Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy #3) / My rating: ★★★★1/2
One sentence summary: Sun Summoner, “Saint” Alina wants to find the third and final amplifier to maximize her power and finally put an end to the Darkling.
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Plot: Ruin and Rising is the last book in the Grisha Trilogy, and I thought it did a great job of wrapping up the series and providing those surprising twists and turns that come with the climax of a multi-part series. I really, really enjoyed the plot of this book, so much so that I ended up reading the second half of the book in one night. It was steady and full of action, and while the first two books I found to be a bit more predictable, Ruin and Rising threw in some plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I really liked the first two, but I loved this last book. My only real criticism is that I felt the ending was a bit too neat in clean.
Characters: Honestly, I would die for Nikolai Lantslov. He is WONDERFUL, and funny, and brave and such a solid character. He is the star of the series for me. My favorite character, however, is still Genya, and I loved getting to see more of her again after she was largely absent from the second book, and I loved the strength and power of her character and vibrancy of her personality. David, as well, was brilliant and funny, and I loved getting to know him through the series. I also really enjoyed getting to know some lesser known characters, such as Zoya, who was hilarious and poisonously delightful. These books are dark, but the characters are hilarious.
And at this point in the series I felt as if I’d finally gotten to know these characters, much like Alina did, and it raised the stakes so much higher for their potential deaths. And of course there’s Mal, sweet Mal, who I enjoyed reading before, but who I grew to love so much in this book. While Nikolai is the star of the series, Mal is the star of Ruin and Rising for me. His relationship with Alina throughout the trilogy was rocky, but I really enjoyed their friendship and their romance. I loved Alina herself as well, and I loved the progression of her character throughout the series, her battles with dark and light, right and wrong and greed and where real power truly lies. I loved the contrasts between her choices, her actions and her inner thoughts, that the line between good and bad was so blurred, and in the end the differences between what she wanted, what she needed, and how she acted made all the difference. And of course, the Darkling, who I still feel I could have used more background info for, maybe a story from his past so I felt a bit more sympathy for him, but by the end I really appreciated his character and simply just wanted more of something from him. He was so heavily present in the first book, I think I felt as if it didn’t weigh as equally with the last two. Still, I enjoyed his darkness and his ruthlessness and his complexity, I just think I could have used a little bit more from him.
Writing: I love Bardugo’s writing. It’s lovely and smooth and wonderful to read. She told her story so well.
Was I satisfied? Mostly! So close! I loved this book and really, really enjoyed reading it, but in addition to wanting just a little bit more from the Darkling’s character, I also had a small tiff with the way the book ended. I did appreciate the ending, but I do think it could have been a bit…less neat.
SPOILER ALERT below because I have want to specify….scroll down if you’ve read it/want to be spoiled…….
I was happy Mal lived. I didn’t want him to die. I love Mal. But I sort of also wanted him to die for the sake of the power of the story, and was slightly disappointed when he was brought back to life. The ending almost felt too neat because of it. I know there were casualties, but no one I really deeply cared about died (ex. Genya, David, even Tamar or Toyla or Zoya…). And I really wouldn’t have minded if Alina ended up with Nikolai, for companionship if nothing else. I still loved the epilogue; it’s a relief to see Alina get happiness and peace, and it makes sense that Mal could be brought back to life because of his two separate lives as amplifier and as just Mal, but I think the story would have been more powerful and raw and real if Mal had truly died and Alina didn’t get such a “lovely” ending.