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Soldier, Summoner, Saint

Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy might not end with a bang, but it’s a satisfying conclusion to a fantastic series.

Soldier, Summoner, Saint

BOOK REPORT for Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo

Cover Story: Licking at Our Heels
BFF Charm: Yay?
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Familiar Fairy Tale
Bonus Factor: Snark
Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: The End
Relationship Status: Always in My Heart

Danger, Will Robinson! Ruin and Rising is the third and final (*sniff*) book in the Grisha trilogy. If you have not read the previous books in the series—Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first two books, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the story.

Cover Story: Licking at Our Heels

Ruin and Rising continues with the graphic, Russian-inspired+mythical creature pattern set by the first two books in the series, but I wouldn’t have expected anything else. I love these covers, and I think they’re a fantastic counterpart to the stories between their bindings. Rather than the cold and stormy nature of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm’s covers, however, this cover makes me feel a little hot under the collar, and those flames remind me a whole lot of a certain place down below that isn’t pleasantly warm at any point in the year.

The Deal:

Alina, Mal and a few Grisha sympathetic to their cause have been taken in by the Apparat, and hidden in the White Cathedral, far from the prying eyes and war machinations of the Darkling. Part prisoner, part holy symbol, Alina spends much of her time recuperating from the last battle of Siege and Storm, a battle that almost ended her life.

Soon, however, Alina grows weary of life underground. There is another amplifier to find, afterall, and the Darkling still needs to be dealt with. She and her band of not so merry—I mean, who would be merry after battle that cost many lives and sent you into hiding?—men and women leave the protection of the caves and head back into the world, to face what comes.

BFF Charm: Yay?

Throughout all three books, Alina grew on me. At first, she was a bit of a deer in headlights. She had trouble understanding why the things that happened to her happened, and never quite believed that anything good came without a price. As she grew into her gifts, she became a stronger woman and found her path in life. She is impressive, for certain, and her magic is definitely more than just some silly parlor trick. Sadly, I never quite made the solid connection with Alina that I wanted to make. She would be a fantastic ally, but her concentration on saving the world tends to make her a bit aloof. There’s a lovely moment in Ruin and Rising in which Alina lets her guard down and actually spends some time with women she considers her friends, but she still feels separate from them. The girl could certainly use a good friend to keep her grounded, but I’m just not sure I’m that patient.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

There is one scene in Ruin and Rising that is H-O-T hot. It’s barely more than a page long, but the chemistry between Alina and [REDACTED] is scorching. The rest of the book, well ... there isn’t much time for swoonage or (dangit) more scenes that turn it up to 11.

Talky Talk: Familiar Fairy Tale

Out of all three of The Grisha books, Ruin and Rising felt the most familiar, and not because I’ve read the other two books. It felt much more like a fairy tale, something that I’ve read before. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but it surprised me. I didn’t connect with the characters or their plight as well in this book as I did in the others. The Russian terms and influences that made the first two books unique were there, but they didn’t really stand out. Leigh Bardugo is a great storyteller, and the world she created in The Grisha is one of my favorites of YA. Ruin and Rising could have been way more epic—I wanted suspense and excitement and swoon and humor and all of the things I’ve come to expect from the series, and although I got some, I was left wanting more.

Bonus Factor: Snark

Bardugo kicks the humor up a notch in Ruin and Rising, and it is awesome. I won’t spoil it here, but I would happily pay to read more conversations between Nikolai and Baghra. The sass, you guys. So. Good.

Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: The End

I’m pretty sure that Ruin and Rising is one of those series-ending books that people will either love or hate, depending on who’s “team” you’re on. I, for one, appreciate a good happily ever after, and so I wasn’t wanting to throw my book across the room when I reached the final page. I can understand why you might fall in the other camp, however, but I was—for the most part—satisfied and unsurprised with the way everything worked out.

Casting Call:

I'll stick with my casting of Alina, Mal and the Darkling from my review of Shadow and Bone, and Sturmhond/Nikolai, Tolya and Tamar from my review of Siege and Storm, but will add:

Bridget Regan as Genya

Martin Starr as David

Thankfully, their “hot girl loves a nerd” relationship has never felt forced or like a ridiculous teen movie trope. They’re realistic and charming, and I adore them.

Relationship Status: Always in My Heart

It’s been a good ride, Series. Our third date was a little less exciting than our first two, but we might have reached the point in our relationship where a night in watching a movie on the couch is just as satisfying as a night out on the town. I know for a fact that I will miss you dearly, but it’s been an excellent ride while it lasted.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither a private dance performance from Tom Hiddleston nor money for this review. Ruin and Rising is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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