Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Henry Holt & Co / June 17, 2014
How Did I Get It? Bought it!
Format? Hardback

Synopsis 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.

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Just a warning: this review is going to be completely unstructured and mainly random thoughts thrown together because I can’t even control myself. But let this be my guiding statement: Ruin and Rising was the best possible ending I could have imagined for this series. The fates of the characters were appropriate, the final battle was heart-stopping and breathtaking, and the epilogue left me in tears (I think they were happy, but maybe a bit sad too because I can’t believe this is the end of this trilogy). I’ll have two sections to this review: the first completely spoiler free, and the second will be spoilers because I need to get all of these thoughts out.

Spoiler Free Review:

Allow me to begin with a gif:

I think that about covers it. Not even. My experience while reading this book was very strange. I picked it up, but couldn’t read it the second I got home. I had to sleep on it, then the next day I told myself I had to finish it by the time I went to bed. The first half I read one or two chapters at a time, alternating some blogging and other work between the segments. But then I reached the 200 page mark, and I couldn’t put the book down until I read the final page. I reached that reading place where I can’t hear anything outside of the story inside my head; my mom and sister finally stopped trying to talk to me. My heart was racing, I was gasping and laughing and crying, and I may have screamed once or twice.

As far as the story: I thought Leigh balanced the need to wrap everything up without info dumping very well. I mean, there was A LOT to divulge and sort through, but I never felt as though I was sitting through a history lesson. The legend of the amplifiers was HOLY CRAP inducing, and I didn’t see the twists coming at all as far as that aspect of it. The final battle was satisfying, yet gut-wrenching. I knew what would happen, and I knew it was necessary, but it didn’t lessen the hurt. And the epilogue… it made me feel the same way the end of the Return of the King makes me feel: nostalgic, grieving, yet hopeful. How is it that I’m nostalgic for a past that isn’t even mine?? I’ll tell you how: Leigh has written such a fantastic story that it’s become a world I live in part time and feel just as strongly as the characters.

And the characters… oh my wow. All my favorites were back, plus a few new characters that I fell head over heels for within just a hundred pages. Harshaw and Stigg were the two I most loved, and then there was Adrik and Nadia, who had been in the previous books but really expanded their roles in this story. And then of course the main cast: Alina, Mal, Nikolai, the Darkling, Zoya, Genya, David, Tolya, Tamar, and so many more. They were all so well balanced, and I didn’t ever feel as though one was dropped off or focused on too much. And they all grew so much in this book; they still had their personalities, as abrasive as some of them were, but by the end they all had that battle-worn connectedness that was really touching.

I really don’t think I can say any more before I start getting into the spoilery specifics. But if you need a sign that you should read this series, this is it. Honestly, it’s the best series conclusion I could have possibly imagined – joining the ranks of Allegiant and Ignite Me.

Spoilers/Discussion

Okay, now my summary in a gif:

I’ve got to bullet point this whole thing. And I do mean SERIOUS SPOILERS if you somehow missed that big header up there.

  • MAL IS THE FREAKING THIRD AMPLIFIER?? I screamed. I totally, completely, screamed. Out loud. Very loudly. I may have interrupted my mom’s movie. BUT WHAT THE HELL I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING AT ALL. But it all makes so much sense now! I mean, I knew there was something different about Mal, but my theories weren’t even CLOSE to the truth.
  • Oh my poor baby Nikolai. He survived – praise God – didn’t get a girl – I volunteer as tribute – and is so scarred from the Darkling’s nichevo’ya – that bastard. But at the same time he’s still that swaggering, charming, hilarious, passionate, and incredible character that I fell in love with in Siege and Storm. I wish the epilogue had addressed how he handled the throne and all the fallout from the battle, but I know he was okay in the end.
  • I don’t even know how to voice my thoughts on Alina losing her power. In a perfect world, she would have lead the Second Army and been the badass Sun Summoner with Mal at her side, but I think the two of them living as regular humans and running the orphanage was a different sort of a perfect world. But really that epilogue, when Zoya gave Alina the blue kefta and the letter – I lost it. TEARS. AND FEELS.

  • The Darkling. I know he’s so controversial, and I don’t intend to forgive/forget all of his atrocities, but I thought it was so incredible how humanized he was. It was really uncomfortable, but it was also so eye-opening to see him as a person, not just a dark figure looming in a courtroom. I also had the prequel story from the Barnes and Noble edition, but it was actually just a fully written out story of a tale told in R&R. So never fear – it’s not as though you’re missing a critical part of understanding the Darkling! And I thought his name suited him so well: Aleksander. It just fits. In the end, if we really had to classify him, I’d say he’s a sympathetic villain. Hugely, intensely sympathetic. Just a broken boy jaded by the bigotry who turned to the wrong methods to end the persecution.
  • I’d also like to make note here that Genya is a freaking warrior queen and someday I hope to achieve that level of badassery. Just slow clap it out. Seriously – every time I wear my “I am Ruination” pin I got from the Fierce Reads tour, I feel a bit more powerful, not gonna lie. I think Genya is a perfect example of how men who take advantage of women’s bodies should be handled.

