Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957Genre: 

Young Adult, sales  Fantasy

Pages: 

417

Part of a Series?:

The finale book in the Grisha Trilogy

Release Date: 

June 17th, stuff 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble (Exclusive Edition)

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, diagnosis 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.

My Review:

While this review will not contain any spoilers from Ruin and Rising, I cannot guarantee there will not be spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. 

Dear Ms. Leigh Bardugo,

I have been waiting over a year for this book to come out. When I first read Shadow and Bone, I could not believe that such a book could even exist. It was a beautiful blend of fantasy, power, politics, romance and so much awesome. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Siege and Storm and that book blew my mind anymore.

When I headed out to your release event for Ruin and Rising, I had high hopes, dreams, expectations, apprehension, and so much more when I picked up my copy. I’ve read finale books in series recently that have been disappointing, have left me wanting more. I had high faith in you, Ms Bardugo. I believed that you could do this.

I got home, wanting to crack up the book right away but you threw such an awesome launch party that I immediately crawled up into my comfy bed and went to sleep. When I awoke the next month, I immediately reached for my book and spent the next few hours wrapped up in the world of Grisha and Ravka.

The first thing I thought of when I finished the novel was, wow. The second thing was…this is how you finish a trilogy or a series. This is exactly the kind of feeling that I want to be left with when I finish a series that means as much to me as this one does. I felt sad, and happy and bittersweet and overwhelmed but satisfied. I was so utterly and perfectly satisfied with the way that this series ended. It literally could not have gone any different than it went.

What you did right was this: you wrote the ending that we both wanted and didn’t. There were things that I wanted so badly and it happened and it made me happy. There were things that happened that I wanted to curse at, but felt right in the story. You knew how to make the right sacrifices, knew each direction that the characters were going in. Each ending felt right, perfect. Nothing felt forced. It seemed like the natural ending for each person. It made sense. I was happy for some, heartbroken for other but I was so satisfied.

Did I mention how incredible you are at writing fantasy? It blows my mind how you can create this beautiful, complicated world and make it feel so real and so addicting. Every moment in Ravka is important to me, and everything feels like its this whole different world. That’s the beauty of really great fantasy. You believe it. There’s nothing about it that feels fake or forced. Ravka is real and every character in this book is so real. I care so much about all of them. You’re an incredible writer. I could only hope to write like you one day. You are such an inspiration.

You can write action, you can write tension, you write beautiful romance, and you write politics and you write scary scenes and you do it all so well. All of these weave so well together into 400 pages of pure awesome.

Basically, thank you. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for the entire series. It is incredible from the very first page to the very last page. All three books make so much sense together, flow perfectly, and tell a beautiful story. You left us with an epic cliffhanger in Siege and Storm and brought us in, answered our questions, wrapped up our story, and left this reader feeling incredibly satisfied. Its hard to let go of these characters but I’m anxious for anything and everything you write in the future because if they are even a fragment of what the Grisha Trilogy, and Ruin and Rising is, I know they are going to be epic.

Sincerely,

One Super Stoked and Happy Reader :)

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising Launch Party at The Last Bookstore!

I’m just going to start off by saying this: Leigh Bardugo and her friends really know how to throw a party. A launch party that is.

The first “real” launch party that I ever attended was Leigh’s last year for the middle book of the Grisha trilogy series, treat Siege and Storm. It was a total blast so when Leigh told me about her party back at the Festival of Books, ambulance I knew that this was something that I could not miss.

I met up with my friends Sylvia and Alex, and we ate some delicious pizza and Slurpees that were literally perfect for the moment. We then drove to pick up my friend Cassandra and made our way to The Last Bookstore.

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If you’ve never been to The Last Bookstore in LA before, its an incredible place to go. There are books everywhere, and rooms that are like mazes, and tunnels and really cool doors and its just beautiful. Its one of the most beautiful bookstores I’ve ever seen. Leigh could not have picked a better place to launch her final novel in the Grisha trilogy.

There was lots of food to eat, and drinks too called “The Ruin” and “The Rising.” They were delicious, both the non-alcoholic ones and the ones with a kick ;)

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The decorations were SUPER awesome. The entire bookstore was transformed to celebrate the series, and I just wanted to take pictures of everything.

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The first pages of Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising

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Leigh was introduced, in such a lovely way, and talked to us for a bit. She never fails to both make me laugh and inspire me. She read a bit from a diary that she had when she was about ten years old, and it was SO funny. Then she went through the basic plot line of Labyrinth. Yes, the David Bowie Labyrinth. It was, and has remained, a favorite movie of hers and she talks about why that is. We reach this pivotal moment of the film, where it goes from being a children’s movie to something a bit more, and she believes that it is YA. She talks passionately about YA, about reading it and writing it, and it was just plain beautiful. Leigh is incredibly inspiring.

She also read a very small bit of the beginning of Ruin and Rising, and then we all were dismissed for food, drinks and fun…oh and signing too.

