Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: 17th June 2014
Summary: For Alina, time is running out. To destroy the Darkling, she needs to find the elusive firebird, and she needs to find it soon. The Darkling’s power is growing. And so is his connection to Alina. Can Alina escape the hold he has over her? Does she want to? Mal is the one person Alina can rely on in an increasingly uncertain world. But could giving in to the bond between them be the most dangerous decision of them all?
This is the final book in the well-loved Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve been on the fence with this series; it’s been enjoyable but it hasn’t blown me away. This finale was the last chance to change my opinion. I have to say, this book did improve my view ever so slightly. This is my favourite book out of the series and it provided a pleasant but sad close to the trilogy.
One of the major issues I’ve found this series is Alina Starkov. The generic, YA, main female protagonist. There are very few features that differentiate her from many other female leads. She’s another ordinary girl with a special power thrown into high society. But she has come a long way. In this book she displays more sass and bravery than she has previously which makes her more bearable to read about.
To go with our generic female, we’ve got a boring male love interest. Mal, Alina’s childhood friend, is an ok guy but struggles to appreciate Alina and her power. He does slowly come to terms with this during the series but this doesn’t make up for his previous behaviour. He’s a frustrating character to read about and I often didn’t understand why Alina was so attached to him. However, he does finally become useful in this novel.
What saved this book was the side characters. Genya, Baghra and David, to name a few. Also, The Darkling, who isn’t a side character but might as well be as he barely appears in this novel. His lack of scenes was disappointing as he is the most complex characters in the series. Yet, this book does highlight how his loneliness and desperation drives him. Even after all the dreadful deeds he’s done, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.
“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”
Another of my favourite characters is Nikolai. He’s a sassy, confident guy who I wish had been introduced earlier in the series. He provided a bit of comic relief in an otherwise dark story. I didn’t want him to suffer during this story and it was whilst reading the events he endured that I felt most upset.
It’s wonderful to see a writer grow as a series progresses and it’s clear that for Bardugo this has been the case. The events and character development in this novel are a step up from her previous books. I remember being so confused when I read the first book. It was hard to get me head around the world but it was so easy to slip back into the universe this time around.
A lot happened in this book which I didn’t see coming and there are certain things I wish had happened differently (when isn’t this the case?). I know a lot of people were disappointed with the conclusion of this series and a part of me is too. The ending was bittersweet. Overall, I’m happy with this finale even if my heart wanted something different.