My thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Trilogy ending..

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for the Shadow and Bone Trilogy are below. Do not read if you have not read these books.

I should start by saying that I was intending to write full book reviews for Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. What happened was I binged read both books in one night and I felt I couldn’t do a review justice as I didn’t really give myself time to reflect on the second book before I launched into the third.

One of the first things I wondered about when starting the series was why the romance hadn’t been spoilt for me yet. Bookstagram being Bookstagram all the major romantic relationships usually get spoilt by one way or another, but this didn’t happen with this trilogy and I was suspicious as to why. Obviously this could have just meant that there was no main ship or that it ended badly for the couple, but I didn’t think so. For whatever reason I got the impression people weren’t that invested in the relationship in this book and now I know why.

Malina.

This trilogy set up three possible and completely different endings for Alina.

  1. Alina could have ended up co-ruling with the Darkling, trying to bring the Grisha back into Ravka society whilst working together to not be consumed by the power they wielded.
  2. Alina could have ended up Queen of Ravka, married to Nikolai in an effective political alliance that may or may not turned to actual love later.
  3. Alina goes with what she thought her heart always wanted and ends up with her childhood bestfriend Mal.

For me the most interesting direction was for Alina to end up with the Darkling. They had more chemistry, and I felt more in common. Just to be clear I don’t want Alina and The Darkling together so Alina could fix him and redeem him, I just felt like they two sides of the same coin. Alina would have balanced The Darkling and reading this story line for me would have been far more interesting.

The main problem I have with Malina is that Alina had to become less of herself in order for it to succeed. I think ending up with Mal the book tried to send the message that Alina was always a strong individual and she didn’t need her power to make her strong or to define her. This would be great except for the writer often described how sickly, weak and basically ugly Alina was when she wasn’t using her power and being true to herself.

That power is part of Alina and removing it at the end I think was a disservice. Particularly when you consider that Mal couldn’t stand Alina being more powerful and useful than him, several times he said he wanted the old Alina back. Which was infuriating given that before her power Mal didn’t appear to look twice at Alina and was quite happy being the popular soldier and ladies man.

The book ending with Mal and Alina reverting right back to who they where before, all the development and characterisation was lost. As a reader it was definitely frustrating to see more interesting avenues go unexplored and completely abandoned in favour of a more simple yet sweet ending.

 

 

Book Review: Shadow and Bone By Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

My thoughts..

This book for me was an exceptionally easy to read – I ploughed through the entire thing in about 4 hours. I did not want to put it down. It has all the typical elements of a ya fantasy but there’s enough depth and world building to make this book a little something more. However I felt like the book was TOO stereotypical in some aspects and the plot didn’t really surprise me, particularly the ending which I felt was a bit obvious. I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t love it either.

The main character is Alina who grew up an orphan and at the start of this book has joined the Army with her best friend from the orphanage Mal. Alina is described as being spotty, too skinny with mousy brown hair. She does not think of herself as pretty. Apart from her slight obsession with her looks and other people’s, and that she has feelings for Mal but is attracted to the Darkling there’s not much else you get to know. Mal was also an orphan who grew up to be really handsome and kind of a ladies man. Mal is popular while Alina was not and in the Army he is a tracker, one of the best if not THE best and again that’s all I really know. See a pattern? Mal and Alina’s main personality traits seem to be their feelings for one another.

The Darkling on the other hand was by FAR the most interesting character. It’s such a cliche to be into the whole dark and deadly thing but I don’t care. The Darkling has his own plans and motivations but I think the most interesting thing for me was he falls into a morally grey area. He’s bad but with good intentions. He was the only character for me with any real complexity and his characterisation makes the book more than just another ya fantasy.

One of the main things I didn’t understand was why this book bothered to take inspiration from Russian culture at all? Apart from the occasional word I couldn’t pronounce I felt like this book had very little to do with Russia. I think this book should have committed properly to the influences of Russian Culture or abandoned the theme entirely. Sprinkling the book with occasional Russian words felt like a bit of a lame attempt to make the book stand out.

That said Leigh Bardugo’s writing style was engaging and I think for a ya fantasy it’s not bad. Hopefully in the next books Alina and Mal grow more as characters and I get to see a whole lot more of the Darkling.

Rating: 3/5 stars