Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Even though we only met a few weeks ago, it's hard to say goodbye to the Grisha gang. Ruin and Rising certainly wasn't what I expected. Though Bardugo wrapped up the series nicely, there were some definite plot twists I never would have seen coming. I have kind of mixed feelings about the ending, as it didn't exactly go the way I wanted, but that happens sometimes. And though it wasn't the ending I necessarily expected or desired, it was still a proper sendoff to these characters and this masterfully crafted world.
I felt Alina really grew throughout the books, and her decisions in Ruin and Rising put to rest all the qualms I felt against her at the beginning of the series. Her character is dynamic, constantly shifting. Her relationships with Mal, Nikolai, and the Darkling are complex. Even minor characters have impactful importance in this conclusion to the series. I loved the return of Baghra and how her character line plays out. Genya, David, Zoya, the Apparat... the list seems to go on and on with characters that help make this series what it is. In my opinion, that is one of the major strengths that Bardugo has that a lot of other YA series lack. She takes the time to develop the minor characters, and remembers to include them in the plot. They are not only there to help get the plot out of a sticky situation. They are developed, multi-dimensional characters by their own right.
Where Siege and Storm felt a bit like a filler novel, Ruin and Rising suffers no such issues. It is jam packed with plotting and action and suspense. And a little bit of heartache and surprise as well. While I felt the pace at the beginning of the novel and at some points in the middle were a little slow, the plot was a bit like an avalanche careening down the side of a mountain. It continued to gain steam until it barreled you through to the climax, then left the final pieces of the plot to be tied up in the end in the conclusion.
Considering how much death and despair are in this series, and considering the entire series takes place during a war, I found the ending a bit too 'Happily Ever After' for my taste. But then again, Bardugo could have gone the Lauren Oliver or the Veronica Roth route and blown the entire series to pieces with the final installment of the series. So while it was no Mockingjay (which seemed to have just the right amount of 'happily ever after' and 'oh God, how could she let this happen'), I thought the finale paid proper homage to the series, even if it isn't the way I would have written it.
Definitely a series that I will be adding to my personal library in due time.