Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Book 3 in the Grisha trilogy
Genre: YA fantasy
I buddy read this with Ashleigh (A Frolic Through Fiction) and even though it didn’t quite go as I thought it would, I enjoyed it. 😉
Ruin and Rising was an awesome conclusion to the Grisha trilogy, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it.
The story was carried on nicely from the end of Siege and Storm, but it seemed flat to me. There was a lot of tension and suspense, but a large portion of the book was Alina and her group planning, theorizing, and/or traveling. I didn’t mind that; I probably would’ve had a bigger issue if it was really action-packed, honestly. But I feel like it was a bit unrealistic for so little to really go down, if that makes sense. On the bright side, though, all of that allowed for a lot of character development and I started to like everyone a lot more. 🙂
There were a lot of characters in the story, but the main was Alina. She grew a lot in this book; I could tell she was more confident and daring, but she was still doubtful and desperate too. She was desperate to defeat the Darkling and daring enough to give it her all, but doubtful that her power and her forces would overpower his own. (Wow, that was a lot of “d” XD ) One of the things that I really liked about Alina while I read was that even though she let greed get to her head in Siege and Storm, she fixed that in this book. She was determined to get things done but she was much more considerate, in my opinion, and she was okay with being plain. As the Sun Summoner, she could’ve been demanding and want someone to wait on her hand and foot. Instead she did things for herself as much as possible and was completely fine with the rough work she went through.
I liked Mal a lot more in this book. He stopped being so stuck-up and whiny, and he realized Alina’s power was a part of her that he had to accept. Granted, in the beginning he was still kind of stiff, per se, because he felt more for Alina than she did for him, but that was remedied as the story progressed. He also became considerably more important to the grand scheme of things, and more accepting of the Grisha as a whole. This Mal was so much better than Siege and Storm Mal. 😀
Then there’s the Darkling. I’m not sure where to start with him, haha. He became a lot more complex and powerful in this book, and he started acting on it. There’s so many layers to him and somewhere between ½ and ¾ of the book I finally understood why people think of him as such a lovable antagonist. He’s evil and so are his motives, but I discovered a lot about him and just couldn’t hate him as passionately as I had before. In the very end, I was just starting to like him, and I liked him enough to be touched by his fate.
Finally there’s Nikolai. I think he’s my favorite male lead in this series, although I didn’t feel that way until his appearance in this book. He’s just awesome. He’s cocky and sassy but also kind of sly and definitely a big goofball. He was Alina’s strongest ally and one of her closest friends. I don’t think there’s anything you can dislike about Nikolai; he’s like the princely cross between Finnick from The Hunger Games and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles. Basically, he’s just epic. 😀 (and what happened to him killed me, seriously – I still didn’t cry though XD )
I loved all of the side characters too. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to make this too long, but they were all really strong, supportive, and awesome. My favorites were the twins, Zoya, and Genya. 😀
Ravka was just as magnificent as it was in the previous two books. I loved every part of it and all of the details that were given. It’s one of my favorite fictional worlds, up there with Erilea/Terrasen and the wizarding world. ❤ (For some reason I have trouble with this section…)
A lot of friendships were formed and strengthened throughout this book. They were fun to read about and I really liked them all. I think the friendships and friendly banter was one of my favorite parts. Alina and Zoya really developed their friendship and I was glad that they finally decided to work together rather than not. Also, Zoya was a large contributor to said banter. XD
Two new *minor* romances blossomed over the course of the story and I love both of them. Both couples work really well together and one is two girls. I was super excited to see that, because even though it wasn’t plainly said, it was clearly there if you think about it. Also, this was the first gay couple I’ve heard of in a fantasy, aside from Simon and Baz from Carry On. 😀
As for major romance, there was a bit of a love square going on between Alina and the three male leads. In Shadow and Bone, I hoped for Mal and Alina. In Siege and Storm, I didn’t like any of the options. In this book, I hoped for Nikolai and Alina. And while I’m not against the final pairing, I would’ve preferred Alina and Nikolai. I think they just complement each other best (all three do in the end, but he was most preferable to me).
The first twist was only a couple of chapters in, but the first major one was just short of the halfway point. After that, it was a fairly crazy ride. I didn’t see any of it coming, especially not the big events in the very end. They were all entertaining and surprising, but the last few were the most unsatisfying for me because they didn’t seem realistic.
other things I liked
The epilogue was cute, even if it wasn’t my favorite couple. It wrapped all of the twists up nicely, and ended the trilogy on a bittersweet note. 🙂
Ruin and Rising was a great, entertaining finale to the trilogy, but unfortunately I found the plot a little too flat and the ending a little too unrealistic.
my rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Two of my favorite quotes:
“First vomit, then tears,” Nikolai said, coming up beside me. “Don’t tell me I’ve lost my touch.” Nikolai’s humor at its finest.
In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach. Very thought-provoking.
Have you read this? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? Feel free to tell me in the comments! (just don’t spoil anything) 🙂
I’ll be progressing more in Redwall next, and then starting a new book! I just haven’t decided which one yet. XD