Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things – if love can ever be called that.”

First things first.. BEWARE OF SPOILERS. There is no way I can review this book without revealing some very important parts of the story. And I definitely am not able to find words to describe my emotions while reading this book. I laughed, I felt desperate, I was proud and ultimately I sobbed – A LOT!!!! Both the happy and sad parts made me cry and cry and there was nothing I could do to stop my tears. The book is amazing, the writing is just brilliant and the characters – well I am very confident that I am not going to forget any of them for a long time to come.

“I wanted to believe anything so that I wouldn’t have to face the future alone. The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.”

Alina is a bundle of contradictions – strong and weak, confident and lost, self sacrificing and selfish, desperate – everything that makes her what she is — a heroine worth remembering. I know I didn’t like Mal until now, but this book definitely helped me understand him better. He finally finds his purpose and his journey through it is full of love, loss and sacrifice. Obviously, the fact that he gave up his life for Alina and Ravka helped in changing my feelings towards him.

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

All of the others who choose to follow and believe in Alina are so wonderfully written that I can’t even pick and choose whom I like better. Brave and faithful Tamar and Tolya, strong willed Genya, brilliant David, annoying Zoya, Nadia, Adrik, Misha, Baghra, Sergei, Stigg, Harshaw – every single one of them is memorable and it is their love and friendship and loyalty that make Alina what she is. Sankta Alina is incomplete without all of them.

“I’m used to being the center of attention wherever I go. I’ve been told I could charm the shoes off a racehorse midstride, and yet you seem impervious.”

Now coming to one of my favorites Nikolai whom I can’t talk about enough. Nikolai is as usual on a charm offensive, whether he is plotting an escape or proposing to the one girl he can’t get. But when he is transformed by the Darkling into a creature of darkness, it was just so heartbreaking. I cried and then I kept hoping that he would find his way back and I was delighted at the end when he became the King. His vulnerability and uncertainty towards the end was so unlike him that for a moment, I wished Alina would remain with him. But wishes don’t always come true. All I can hope for is that in whichever universe this story occurs, he gets to marry for love rather than forging an alliance. And I am absolutely certain the King of Scars will bring prosperity to Ravka.

Update: I just got to know that King of Scars is indeed going to be a new duology with the first one coming in 2019. I mean… that’s actual dream come true. But it’s too long a wait…!!!

In this moment, he was just a boy – brilliant, blessed with too much power, burdened by eternity. “Aleksander”, I whispered. A boy’s name, given up. Almost forgotten.

Here comes the DARKLING – I know he is a mass murderer, he tortures and manipulates and tries to break Alina every chance he gets, but his character is so well written in the realm of black and white and grey that I can’t hate him without also loving him. He is full of darkness and greed and destruction but his other side of wanting a better world for Grisha, of wanting to be rid of the loneliness that has plagued him for eternity – this just makes me want him to get a little shot at happiness. May be if he is with Alina, he might become a better person. Maybe Alina would be able to bring out the boy from the creature of darkness. Now more than ever, I wish for a Grishaverse where Alina and Aleksander get their happily ever after.

“You might make me a better man.” “And you might make me a monster.”

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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