Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
|Book Name:||Ruin and Rising|
|Publisher(s):||Henry Holt and Co. (US) Indigo (UK)|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook|
|Release Date:||June 17, 2014 (US) Jun 19, 2014 (UK)|
The YA trilogy that started with Shadow and Bone concludes with Ruin and Rising – with quite a few unhappy readers. Apparently, the uproar is over a relationship that didn’t pan out. You can’t please everyone, obviously, but the process did keep you guessing until the very end. After all, isn’t that what contributes to a good story, one that is unpredictable in the both the journey and the ending?
Ruin and Rising picks up soon after Siege and Storm with Alina weakened and under the mercy of the Apparat. She is isolated and barred from her friends in the name of protection. Hidden far beneath the strengthening rays of the sun, her recovery is questionable. The Darkling has gained control of Ravka along with some terrifying new powers. His connection with Alina is deepened even further as their power links them together, alienating them both from those around them. The hope for a Ravkan prince that may or may not be alive hangs by a thread. Less than a handful of people know the possible whereabouts of the firebird, the third amplifier that will augment Alina’s powers of a Sun Summoner enough to defeat the Darkling, hopefully. As Alina and Mal attempt to gather their friends and allies together, they are stunned by betrayals, ultimate sacrifices, and forced to choose from few and less-than-pleasant options.
I can’t really say that I enjoyed this book more than the previous two. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, with still new ones being introduced and the respective roles they each had to play. I would have liked more Alina/Darkling and Alina/Nikolai scenes to deepen their relationship dynamics, so that when conflicts arise and tragedies strike, the impact is all that much greater. As it was, Alina’s vacillating feelings just weakened her character. Will the Darkling’s unimaginable power and Alina’s own realization of her potential be the undeniable tie that binds them together? Or will it be the handsome and charismatic Ravkan prince offering her a place by his side? Where will all this leave Mal, her childhood best friend, the one who has stood by her and loves her enough to sacrifice himself to ensure her future?
Alina’s deep bonds with Mal was well-explored early on in the series, but the Darkling’s draw and the prince’s new interest seem almost superficial, making her subsequent grief less than believable. At least this has broken the mold of the over-used love triangle. Behold, the enamored square. o.O
The pirate/privateer-turned-prince (otherwise known as Sturmhond) is still as witty and charismatic as ever. He loses a bit of his confidence but gains the quiet wisdom that comes with suffering as the Darkling’s power touches him. A better leader one cannot find who can empathize with his people.
And even though his ruthless actions may justify the cause in his own eyes, the Darkling’s history and isolation paints him in a different light than the monster persona he was initially pegged for. Time and circumstance proves its ability to transform great potential into horrifying results. The idea of evil is not so clearly black and white here.
I love the secondary character of Baghra and the fierce and unpretentious way she lives her life. Prickly, to say the least, but her devotion and regret were in such equal measure as to break your heart when her story was fully revealed.
I did enjoy all the plots twists that brought about the end. The daring escapes and unlooked for rescues always prompt a cheer as hope is revived. Happy endings are not always what we think they should look like but still manage to be right for the person intended. The conclusion was not as dramatic as some expected, but it was a thrilling adventure while it lasted and ended on a quiet, peaceful note.