So over the last 6 days I’ve been reading the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. The SoC duology is one of my all time favorites, and although I tried to keep down my expectations for this one, it wasn’t easy. (I feel like I’ve been over this a million times.) Anyway, I wasn’t blown away, but after being quite disappointed after Shadow and Bone, I ended up coming from my reading marathon quite pleased. I’ll go into further detail in a bit. If you haven’t read the Grisha trilogy but are planning on doing so, now would be the time to run. This is about to get spoilery real quick. Okay, let’s get into it!
Shadow and Bone
Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? If it’s been a while since you read these books you might need one. (This is my attempt to hide the fact that I can’t quite remember what happened either. I’m reading the Goodreads summary to write this. Schh.) So basically, Alina discovers she has the ability to summon sunlight while saving her best friend/crush (Mal) from dying and goes with the great mysterious Darkling to the Little Palace to train with the other Grisha. Everything is great and she might have fallen in love with the Darkling a lil bit but then her very old trainer/adviser/something (think Dumbledore or Gandalf) tells her that the Darkling isn’t as nice as he seemed and she runs. On the run she meets Mal again and it turns out he liked her too (shocker) and they live happily ever after EXCEPT they need to find a fairytale stag to amplify Alina’s power and they do but she can’t kill it and there comes the Darkling and does it instead and now he can control her. Everything ends with Mal and Alina on the run, although I can’t quite remember how that all happened.
Phew, that was long. Not doing that for the other books. What bothered me about this book was how stereotypical it was. Best friend crush, newly discovered power, mysterious handsome bad guy, it had it all. I also wasn’t a fan of the romance (although when am I ever). I did like the writing and the fast paced plot. Also, Genya, the servant, had some questionable motives, but gosh I loved her and the friendship between her and Alina. In all I found the book good, but not remarkable in any way.
Siege and Storm
I liked this one a lot more than the first. Was that because of Nikolai, you might wonder. Yes, yes it was. I loved him.
“When people say impossible, they usually mean improbable.”
I mean, how can you not love him? I found Mal to be extremely possessive of Alina which bothered me. I thought they had such a great dynamic as friends but their relationship made all of that disappear, which was sad. What made this book so brilliant was how Alina’s hunger for power was portrayed. It’s unusual to see that in the protagonist but it was SO refreshing. Remember what I said about the first book being stereotypical? This totally made up for that.
“What’s infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”
How Alina became manipulating just like the Darkling towards the ending was also hella cool. I generally found Alina’s character to be awesome in this book.
Ruin and Rising
My favorite in the series. (Note how they just got better and better. Then take a moment to realize that SoC and CK were even better and just imagine the amazingness of Bardugo’s upcoming books.) Alina starts out being week from her attempt at killing herself and the Darkling by using his power. That doesn’t mean she can’t put up a show to get what she needs though. Then all her friends come together and escape the underground cathedral that they’ve been kept in though a brilliant plan and here we go with some seriously amazing minor characters. Nikolai remains my favorite of the series, but David (so Ravenclaw it hurts) is not far behind. I loved how he was clever and caring and was so important even though he didn’t always know what was going on. My favorite thing in this book was definitely the group dynamic. They were all so amazing to each other and I just really loved that. It made me smile almost as much as Nikolai and David’s lines. BUT then there is the matter of the ending.
Mal dies heroically at the hands of Alina so she can have the power to kill the Darkling. (It’s awesome and sad and I did not see it coming.) Instead of becoming more powerful though, Alina loses her power completely. (This is where “What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men” becomes an even more amazing quote.) It’s the ending we all deserved. Something completely unpredictable and tragic and generally amazing. But no. Mal obviously had to be brought back from the dead so he and Alina can live happily ever after as humans without power as Mal always wanted. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY
(Did I mention I didn’t like them as a couple?) So yeah, not a fan of that.
To sum it up
I rated the books 3, 3.5 and 4 stars, so I guess the series altogether gets a 3.5 rating. It’s strongest parts were, in my opinion, characterization and writing, which is the two factors most important to me when reading. I guess Bardugo is my kind of writer.
If you read all of this, I applaud you. It was long and badly worded, but I’m honored you decided to read anyway. Thank you.
Have you read this series? Do you agree with what I said or not at all? Discuss with me in the comments!