Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Book 3) by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 17th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy (Different edition then one reviewed)

The Apparat's plan to win the war is to bide his time underground in his white cathedral with his disciples and rise victorious when all Alina's enemies have killed each other. While this kind of strategy has led to his long and successful career in the halls of Os Alta, Alina is going crazy underground as his prisoner. Her illness after the battle with the Darkling has left her sick and frail, but being so far away from the light she summons means she is unable to fully heal, unable to escape the Apparat and her growing fear that he might realize a dead saint is less work then a living saint. Luckily for Alina her fellow Grisha are concocting a plan to release her from this underground tomb and resume their hunt for the final amplifier in the hopes that then Alina will have the strength to defeat the Darkling.

Escaping though is the first and easiest step, and in truth, it wasn't easy at all. But working their way out of a labyrinth of underground caverns is quite easier then locating a rebel prince who has become a sky pirate employing guerrilla tactics or hunting down a mystical creature that may not even exist. All this just in the hopes that they might succeed. Yet with the Darkling striking out faster, sooner, and unexpectedly at every turn, Alina wonders how her misfit bad of Grisha can survive and how they even became compatriots in the first place. With despair driving them more then hope, Alina wants to be the light in the darkness but fears that her lust for power might make her more similar to the Darkling then she dares admit to anyone, even Mal.

A satisfying conclusion is the hardest thing to achieve. A delicate balance of all the possible outcomes while remaining true to the characters and giving the readers closure. Some might say it's impossible, others improbable, but Leigh Bardugo came very close to a perfect ending with non stop action and wit. Mal becoming even more Malcolm Reynolds as he paraphrases Nathan Fillion's character from the Firefly episode "The Message" to my delight. Though I do have issues with the improbability of the happily ever after, I still felt a satisfaction wash over me, with maybe a little eye rolling at the convenience of things. Yes, after a bleak tale almost everyone wants love to prevail, cue the happy welcome home to the Shire music and end credits, but there's me going, but can't it still be a little dark? Perhaps I should stop falling for the baddies and the rogues so that when they are vanquished or cast aside I won't be left there brokenhearted.

Yet my inability to stop falling for the bad guys was a foregone conclusion with the Darkling. What made Ruin and Rising so amazing and so fully rounded a book was the insight Bardugo gave us about him. Here we don't have just a mindless baddie whose sole goal is power and destruction. We don't have a cookie cutter villain with a goofy gimmick, like a bullseye iris (don't ask me why I'm thinking of Charles Dance in Last Action Hero, I honestly don't know). Bardugo gets that bad guys can't be all that bad, there has to be more. Here we have a multifaceted villain. He's not black like Spinal Tap none more black, he's black like an oil slick or the night sky, there's rainbows and depth, there's hints of blue that make the black blacker, but a splash of light every now and then. His back story is gut wrenching, especially if you read this edition with the prequel story "The Demon in the Wood." To the rest of the world he's this improbable being of such destructive force that he is terrifying, but to Alina, he's just a boy, like calling to like. What wouldn't we do if we spent lifetimes alone and persecuted? Your only wish to be loved and safe and have someone tenderly say your name. Your true name. To learn at the end that you are in fact truly alone, that would destroy anyone.

Aside from the whole wanting to go off with the Darkling, I also kind of really want to just move into the world of this book. Because I don't want this to be the end. I can't accept it for some reason and this has spurred me and my overactive brain on to start asking fifty million questions about the world Bardugo has built. I have so many thoughts on the worldbuilding that I can't sit still. I don't think it's a lack on Bardugo's part either as to insufficient information, but more my insatiable curiosity. Unless of course you have the same questions, then perhaps we all need to sit down with Leigh and work things out. The exception to this is the distances. I really don't think that Bardugo worked out her distances on her map very well. In the first book it took far longer to get anywhere, and as each book progressed it took less and less time to get from one place to another, yes, I know they had improved transport... but still, it's off. Make a key, stick to it, alright?

As for my other questions, I'd have to be like the Darkling and have a really long lifespan because, well, some things I want to know are past, some are present, and some are future, unless I had the ability to time travel, that would make this faster. Firstly I want to know if Morozova just created the applifiers or did he plan on using them. It seems like a lot of work to go around and make them and not use them. But if he used them, well, did they respawn on his death? But then they thought, maybe he didn't die, so then, well, it makes no sense. Though I really want to know more about the physics of the fold. So it's this big blackness dividing the country and it's the blackest black inside. Well, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, this is a north south divide. How is there dawn in West Ravka or a sunset in East Ravka? Just how? See, I just need more and more books in the world to work this all out once and for all. Leigh's got to get on this ASAP.


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