Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book: Ruin and Rising (Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo

After enduring an awesome ride with the two preceding books from the Grisha Trilogy, here we come to the conclusion of it all: This is RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo.

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Blurb:
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. (via Goodreads)
I'm sure many would agree that getting to the end and closing Siege and Storm was amazingly frustrating, with all the cliffhanger and unfinished businesses. I'm just so glad that I read this in a time when all the books in the series were already published and available in the nearest bookstores. But great as it might seem, I did everything I could to muster up the courage of finishing this series because the moment I finish reading the last book -- it means I also need to say my goodbyes. And considering how attached I became to this series these past few days, it was so damn hard. Me and my feelings. Right.

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Looking back at my past reviews for this series, I noticed that I approached all of it character-wise. And in that element, this book is definitely a WIN. That was some amazing character development in there. We follow Alina, now hailed as a saint. The physical transformation was equally fitting and striking -- it mirrors so much of the things that changed ever since Alina discovered she could summon the light to this moment: how she became the face of the rebellion, redemption. Whoever thought of the white hair was genius, as it completely made her exact opposite of the Darkling - the light to his darkness.
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I love tragic things and, as such, I loved Mal in this. You know me? Gut-wrenching lines and hard sacrifices are my thing - so in this regard, this part of the story spoiled me too much. I began to like Mal in the latter part of the second book and when it came to the third and final one, he finally got my heart. Can I talk about that revelation? (Of course, not but-) Just. Woah. The way the plot transformed itself was just jaw-dropping. It took a moment to register because everything was pointing the other way when the reality was its not. I was just too caught up with everything that I did not notice.

There's the matter with Genya and her "ruination" line that was too remarkable for words that, if ever I consider to have a tattoo, was really good candidate for one. There's also Nikolai and his proposals. In a perfect world where Mal (and, okay, the Darkling) does not exist, he is a very, very good match for Alina. I do believe that a love story between the two of them has potential but I can't have the ending any other way.  I just wished Leigh did more to his character than what he got in this book.
"You were meant to be my balance, Alina. You are the only person in the world who might rule with with me, who might keep my power in check."

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But in the end, it was still the Darkling that captured my attention and feelings. I'm not sure if I already said it but I really think the heart of this series was his existence. He was such a complex character that it's hard to look away. Brilliant, brilliant characterization - it makes you want for more. What I would give for a Darkling POV chapter, because even in the end, there's too much I can't read, I can''t quite place. It haunted me, it left me wanting more - and I'm pretty sure that's as good as a character could get.
Darkling: You might make me a better man.
Alina: And you might make me a monster.
My heart broke numerous times because of him, the limited time we get to see and hear him. Most of the more striking Darkling scenes are from Alina's apparitions to the latter. They were charged with tension, and an air of loneliness and emptiness that was hard to ignore. I loved that, this time, Alina took the power-play approach to show him that he's not the only who can do that. There were glimpses of raw emotions from the Darkling, and, honestly speaking, those were the moments I loved the most. ("But i seem to be a victim of my own wishes where you are concerned.") Especially if  you've already had a look at the Darkling's back story via the story "The Demon in the Woods", your heart will break a little more for him - like mine did. It was heart-wrenching.

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Again, impressive, impressive plot and character development for the most part. Very few YA fantasy series have captured me to such extent as this one -- and I'm glad to say that this really made its mark. I should've read this a long time ago. I spared myself with awesomeness far too long and I'm glad that I stumbled upon Leigh Bardugo's work.

This book series easily landed in my 'favorites' list, not just of the year, but all time. YA these days tend to be forgettable, sadly, but this book provided something unique among its peers. Action-packed as it may seem, but the ending was.... respectful. I'm not sure if that is a legit way of describing a book ending - but it is. It was explosive but it has closure - a luxury these days. It's finished and I couldn't be more emotional over it. With rich world-building, complex and interesting characters, amazing character development and story line and plot twists that will leave you gripping your seat.... this is really worth your while!
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Ruin and Rising Reaction Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

"I don't reserve my friendship for perfect people."

"I am not ruined. I am ruination."

"It's a promise to be better than I was," he said. [...] "And I guess it's a reminder that wanting and deserving aren't the same thing."

"Suffering is cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters is what each man makes of it."

"Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay."

He watches her the way Harshaw watches fire. Like he'll never have enough of her. Like he's trying to capture what he can before she's gone.
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This is the 12th book I've read this year. This is part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

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