I just could not. The way this book was executed left readers asking one question: why? Not because their favorite character was killed. (Ahem, I will always miss you Aleksander…) But rather so many conflicts, battles, and plots were tied up by loopholes. I couldn’t wrap my head around why Nikolai was able to survive when the rest of nichevo’ya combusted to nothing when the Darkling took his last breath. And Mal’s resurrection? I’ve once mentioned that the “it was all a dream” tactic was the most jaw-dropping, head-bashing twist I ever had to read but honestly the idea of resurrection is just as bad for me. It’s seldom done tastefully in books. Use of resurrection in these books, I hate to say it, warrants an immediate association to soap operas. I mean I’m happy Mal is alive and Alina at least ends up with someone but still. Sigh. All of it just doesn’t make sense and was too convenient. However, I know some people have some serious qualms about Mal being the third amplifier as well, but I can see that. Bardugo supports that well by explaining how Alina’s powers came to light (pun intended) in S&B, Mal’s special tracking abilities, and how the couple was always able to find the amplifiers so quickly.
– SPOILERS end here –
To be honest, I feel like I wouldn’t have asked “why” so often or even thought the plot was too convenient if I read this a different time-say, my Twilight phase when I was younger teenager. But since I’ve read so many exquisitely complex books in terms of plot (we’re all thinking of the same series, I bet) this ending sort of fell flat for me. However, with that being said, don’t get me wrong. This book wasn’t by any means underwhelming. There were adventures, painful betrayals, and steamy-ish romances.
There were even some heart-wrenching moments. One of them being the last Alina and the Darkling scene (don’t read too much into by what I mean as a “last” scene). The Darkling being my favorite character (sorry, Sturmhond love you too but I met the Darkling first), I was so heartbroken and maybe a tear slipped down my cheek. I wish that I could elaborate on what I mean, but I’ve already gone past my spoiler section. Man, I wish WP had a spoiler feature like GR…
For those of you that are invested in the romance in this series: there is a healthy dose of it. I mean in one of Bardugo’s interviews she mentioned she often joked with her publicist that this should be called Ruin and Racy for its steamy scenes. Since I’m not a Malina shipper, I could have cared less about their parts. I get that Mal is sweet but he’s boring and not very understanding at times. In my past reviews of the books in this trilogy, I’ve mentioned that Alina isn’t a really special protagonist either. Together, Mal and Alina’s relationship is pretty cliché, the best friends to dating couple is omnipresent in ya books. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the Nikolai/Alina flirt scenes, even though I don’t ship them. And it goes without saying that my heart couldn’t take the Darkling/Alina scenes:
“Why waste my anger on you when the fault is mine? I should have anticipated another betrayal from you, one more mad grasp at some kind of childish ideal. But I seem to be a victim of my own wishes where you are concerned.” His expression hardened. “What have you come here for, Alina?”
I answered him honestly. “I wanted to see you.”
I caught the briefest glimpse of surprise before his face shuttered again. “There are two thrones on that dais. You could see me any time you liked.”
Who cares if he’s evil? I wouldn’t mind ruling by his side, LOL.
And the scene that surprised me the most (of course, I’m exaggerating; there were other painful/beautiful parts) was this awesomeawesomeawesome Genya/David moment:
“Genya-” David tried.
“Don’t you dare.” She said. Tears welling up again. “You never looked at me twice before I was like this. Before I was broken. Now I’m just something for you to fix.”
“I know metal.” [David]
“What does that have do with anything?” Genya cried.
“I-I don’t understand half of what goes around me. I don’t get jokes or sunsets or poetry. But I know metal.” [David]
“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.” [David]
You go, David!
Overall I liked how Ruin and Rising ended; I just couldn’t get past by how it was done. Binging the Grisha trilogy was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. The hype makes perfect sense, and I’m bummed that my journey in this world is over-well not quite I still the novellas to go (but I plan to save those for later). And I’m beyond excited for Six of Crows (and insanely envious of those lucky readers that got ARCs, like how beautiful are these?). Anyway, Ruin and Rising has received a lot of mixed reactions from readers, both fans and non-fans of the world. But I recommend it to readers that have read the first two the trilogy. Despite its flaws there are plenty of enjoyable moments and there’s a clean resolution.