Ruin and Rising killed me. I’m dead. Come back later.
Kidding. Sort of.
It was everything a finale needed to be, despite the slow pacing and the slightly anticlimactic resolution. The characters were the real highlight of the story — the excellent character development and heartbreaking moments lent a depth to them that built up on everything established in the first two books.
Title & Author: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publication: June 2017 by Square Fish
Initial Thoughts: Please, please, please knock my expectations out of the park.
In the wake of the destruction wrought in the showdown at the Little Palace, the Darkling rules from Ravka’s capital. The last remaining Lantsov prince is missing. And Alina Starkov is in ruins after her near-fatal attempt to destroy the Darkling. But she hasn’t forgotten all she lost, nor has she given up on the legend of Morozova’s third amplifier. The final fight between shadow and light has begun, and the fate of a nation rests on Alina’s shoulders. It’s up to her to triumph over the darkness for good — without losing herself on the way.
“Suffering is as cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters most is what each man makes of it.”
Abby the Bookworm: 4.75 STARS
I really, really, really enjoyed Ruin and Rising. I got everything I look for in a finale: heartbreak, tears, plot twists, and death. I loved exploring more of this world, especially beyond the small-minded politics of Os Alta. I fell in love with the characters all over again, and the thought of them is making me hyperventilate.
First up is Alina. The conflict within herself between her desire for power and doing the right thing really drew me in. She makes some… questionable choices during the climax of the book that broke my heart. She’s not perfect. But that’s why she’s so intriguing.
Moving onto Nikolai. If there’s one thing I took away from Ruin and Rising, it’s that I am now officially, irrevocably in love with Nikolai Lantsov. Everyone’s favorite too-clever fox goes through so much in this book, none of which he deserved. But he still keeps smiling and laughing and never loses sight of himself and remains his noble, gorgeous self all throughout. Plus, he’s hilarious.
“You never know,” said Nikolai. “I’ve been busy. I might have some surprises in store for the Darkling yet.”
“Please tell me you plan to dress up as a volcra and jump out of a cake.”
“Well, now you’ve ruined the surprise.”
In another universe, I can see myself shipping Alina and Nikolai. They are so adorable together — but in this universe, I think they’re better off as friends. Besides, my OTP isn’t Nikolina.
IT’S MALINA. Mal and Alina broke my heart, oh, a couple hundred times or so. Mal’s character development is AMAZING. He overcomes the insecurity he shows in Siege and Storm and really supports Alina wholeheartedly in this book. He learns to step aside for Alina and acknowledges that the Ravkan cause takes priority over his and Alina’s relationship. Every single one of their interactions at the beginning and in the middle of the book had me clutching my chest and moaning in pain. (I’m not kidding.) I love Malyen Oretsev. I respect everyone’s opinions, but I personally cannot understand why more people don’t appreciate Mal for the flawed but amazing guy that he is.
In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.
And oh. My. Gosh. The Reveal. That plot twist completely caught me off guard. And That Scene in the Fold. You know what I mean.
OMG WHEN THEY REALIZED THAT HE WAS THE THIRD AMPLIFIER. AND HE WAS SO WILLING TO DIE FOR ALINA AND RAVKA.
AND HE DID LITERALLY DIE. THIS GUY. ♥️ 🥺
I still can’t really believe that Alina actually killed him, though.
The Darkling. Oh my gosh. THE DARKLING. 😭 Sure, he’s a brutal tyrant who literally murders his way to power but omg. His last scene was the saddest in the whole book, and that’s saying something.
The one thing I’ve been neglecting to mention is the plot. That’s because there wasn’t really one worth mentioning. I really love character-driven books, so I didn’t have a particular issue with that in this book. But I did feel that the climax could have been a bit longer and more dramatic? The way that things were resolved seemed the slightest bit anticlimactic.
That’s not to say I didn’t like the ending. I LOVED the ending. It was everything that it needed to be.
[Spoiler Territory, Pt. 2 — I’m sorry, I have lots of feelings]
It was so sad when Alina lost her power, but I agree with the decision that Bardugo made. Alina loved her power, and it made her whole, but it was also a burden that drew her closer to becoming like the Darkling.
But when she runs her hand through the sunbeam at Keramzin — I’m not crying, you are.
They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things — if love can ever be called that.
All in all, Ruin and Rising is a resounding finale that breaks my heart every single time I think about it too much.
Abby the Christian Bookworm: LOVE
There are so many loving relationships in this book, between lovers, friends, and family: Mal and Alina, Genya and David, Alina and Nikolai, the Darkling and Baghra… the list goes on and on. But one thing I kept noticing was the fact that some of the characters viewed their relationships with others as a burden. Yes, more love guarantees more to lose. But the Bible says: We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:16 NIV). Christ gave up everything because of His love for us. He is the example we must follow. Because love is always, always worth it, regardless of whatever loss that might come your way.
How about you? What did you think of Ruin and Rising? Chat with me in the comments below!