My friends and I immediately departed for the photobooth. I had a TON of fun with it last year, and I was eager to get back into it again, with some of my most awesome friends :)

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I also had the guts to get into the booth by myself this time. I SO would not have done that a year ago!

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They also had a manicure station as well, but I’m a compulsive nail biter and I tend to stay away from that haha.

We finally decided to get in line to meet Leigh and it was a great time, as always. We talked a bit, and I told her I would see her in Vegas next week for the Fierce Reads stop and she signed my copy of Ruin and Rising. We also got lots of swag, which is always good. I love getting my hands on more bags, and bookmarks and pins.

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And I got my special launch party edition sticker too, which my Siege and Storm has, and was MUCH needed for my Ruin and Rising.

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As we were saying goodbye to everyone, and leaving the venue, there were two guys manning the front security desk. We had asked them early if there was a way to get our hands on the giant posters, the ones that I posted earlier, that had the first pages of each novel of Grisha trilogy. We were told that we couldn’t have them, because they were needed the next day at Leigh’s event down in San Diego. I know I was disappointed but it was okay. As we were leaving though, the two guys flagged us down and handed the posters over, making us SO incredibly happy. We ran back into the bookstore and made sure to get these posters signed by Leigh!

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All in all, it was a great night, full of a TON of fun, especially the book kind, which is my favorite :) It is always a blast hanging out with my friends and meet new ones, and to see Leigh Bardugo again. She’s brilliant, hilarious and inspiring.

I definitely can’t wait for more launch parties for Leigh in the future!

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Oh! I also got to talk to Leigh’s mom again, who remembered me from the last launch party, and a picture was totally necessary. I even put them back to back so you could see. What a sweetheart and so proud of her daughter. I love it!

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I have finished Ruin and Rising already so watch out for a review coming VERY VERY soon!

Happy Reading everyone!

Book of the Week Part Two-Seige and Storm

Oh you read that right, sickness I’m doing TWO Book of the Week reviews in ONE week.

I know, crazy, right? Its totally outside the box, breaking the rules. I’m such a rebel, you can’t handle how off the charts awesome I am right now.

So basically the plan had been to do the Book of the Week post on Siege and Storm and then do an episode of Sara’s Quick Picks on The Moon and More, and a couple other books I had read. However, I did not finish Siege and Storm in time for the Book of the Week, which is always (mostly) posted on Thursdays, therefore I did a review on The  Moon and More.

Well I stayed up til 2 am to finish Siege and Storm tonight (yeah, its nearly 4 am while I’m writing this. Yay, insomnia!) and it was absolutely positively brilliant and I’m still kind of recovering from it and I decided I would write a review for it while it was fresh in my mind.

I mean, I could write it for the Book of the Week on Thursday BUT it won’t be as fresh in my mind as it is RIGHT NOW. So this week, you’re all treated to TWO book reviews in one week. How crazy for you guys.

I just want to warn you, since this is a sequel, there will be spoilers to Shadow and Bone in this review. There are very, very minimal to zero spoilers for Siege and Storm but in order to talk about this book, I have to spoil things from the first book. I’m warning you now, don’t read this review if you haven’t read the first book.

Whew, got that out of the way. Now enjoy the Book of the Week, Part Two!

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

original

Genre:
young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?:
yes, it is the second book of the Grisha trilogy, preceded by Shadow and Bone, and followed by Rune and Rising, out in 2014

You May Like if You Liked:
anything by Tamora Pierce, the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson

Plot Summary: 

Siege and Storm picks up where Shadow and Bone has left off: with Alina and Mal on the run from the Darkling, trying to escape into another world, to be forgotten. Alina is forced to wear a scarf to hide her new amplifier that’ll identify her in a second, and to hold back her powers because let’s face it, they are one of a kind. But Alina can’t run forever, and its not long before the Darkling catches up to her and Mal and is prepared to bring her back to Ravka so he can take over and rule it, so he can have even more power than he already has.

But soon, Alina and Mal are meeting a new friend by the name of Sturmhond, a privateer who has a bigger background than Alina and Mal are prepared for. Suddenly, Alina is alive with new purpose and escaping and running away. She has purpose; there are more powerful amplifiers to help her gain more power and more control, now that the Darkling has scary and impossible new powers. But the further she pushes herself into the Grisha world, trying to save Ravka, trying to gain more power, the further away she gets from Mal. She has to choose whether to keep going in order to save her country or pull back to be with the person she loves.

The Bad:

I have literally nothing to say. I mean, usually, even if I absolutely adore the book, there’s always something kind of nit picky that bugged me but I can’t even think of anything. It was so insanely good. I can’t…I can’t think of anything bad. Maybe I’m on a book high right now and its impossible to get down so I can’t think of anything but its just left me going WHAT THE HELL, and I can’t…too much book happiness right now. I guess the only bad thing I can think of was that it left on kind of a cliffhanger, with SO much hanging in the balance, and I have to wait until 2014 for Rune and Rising. And I’m so bad at waiting.

