Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

"I am not ruined. I am ruination."

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

"'You might make me a better man.' 'And you might make me a monster.'"

"'Despise your heart' . . . 'What's the other part?' 'I have no heart.'"

I toyed back and forth with giving this one 4 stars, but although it was good, I didn't think it was 4-star quality. So I'll settle for 3.5.

As a series, the Grisha trilogy is a fun ride (even though I do not feel it's written as well as Six of Crows, but that's pardonable because Bardugo wrote this series first). Throughout the series, Alina has to grapple with who she is and constantly decide not to embrace the darkness. Even though this is fantasy, and most people don't wield sunlight, I do think that struggling against your nature and your desires is very relatable, and I liked that about Alina.

Also, the Darkling... Be still my heart. Once again, Leigh Bardugo is stellar at creating villains that you love to hate and hate to love. One minute, you're shipping Alina and the Darkling hard core and the chemistry is electric, the next minute you want someone to assassinate him ASAP. That's talent. The Darkling is well-developed, so that the more you get to know his back story, the more you ache for him and want him to find redemption.

But, love triangles! (Or more like a love square...is that what you call it when there's 3 guys going after 1 girl?) Gracious. How many eligible bachelors must we include in this story? I feel like that trope is overdone, and it makes me feel really bad for the male characters. They don't deserve the confusing emotions of the female main character. If there was ever a love triangle with 1 male and 2 females, we'd call the guy shallow and and a jerk if he flirted with both girls. It's really a double standard.

It's also annoying that Mal and Alina always seem to be fighting. Perhaps that's the norm for teenage relationships, but it's a nuisance.

I liked that the characters have to overcome their personal struggles and sufferings, even the ones that seemed perfect like Genya. I love what David tells her: "Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what's inside? That's steel. It's brave and unbreakable. And it doesn't need fixing." True beauty and strength often comes through suffering, and that's a message I completely support.

And the ending! I don't want to give anything away, but I felt it was perfect and I had my doubts whether it would meet my expectations up to the last few chapters.

Despite the fact that some of the plot/characters were cliche, I think that overall, it was a worthwhile read.

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