Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joint Review: Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Book: Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Released: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 417 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5++

From Goodreads:
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.

In the off chance you haven't read this series yet, you really, really should. Like now. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200 until you've read this series, mmmkay?

Sarah and I decided to try something new for this review (I keep saying review. It's probably more of a discussion, but whatever, I'll call it what I want). Since we both love this series so much, we've opted to do a joint review. So we hopped on Google Docs and chatted back and forth. It's long, and slightly rambley, but we had a great time!


First of all, welcome to our first ever joint review! Sarah and I are writing back and forth to each other to review this. I, Lindsay, will be writing in blue, and Sarah will be in black from hereon out. I apologize for anything ridiculous that may be said in advance. (ALSO SPOILERS ABOUND. SERIOUSLY. THERE ARE SPOILERS ALL OVER THIS REVIEW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!)

Because frankly, we're ridiculous all the time.

And our excitement for these books knows no bounds. Let’s get started.

Sarah, have you sufficiently picked yourself up off the floor? I know that your beloved Darkling was killed off. Should we refer to him as Aleksander now?

Ugh. Don't remind me! I'm utterly devastated. I think that was the worst moment in the book for me. I wanted him to redeem himself, I had hope until the very end. And yes, let's call him by his given name .. Aleksander *sigh*

I had hope for him as well. But only like 3%. Did you really think she wasn’t going to kill him off?

No! I wasn't expecting it at all. I actually teared up. It was so sad. I was truly hoping that he would have a change of heart; That once Alina had possession of the third amplifier, she could somehow convince him to be a better man. I really believed she could have changed him if she had more time.

Lindsay, What was the most shocking moment for you?

Oh that’s easy. Hands down the moment that had me sobbing and wanting to curl up in the fetal position (at 2:00 am, mind you) was when my most beloved Nikolai (a/k/a STURMHOND) was turned in to the evil dark bird thing (in transition to becoming a volcra maybe?). I was miserable. THAT WAS NOT OKAY BARDUGO. It was even worse because it was the middle of the night (on release day) and I had NO ONE TO CRY WITH. Although I did send my friend Kristina a few DMs on twitter so she could read them the next day. It still did nothing to lessen my heartbreak.

It was horrible! I love Nikolai. When he became that volcra thing, I was completely heartbroken for him.

Nikolai is so strong and always has something witty to say and at that moment you really saw him in a completely different light. He was vulnerable and it was something we haven't seen from him really.

Lindsay, what was your least favorite part of the book?

First of all, in regards to Nikolai’s snarkiness, I must include my favorite line of the book when Alina says, “Please tell me you plan to dress up as a volcra and jump out of a cake.” BECAUSE I WOULD PAY MONEY TO SEE HIM DO THIS. And I think he would actually do it too.

Yes, I laughed out loud!

Anyway, my least favorite moment is at the very end with Mal. I’ve made no secret about my dislike of Mal-who I absolutely wanted to be killed off in this book after reading Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm. (And after reading it, I have since recanted. I came around to his side. Kinda.) BUT I felt that the whole bringing him back to life thing was just a bit far-fetched. My lone theory on this is that she killed the amplifier part of him, and left his regular body/soul to be brought back. I would have been more than happy if he stayed dead. Then Alina could’ve married Nikolai, which was totally my end game. Ha. What was yours, Sarah?

I would have to say my least favorite part was also when Mal came back to life. I couldn't stand Mal in the first two books. He was so whiney. I mean, Alina had sacrificed so much and he could only focus on himself. And let me point out that he only realized he loved her after she was the Sun Summoner. (HA! It’s not just me that feels this way, Emily!) Granted, in this book he claims that he's alway loved her, but I think that's a load of crap. Anyway... Yeah. I wish he'd have stayed dead.

Nikolai is the only one who is allowed to come back. Anywho… let’s move on to some more people who are awesome. Like Baghra. Holy crap, how awesome is she? And just how much did you love her backstory?!

I was thrilled to read Baghra's backstory. It was probably my favorite part in the entire book.

When Alina first asked her how she knew so much and Baghra's ignored the question (When Mal interrupted because Genya was having a crisis with the King) was when I first realized that there had to be some relation there. At first I started to assume she was Morozova's wife but then we find out she was his daughter. I had so much sadness for her. The way she was treated by her parents was really sad to me.

I can’t even imagine having to deal with all that. And then having your son do everything that Aleksander did. No wonder she was so sassy. I also did not see it coming that she was Morozova’s daughter. She obviously knew something about the amplifiers, which made me assume there was a close connection, but I didn’t know it would be that.

AND THAT FINAL SCENE WITH HER. I CAN’T EVEN. What a story arc Bardugo created.

Right?! The part where she told Alina how she raised Aleksander was heartbreaking. She had the best intentions. She never wanted him to live in fear the way she had when she was a child. She wanted him to be strong and brave. Instead she inadvertently helped him become the monster he became.

I feel like when she jumped off the terrace, that was kind of her way of paying her  penance. She felt somewhat at fault for Aleksander becoming The Darkling and her death was her way of trying to fix it ... If you will.

