This was on the verge of getting a 4.5(with five stars for goodreads), but that ending.
The Grisha Trilogy was never something that felt action packed to me. Yes, there were always things happened, but until this book they felt few and far between. Instead the series was populated with little moments that did more to build up the characters than the plot. Ruin and Rising was a step in a different direction and a better direction. Ruin and Rising is definitely my favorite of the series. The stakes felt higher, the action was better, the pacing was better, and it never lost sight of the characters. Sure, the ending was pretty much not good based on the story we received as a whole. Still, I liked this book a fair amount.
One of the most stunning changes that I encountered in this book was that I didn’t hate Mal. The annoying irritating Mal we saw in the previous books took a back seat. Rather than moping and whining he actually took action. He had a purpose and it was bigger than just his own wants an desires. It was a big adjustment for his character, but I felt like it worked and was truly refreshing.
The plot and pacing in this book felt so much better than the previous books. It felt the tightest with events constantly popping up. Alina and the group were contantly dealing with a new threat or problem and it was great to see them work through them. When you look at the first two books the pace was so lacksidasical. There would be a few big moments scattered throughout the book with long gaps where no progression to the plot was made. Instead you were left with moments that developed characters, but were ultimately forgetabble. This book managed to weave those bigger moments more frequently while still keeping the characters in mind. The result was that I was never bored while reading it. I never developed that feeling of wanting them to get on with the story.
The most impressive part was that even with the increased pacing, the characters were still highly important. There were so many great moments developing character. i quite enjoyed moments with Tolya, though I was thrown by how much he was talking in this one. There was the introduction of Oncat who was my favorite little addition. Oncat only had small moments here and there, but they added a bit of happiness to their dire situation. Zoya as usual was a delight to see have more page time. There is something fabulous and biting about her that I absolutely love with all of my heart.
I’ve put it off for long enough, but I have to address the ending. After all the grief that Alina went through the ending felt too tidy. While it did hold a nice balance of closure while also leaving certain elements open, I still ultimately could not stand how perfect things became. This is a story about a country ultimately about war. It is about devastation. The book was built up to be about what one becomes when facing these terrible things. The story sets us up for a loss prepares us for it. Then it happens and its yanked away. It spared Alina’s feelings and it didn’t feel genuine. She needed to suffer that big loss. Not only did she not suffer the loss that I’m still struggling to believe was avoided (it was so far-fetched it took me out of the story), but then she was afforded to step away from any lingering responsibility. Yes, it may seem terrible that I’m frustrated that the ending was too happy, but it does bother me because it doesn’t fit the tone of the story and where it was headed. It was such a sudden veer that I had whiplash.
At the end of the day, I just really loved this book. I felt like it was the most compelling of the three. It had some of the best character moments and ploys. The pacing was so much better that I was constantly entertained. Seriously if the ending hadn’t been so convenient, I would have loved it even more. Instead I had a sour taste in my mouth.