Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, August 30, 2014

Plot Summary:
After a near death battle with the Darkling, Alina was spirited away from the Little Palace to the darkness of the underground White Chapel. Although she is weak, Alina is struggling with her confinement and suspects that the Apparat is keeping her locked up for his own advantage. However, after a coup, led by Mal and company, they escape the underground in search of Nikolai despite the fact they have no where he is or if he survived the battle at the Little Palace. Fortunately, Nikolai is a lot stronger, and cleaver, than anyone could have imagined so it should have been no surprise that he would rescue Alina and the others after encountering Second Army deserters. More importantly, while Alina spent months convalescing, Nikolai managed to create ever more extravagant machines, which takes our heroes to the most elaborate hideout ever: the Mountains. As Alina continues to struggle harnessing her powers, she is also battling the conflicting feelings about Mal and the Darkling. However, when Baghra tells Alina her life's history, it only makes sense why the Darkling is the way he is. Moreover, Alina is had to deal with the fact that if she succeeds, as is the Sun Summoner, she must join Nikolai, the heir to the Ravkan throne, to keep her not only keep Ravka safe, but say goodbye to the only man she has ever loved. As the group continues their search for Morozova's last amplifier (the Firebird) they set on a journey that will not only reveal the true origin of the final amplifier, but the sacrifice that Alina will have to make to earn it's power. There is a huge plot twist so get ready for the "HOLY COW" moment.

Critical Evaluation:
As much as I love this series, I was a little disappointed with how this series ended. IN many respects, I thought the story was rushed and could have used more plot development since the author actually revealed the history about Morozova, Baghra, and the Darkling. Although loved the fact that Alina and the Darkling could communicate with one another, especially when he revealed his real name and his feelings, there really is room for a fourth installment where Bardugo could expand upon Darkling's  inner turmoil. Personally, as a reader, I would prefer to have this struggle in the story because it would make his death that more memorable because, beneath the power hungry exterior, is a lost soul who wanted his country united, but went about it the wrong way. Granted, Baghra did explain that she was responsible for his ways, but I really wanted more drama and turmoil! What I did adore about this series is that all of the characters in this story have equally good and dark sides; the Darkling, at least for me, was not only appealing, but his loneliness pulled at my heart strings because, in the end, he really did love Alina and it was only natural that he would die because of her. The back story to Morozova was not only interesting, but actually deserves it's own story where readers can get the full story that not only shows how Mal, Alina, and the Darkling are connected. In my opinion, this love triangle is much more enticing than the Edward, Bella, and Jacob triangle (at least the Darkling didn't try to imprint on Alina's Child). In the end, Mal, Alina, and the Darkling where destined to meet, love, and, ultimately, experience some sort of loss and Bardugo delivered on that promise. Despite wanting more, the story ended the way it should and I was so happy to know that Alina got the happy ending she deserved. 

Information about the Author:
According to the author's website:

Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band. Her new book, The Dregs, arrives fall 2015.

Teen Fantasy, Teen Steampunk

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Ruin & Rising:

Awards & Recognition:

"The magic Bardugo invents will surprise and delight readers." - The Horn Book
"Readers won't be able to turn the pages fast enough to the conclusion that will generate much discussion." - Booklist

"Once again, Bardugo is a master at building an action-packed fantasy with extraordinary world-building and complex characters . . . Fans of the first two books will not be disappointed." - School Library Journal

"Triumphant . . If opener Shadow and Bone was a magical coming-of-age story and middle-volume Siege and Storm was a policial thriller, then this third book is an epic quest. . . Every time readers may think she's written herself into a corner, Bardugo pulls off a twist that, while surprising, will keep them turning pages furiously." - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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