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Review: Ruin and Rising

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Title:Ruin and Rising

Author:Leigh Bardugo

Series:Book 3

Rating★ ★ ★ ★ 

Note:Review for Book 1 and Book 2.

Synopsis

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.

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Alina was more desperate and obsessed than ever before. She had a bit of tunnel vision.

Mal was very bitter and cold in this one. I just felt like he wasn’t trying anymore.

Darkling was more desperate in this book and more willing to hurt others to get what he wanted. I also felt like he was more real and honest in this one, especially with Alina.

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Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination. 

In the final book of the Grisha trilogy, the relationship between Alina and Mal is still strained. The beginning is reminiscent of my experience with the second book, which was not great. In the previous book, things moved very quickly and then the story seemed to slow down. It also felt kind of boring for a stretch when Alina in Mal were out at sea. In Ruin and Rising, Alina and her friends spent a good chunk of the beginning trapped underground.

The story felt very slow for a while because of them all being kept separate and constantly watched. It definitely felt stagnant for a good while, even though we got the feeling that our little rebels weren’t just sitting on their hands.

The relationship between Alina and Mal continued to grow apart. It was especially frustrating because at least in Siege and Storm we felt the sparks whenever Mal and Alina would argue; we still saw the embers even if the fire was dying. Mal seemed to just wink out in this book. He was also very closed off and he didn’t really try anymore. Alina also didn’t present to open up anymore. They both almost seemed to have given up. Although Mal was still willing to protect her, help her, and give everything up for her Mal just didn’t try very hard to get her back romantically. As someone who enjoys romance, this series was very frustrating for me.

Like the last book, I had an issue with the pacing. A good part of this book was more about character development than plot development. There was a lot of time spent exploring Alina’s thirst for power as well as her relationship with the Darkling.

I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine. 

Looking at Alina and the Darkling was a little like looking at a before and after. I felt like I could see what the Darkling might have been before he lost his way and what Alina could have become without Mal and her friends keeping her (somewhat) in check. I also liked the connection between them. Despite being enemies, they were both the only ones who would really understand one another.

Although I think the plot twist came really late in the series/book, I think it was exactly what the book needed. It flipped everything that Alina thought upside down. It shook her up enough that we were able to see more of the old Alina than we’d seen in a while.

The ending of the book was everything for me. With how I felt about the characters I was not expecting it to hit me so hard. I was really emotional about it even though looking back I shouldn’t have been. I rarely cry over books so it really caught me off guard. There was just something about the irony of Alina getting what she wanted, plus the loss she and Mal went through that tugged at my heart. Not to mention the kindness that her friends showed her at the end of the book to let her know she’d always be one of them.

While this may not have been my favorite series and I didn’t connect to the characters/story the way I did with the Six of Crows series, I did like knowing more about the Grishaverse. I think if you enjoyed the intensity and complexity in Six of Crows, this series may not be for you, but I would still give a chance. The first book pretty much sets the tone for the entire series so if you want to give it a try, read Shadow and Bone and that will tell you if you’ll enjoy the rest of it.

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What did you think of the ending of this series?

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