Oct 20, 2016

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

TitleRuin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publishing Date: June 17, 2014
Pages/Format: 422, Hardcover
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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.

Book in One Word: Surprising

Well, slap my ass and call me Judy! I went into Ruin and Rising with a lot of hesitance: I liked Shadow and Bone okay (maybe I should note that these were my pre-fantasy days), but Siege and Storm was a struggle (and, I think, one of the very, very few books I've rated less than three stars). (I'm too nice, okay?) At the time of Ruin and Rising's release I did want to read it, and there was a certain point in the book that had everyone on Goodreads flipping their shit--and I wanted to know why. But I never got around to it, and I never really expected much from it and feared that reading it would be headache inducing because I got to the point where I never really wanted to read it. (And if I don't want to read something then it's not going to go over smoothly.) I did, however, want to read Bardugo's Six of Crows--and I didn't want to be spoiled for anything that might have happened in Ruin and Rising. So I finally made myself read it, and you can color me surprised.

I liked this book. I liked it. It took me a few pages to get into it, but once I did it was going surprisingly--and swimmingly--well. I'm not saying I understood everything that was going on and that I knew who every character was, but that's beside the point. I thought I was going to have to force myself to read this and suffer through every single page, but I didn't. Despite the heaviness in the world building and all it encompasses, Ruin and Rising felt rather light--and I think that was super beneficial. It wasn't perfect, and the ending was too open-ended and quick for my tastes (also, the way the prologues and epilogues are written utterly befuddles me), but something about this still worked--at least for me--and I am pleased. (And the romance went my way, so that's an added bonus.)

This is going to be a shorter review since I don't want to go into detail about what Ruin and Rising's about (and I'd probably butcher it anyway), but this book could easily be summed up with the word surprising. Surprising because I hadn't expected to like it so much--or at all, if I'm being completely honest. Surprising because I was reminded of other characters I cared about besides just Nikolai (Siege and Storm's saving grace). Surprising because I was filled with emotions and shed a few tears over things that happened and because I was hit a bit with the Series Finale Blues. (I hate those.) Surprising because, at the end of it all, I was sad it was over--and I wanted more. Alina Starkov's journey wasn't the nicest, and it was filled with a hell of a lot of downs, but still some ups--and I'm happy that I got it to take it along with her and her friends. (Though I still don't understand the obsession with the Darkling.)

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Honestly? I might reread the whole series someday. I might like it more--and better--a second time around.
Would I purchase it? Already did, but if I hadn't I wouldn't be rushing to get it.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of high fantasy written with a sort of light eloquence, new and unique worlds, a large, eclectic cast of characters you care about, and stories that just might surprise you.

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