Okay, I think I’ve typed myself out. Leigh: if you somehow manage to read this (FYI – still holding out for that Tolya and Tamar novella/prequel story/whole trilogy), THANK YOU for writing the flawless end to one of my all time favorite series. And you are now an auto-buy author for me.

My Final Rating:

Six stars

Weekly Recap 31 (June 15)

Well hello Sunday my old friend. I can’t believe another week has passed again! I had a mostly quiet week, after my five-day vacation from all work entirely (when the doctor is out, the whole office is out!). Wednesday was super slow, since I’d slept very little and was fighting a nasty sinus headache. But then something very, very exciting showed up on my doorstep…

Stacking the Shelves

photo-2I won a giveaway about a week ago, and I thought, noooo it’s not here yet, and the box is too small. But then I saw the return address, and it turns out it was from Miranda! She had mentioned a surprise a few weeks ago, but with my crap memory it totally slipped my mind. And then it was there and… I just… I cried. No exaggeration here. I ripped open the box, saw the tote, and just started weeping. Out of all the BEA haul posts I’ve read, the one thing I couldn’t contain my jealousy about was that Throne of Glass tote. I could forgive the Heir of Fire ARCs and the Talon ARCs, but the tote? Oh man, bad blogger envy over here. BUT THEN IT’S THERE ON MY COUNTER IN MY HANDS and I just about died ❤ Honestly, my day would have been made just by that.

After reading Miranda’s letter (cue more happy tears), I opened up the bag at her prompting and saw the books inside. Imagine more crying and squealing. First was Faking Normal, which I’d just mentioned in my Top Ten Tuesday wishlist a few weeks ago, and second was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (in hardback: I felt so special!). Both were ones I’d been dying to read, but never got around to buying/borrowing. And then I saw Since You’ve Been Gone, and I’ll admit I was confused. Miranda knew I had run out to buy my copy the first day it was released, but then I read the letter again (see – tears make you skip lines!) and saw a post it in the inner cover, opened it, and *hallelujah chorus*

photo-3Signed and personalized 😀 Insert more fangirling and squealing here. So while I may have two copies now, I DON’T CARE BECAUSE THIS ONE IS SPECIAL.

Thankyouthankyouthankyou a million times over to Miranda for this amazing birthday gift. I wish I could express it better or give you a hug or something but I guess this will have to do!

Seriously, you guys are making this a birthday month rather than just one day – I just feel so special!

And then yesterday I shamelessly capitalized on Barnes and Noble’s habit of putting books on shelves early and… *drumroll please*

photo-2At first I walked in and couldn’t find it, and was a wee bit devastated (never mind the fact that I was expecting a book four days before it’s technically released). But then I saw the paperback of Siege and Storm, and a bunch of other books that I know aren’t released till the 17th as well. So I may have almost pulled a belligerent customer moment and nearly asked someone to go in the back because I knew they’d be there and YOU CANNOT HIDE THIS BOOK FROM ME. Almost. I mean, I contemplated it.

Luckily, I didn’t have to experience what it was like to be escorted out of a bookstore, because I rounded the corner and it was like the heavens parted and angels started singing. And there it was! So now I’m able to read it before I go to the Fierce Reads tour on Tuesday!

In other news…

  • My car broke down. Again. I should now what’s wrong with it tomorrow, but until then my mom and I are stuck with trading her car back and forth. Now… I drive a VW Bug. She drives a Kia Sedona. Her car is like three times as long as mine, and it’s a V6 engine. Sooooo it’s taking me a while to get used to its size and power. I suck at parking in the first place, but now it’s three times as hard. As for turning? Well… I’m so sorry mom I may have run over a curb or two. So hopefully I’ll have my car back by Tuesday morning so I can drive my little Fiona to the Fierce Reads tour!

In case you missed it, last week I…

What’s coming up this week?

  • Monday – Review of Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
  • Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer TBR (we’ll see if I actually stick with it this time)
  • Wednesday – Saturated Reads: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • Thursday – Discussion of… something!
  • Friday – Review of Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Hope you all have a good week!

Weekly Update 14 (February 16)

Hello all! Hope you had a wonderful week; mine was strange, and had some way lows but some great highs as well. I have news: I didn’t buy a single book this week. I KNOW. I restrained myself. I’m still trying to finish all the books that I recently bought, won, or was gifted. My shelves are filled to bursting!