One of my absolute favorite scenes, if not THE favorite, was the scene between Genya and the King. Holy moly, that was intense! I know you love Genya, so what did you think about that part in particular?

That part was amazing. I do love Genya. Her attitude is the best. When she described how she poisoned the King ... MIND BLOWN! Good for her. The King was such a sleaze bag. The Queen needed to be punched in the face. How could she turn a blind eye to something as horrible a rape? Her excuse was sickening. "She's a servant." Bleh. Nikolai's response was perfect. It made me love him even more.

Seriously. Of all the ways to poison him, that’s how you do it. Game. Set. And Match to Genya. And I was thrilled Nikolai basically stood up for her to his not-actual dad and to his mom (another great revelation I expected, but was happy to hear nonetheless).

Also on the Genya front, I loved her developing relationship with David. I’ve always loved him as a character, and I really enjoyed seeing them happy together.

Right. She totally hit the jackpot with David. Men that'll love you when you're beautiful are a dime a dozen. But a man that'll love you after you've been disfigured ... He's a keeper!

How did you feel about Mal being the third amplifier?

I really liked that twist. I always figured there was something about him, I could never put my finger on it exactly. I always suspected Alina was the descendant of Morozova, not Mal, but it still worked. And it definitely explained his ability to track the other amplifiers.

Yeah, I knew his tracking abilities were beyond amazing. But I didn't see that twist coming at all.  

Let’s talk about that Epilogue. I love me some epilogues. Especially when they take us years into the future. If I’m not going to get more books in the series, this is my favorite way to wrap them up. So Alina & Mal get their HEA. Married. No one knows who they are. They (predictably) buy the orphanage. And they maintain contact with all their BFFs (including King Nikolai). The end.

Yes. It was perfectly wrapped up like a little present. I was kind of annoyed by that. It was almost too perfect. I DID like that they ended up back at the orphanage. However, I was more interested in Nikolai and the other Grisha. I didn't really care for more Alina and Mal.

Let’s hope we get a few glimpses of them in The Dregs (SO EXCITED!!!)

Okay. Rate this book! How many stars do you give it and why?

5+. I absolutely adored this book. I will most definitely be reading it again. I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t enjoy about it-even the small issues I had with it, which aren’t many-are overshadowed by the rest of the book’s sheer awesomeness. Bardugo will definitely always be on my auto-buy list.

I agree. I give this book a 5. It was the best in the trilogy. I never once tired of it. It had me going from the first page to the last page. Even though my dearest Aleksander didn't survive (and Mal did), I still loved (almost) everything about it! Bardugo did not disappoint.

And there you have it! Our first ever joint-review. Thanks for sticking with us through all of our questions and rambley answers. Chime in below in the comments to let us know your thoughts on the book!

Hope you guys enjoyed! Maybe we'll do another one of these sometime soon.



  1. I love everything about this rambling spoiler-filled review except for the Mal bashing. Hey Team Mal fans, if you want to gush about how he is swoonworthy and adorable and how we were ugly crying when he died, I'm here for you.

    That being said I did think it was crazy that he was brought back to life even though I was happy about it. It is totally within his character for him to do something stupid and self-sacrificing to save Alina. The answer they gave is that she destroyed the amplifier part of him but my only other explanation is that she sacrificed her powers to bring him back. That was the biggest surprise for me, that she would lose her powers. What she give them all away to everyone else?

    I also totally agree about the Baghra backstory and Genya's badass moment with the king. I also was really heart-broken when Nikolai was turned into the volcra thing. I totally agree that it was the first time he was really vulnerable and couldn't save himself. He did have some great moments. I thought of all you Sturmhond shippers with that scene with the stars. It wouldn't have been so bad if Alina ended up with him (although I'm over the moon about Mal).

    I thought this was the perfect ending for the series. It wrapped things up and revealed a lot of questions from the previous book and it did it in an interesting and compelling way. There was so much action, plot twists, and great world-building. This world is one of my favorites in YA fantasy and I am so glad we get more of it in The Dregs!

    Great review ladies!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    1. Thanks Cassi! I'm glad you enjoyed our ramblings.

      I did at least come around to Mal by the end. The fact that he was accepting her the way she was *finally* is probably what made me okay with it. While I still would've like to see her with Nikolai, I liked the ending, cheese and all. ;)

    2. I will say that Mal did grow on me in this book. Did I want him and Alina to end up together? No. However, his character growth was great. I really liked to see him in a strong, leadership role.

  2. YES. I wish Mal died earlier and when he died for a while I was so freaking happy - and then she had to bring him back *sigh* It was all too cliche and convenient for me. I was okay with him in the first book, but from there on he just didn't do it for me. I wanted her to end up with Nikolai too :).

    Genya/David & Natalia/Tamar were adoraaaable :D I also love Genya. I warmed up for Zoya too and Bahra's background story was so sad and fascinating.

  3. SO HAPPY to finally find a Spoiler review! I need to know that someone felt the same way as me about the ending and especially the Darkling/Aleksander (aka the best name ever). Loved the back and forth review. A++