Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo   

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: Kindle edition, 2014 by Orion Children’s Books (first published 2014)

Pages: 369

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. 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 Alina 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 – but claiming it could cost Alina the very future she is fighting for.

The final book in the Grishaverse trilogy was, unfortunately, a little disappointing. While I liked the book, it didn’t pull me in, not in the same way the first two books did.

There were too many inner monologues for Alina that just felt repetitive. Her thoughts and emotions could have been written better in places. Elsewhere, the writing was good though, and I continued to enjoy the world building. I thought it was interesting how Alina was viewed as a Saint. It’s not something I’ve really seen in fantasy before, but totally makes sense for someone with ‘magic’ to be viewed that way by some people.

Bardugo is pretty mean to her characters in this book, things rarely go the ‘heroes’ way, which I liked. It showed how the characters had to keep getting back up and fight mentally to keep persevering. Though Bardugo seemed to be taking this book in a dark direction, it somehow ended up being too soft in the end, which I don’t mind, except the lead up led me to think it was going a different way. Like the author wanted to take it in a darker direction at the end, but dipped their toes in and decided to back out. Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe she wanted a touch of darkness, but was always going to end it in a less dark way. The fairy tale framing does suggest there would be a happy ending of sorts.

There were some surprising twists and exciting scenes, but between those I wasn’t hooked. One of the twists also came totally out of the blue, a bit too much so. It was a bit of a stretch. But I liked how it took the last quarter of the book in a different direction to what I was expecting. It certainly wasn’t predictable. Though at times it was very simple. There weren’t any subplots or complexities outside of the main thread.

There was a lot of build up to the ‘final battle’ but then it seemed to be over very quickly. There could have been a lot more tension and emotion in the battle. If it had been developed more, it would have had more impact.

One thing I disliked is how one of the character’s deaths was dealt with. A secondary character dies in the ‘final battle’, but it’s sort of randomly mentioned afterwards in a totally detached way. Alina doesn’t even seem upset, yet she is totally distraught by deaths of other secondary characters in the trilogy. This character’s death was totally skimmed over, almost like an afterthought – ‘oh by the way and this character died in that battle’. It seemed like the character was killed off just to tick the box, since it’s unrealistic for everyone to survive. I thought that character’s death was handled badly.

This book was disappointing compared to books one and two. It just seemed to lack the spark the first two had. I did like the epilogue though, it was satisfying. I’m glad I finished the series and would pick up another of Bardugo’s books in future even though I didn’t love this book as much as the others.

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