Warning: spoilers for the rest of the series follow.
The third and final book of the original Grishaverse novels, Ruin and Rising is neither it’s best nor it’s worst. It is an apt ending for a series coasting on the tried and true tropes of young adult novels.
After her fight with the Darkling, where Alina Starkov discovered a new facet of her powers, she and her crew are in hiding. The country is in ruins, the Darkling has taken control, and Nikolai is waging a guerilla war for his kingdom. The goal? Find the final amplifier, the magical firebird, and use it’s power to defeat the Darkling and destroy the Fold.
Like the other two novels, Ruin and Rising threatened to lose my interest, but there’s enough unique moments to capture my attention. The world Bardugo has created has so much potential (explored beautifully in the Six of Crows duology.) Alina and Mal continue to be kind of boring, while her immediate group of compatriots provide the most entertainment. I fell in love with side characters literally introduced in this novel, and some older ones who gained their own character arcs instead of acting as archetypes (looking at you, Zoya.)
Like the second book, my favorite character is still Nikolai. And something truly amazing and horrifying happens to him. I won’t spoil it but needless to say, I was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. Bardugo is nothing if not creative.
As I mentioned in my last review, I still don’t really care for the amplifier storyline. And the “twist” (if it can be called that) had me real confused. If it was supposed to be surprising or jaw dropping, I neither felt it or did that. My jaw was firmly shut and my shoulders shrugged in a “meh” position. I guess the author was setting it up the whole time? Doesn’t matter if the reader doesn’t care.
Overall, a solid series. And as Bardugo has already proven, there’s a lot of potential to mine in future novels.
3 out of 4 stars.