The Good: 

There is SO much good in this novel, I can’t even begin to start to talk about it. This book held my captivated the entire time that I read it. Alina…is such an interesting character. She’s so real and raw, and such a strong female character. I love that she’s so addicted to her power. I love that the power of it, the strength it gives her, the command that it gives her, just the sheer feeling of pure power it gives her, is so addicting to her, its something that she can’t stop fighting for. She already has an incredibly strong amplifier but she’s not satisfied until she searches for others to make herself even stronger. And I do believe that is in part to be able to be on the same page as the Darkling, who has gained IMMENSE powers since she was on the run. But I also think a HUGE part of it comes from the fact that she feeds off the power, just as the Darkling does, even though she doesn’t want to admit it.

I also like the relationship dynamic in this book. There’s enough romance and kissing in this book to satisfy everyone but it doesn’t distract from the main story, it weaves in and is a major aspect of it without turning the book into a lovey dovey mushy mess. And you’ve got kind of a love…I don’t know, square? Pyramid? A slightly bigger love triangle going on? And I don’t even mind it. Because you have three people fighting for Alina for different reasons…and even though I was so strongly Mal since Shadow and Bone…I find myself rooting for the other two that are so interested in her as well, because all three of them have their perks, their values, and they all can do something for Alina, as she can do something for them. Because its not all about love, you know? Its not like, oh god Alina is the most beautiful person ever and all the boys just LOVE her. She’s powerful, she’s the Sun Summoner, and the people of Ravka worship her, and so some of these desires come from her powers and abilities or from political strategies. I love that. I can’t decide who I like the best because it all just fits and makes sense to me.

Which leads me into the other characters in the novel: all of them who are so built, so complex, so filled out. The thing with fantasy novels is that you tend to get a TON of characters involved; it just comes with the territory of building this new, fictional world. And sometimes you can get SO confused with all these characters, and sometimes there are so many that they just aren’t flushed out well enough, they just don’t have distinct personalities. Even the smallest of characters should have a defining personality. Even if you only see them for one scene, that scene will tell you something of their personality enough to recognize them. And Leigh accomplishes that completely with all her characters. Even the smallest characters, such as Nadia’s brother, have a personality and you’re able to recognize who they are, easily, without the reminder of who they are. I love that she can briefly mention a character and you remember who they are because they were established so well previously. Like I said, so many fantasy novels just fail to do this.

Speaking of fantasy worlds, Leigh creates an amazing, believable, well thought out world. Another issue with fantasy novels is that authors tend to kind of…make up things as they go along sometimes. Like, they don’t full flesh out their world, whether it be customs or culture or religion or just the locations of different places but there isn’t a problem in the SLIGHTEST in this book. Ravka, and the surrounding countries, and their ways, their towns, people, cultures, religion, etc. come so naturally as if it were all real. It reminds me of Tortall or the Fells, in Tamora Pierce or Cinda Williams Chima books because these places feel so real. I feel as if you were to ask Leigh a question about her fictional world, she would have an answer because she’s thought about it, she’s given it life. Its not just a fictional world in paper but its a real world to Alina and Mal and the Darkling and the readers. I don’t question anything about the world because it feels SO real. Everything comes so naturally and there isn’t anything forced.

One last thing, I loved the additional characters added to this novel, especially Sturmhond, who we find out is someone super important. I’m not going to reveal anything because that would just be plain mean, but let’s just say, I did NOT see that one coming. I love him a lot because he brings the humor, the sarcastic, cocky, okay I’ll say it-SEXINESS, to the book. You guys know me, I love those kind of characters (Han Solo, Sirius Black, Jace Wayland, etc) and I was so excited when I started to get to know Sturmhond. And I developed a crush on him ultra fast. Plus…once you figure out his secrets and his motivations, he becomes a complex character, despite his charms and his cockiness and his good looking face. There’s so much more to him, and I’m really hoping he appears in the third book because I’m interested in seeing where Leigh is going to take him.

I am SO not looking forward to waiting until 2014 though :(

Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars. Its hard to get that but it earned it, completely.

Recommended or Not?

HELL YES. Honestly, if you’re a reader and you love young adult literature and you love the fantasy aspect that has been blowing up, this is a series for you. Even if you’re a fantasy lover period, and not into YA, you should still read it. Just read it. Leigh Bardugo has created a masterpiece in this series so far, and I’m going to be WAY too anxious waiting for Rune and Rising next year!

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If you liked this review, you should check out previous Book of the Week reviews as well :)

If you missed out on my recap of Leigh Bardugo‘s book release party for Siege and Storm, check it out HERE.

Also, if you’re a fan of Leigh Bardugo and her books, you might also like Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima. 

My Fandom Friday post yesterday as ALL about Tamora Pierce and her YA fantasy novels, so check that out HERE.

And come back later for a post about Cinda Williams Chima and an exclusive interview!