I finish the Archived on Tuesday, and since then I’ve been on a HUGE Mortal Instruments kick. I’m re-reading City of Bones for the third time over, since I keep forgetting what happened in the series and have to start again each time. Because I’m pathetic, and this is my fourth time trying to start the series. BUT I SWEAR THIS TIME I WILL COMMIT. I will not stop reading until I have closed the last page of City of Lost Souls, and am fully prepared for City of Heavenly Fire. I will be crying with you all; pass around the feels tissues. Oh and then I think I’ll go straight into The Infernal Devices series, because I love to torture myself and everyone says Clockwork Princess is the most painful thing known to man.

photo-2

Basically my reading pile for the next few days/weeks

Oh and say hi to my lovely reading angel. She’s so pretty ❤

Heyyy you know what else is happening in the next few weeks? CATCHING FIRE IS RELEASING ON DVD/BLURAY. I will be at Target the day it’s released, because I need to put it on repeat and watch it so many times that I get sick of it. Hint: that won’t happen. CF was my favorite book, and I loved how dedicated they were to the original storyline.

And now I hope they change everything about the second half of Mockingjay, except for the resolution of the love triangle. That can stay.

One last thing: happy belated Valentine’s day to you all! Single, married, partnered – whatever you are, I hope you had a great day ❤ I know I did: my coworker made tiny little bundt cakes (like smaller than my fist – and I have child hands), and we at those at like 9am. Perfect breakfast, right? Then we munched on the Dove chocolates that had been set out for the patients (shhh!) for the rest of the day. I’d gone to chocolate heaven!

I lied: this is truly my last thing. BUT HAVE YOU SEEN THE COVER FOR RUIN AND RISING?? I AM DEAD SOMEONE COME SCRAPE MY REMAINS OFF THE COUCH.

*tries to breath* Nope not working *dies*

If you missed it, this week I shared:

This week I’m going to participate in TTT, review These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman, throw a discussion in there somewhere (haven’t settled on my topic yet), and review The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. ALSO! I’m going to be starting a new feature here on the blog, so keep an eye out for that. If I have time this week, I’ll throw it in there, but for sure I’ll have it up within the next two or three weeks 🙂

And now I have a question(s) for you: do you prefer The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices? Out of the TMI series, which is your favorite book? Is Clockwork Princess going to completely destroy me? How was your Valentine’s day? DID YOU SEE THE RUIN AND RISING COVER??? 

On a serious note, you all should really check out Chantelle’s post here; it’s a great reminder to just enjoy blogging, and not worry about all the little details that supposedly make you “better”!

Top Ten Tuesday: Looking forward to 2014

TTT BannerTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their amazing blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten 2014 Release I’m Dying To Read. So I’m actually pretty bad at knowing when books are released… It usually goes like this: friend posts picture of their hardcover –> I say “wut” –> I google the thing –> OMG IT’S OUT –> there goes my budget. BUT! I did manage to scrape together ten books that I’m looking forward to reading next year.

1. The Treatment by Suzanne Young – April 29. I LOVED The Program, and even though I hadn’t expected a series, I’m ready to jump back into Sloane and James’ world!

2. Ignite Me + Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi – February 4. Now that I’m on board the #Chapter62 train, I’m 100% ready for Ignite Me. Plus, I’m still waiting for Adam to redeem himself. Actually, my one wish is that there will be a boxed set of all the hard covers, plus the two novellas all in one pretty set for me.

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer – February 4. Well… I haven’t even read Scarlet… But I already know I’m ready for Cress!

4. The Young World by Chris Weitz – July 29. So this one I’m still on the fence about, but I’m definitely intrigued. I’m waiting for some more reviews to filter in before I make my final decision.

5. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – July 3. I WILL NOT SURVIVE PAST MY NINETEENTH BIRTHDAY. I’LL HAVE EXISTED AS A NINETEEN YEAR OLD FOR TWO WEEKS AND THEN MY DEATH CERTIFICATE WILL READ “DEATH BY STURMHOND’S INCREDIBLE WIT AND SASS AND DEPTH”. 

[No cover yet – the day it shows up will be the day I die. I’ll be double dead.]

6. Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton – July 8. Where Silence Gathers was one of my unforeseen favorites of 2013, and I was beyond thrilled to find out it would be a series/companion novels.

7. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – May 6. Andi and Veronica turned me to the Matson team – I’ve read Second Chance Summer, am reading Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour soon, and already want this third book.

8. Take Me On by Katie McGarry – May 20. I’ve only read Crash Into You, but I plan on reading the first two books in the series before Take Me On is released. I especially want to read Noah and Echo’s story ❤

[No cover yet]

9. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson – Fall. Steelheart was one of THE BEST books of 2013, and when I read that last paragraph I about had a heart attack. NOT FAIR.

[No cover yet]

10. Erased by Jennifer Rush – January 7. Another book I got hooked on thanks to Andi. We met through her pushing Altered on me, and then I won her giveaway for a preorder of Erased, and the rest is history! And now she and Veronica are the reasons I’ve been converted to a believer in contemporary. Plus – I need some more Nick. Sam, Cas, and Trev can disappear as long as I have my Nick ❤

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!

PS – TODAY IS THE DAY I CUT MY HAIR. PICTURE TO COME IN A FEW HOURS!!! (I’m so excited – I know it’s just hair but this pixie cut has been five years in the making :D)