Today I’m reviewing the final book in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising. I first read this book when I was 17 or 18, and I reread it in January of this year. This review will contain spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. All Ruin and Rising spoilers will come after my review.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that my general rule of thumb for trilogies is that I like the first book the most. This is true for the Grisha Trilogy. I’m not a fan of middle books, so Siege and Storm is not the most engaging read, and I don’t love Ruin and Rising quite as much either.
I still love the worldbuilding, and the characters travel more in this book. However, the plot still isn’t memorable. The ending is nice, but I’m not that impressed by the events that lead up to the ending. I also feel like there just isn’t enough tension to keep me engaged throughout this book. I really wanted to see more interactions between the Darkling and Alina, and I think that would’ve helped add tension to the story.
As for the characters, I still love the Darkling and Nikolai. I still don’t like Mal. None of that has changed. However, there is another character whom I really dislike in this book. This isn’t because he’s a poorly written character or anything. It’s simply because he’s a terrible person, and he makes me so angry. That character is the Apparat. He’s such a hindrance in this book, and I just want him to get out of Alina’s way, so she can destroy the Shadow Fold and save the day.
Another thing I’m not a fan of, despite liking the worldbuilding, is all the Saint-related stuff. The heavily religious aspects of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson don’t bother me one bit, but the religious aspects of Ruin and Rising just don’t work for me. I don’t know what exactly it is that bothers me about it. I guess it’s probably because it causes a lot of problems for Alina and hinders her progress, which just frustrates me. It does have a redeeming moment in the end where it really does help her, but for the most part, it annoys me.
Overall, this is still a good read. I just don’t like this book as much as the first one in the trilogy. It’s not like I had to force myself to finish it or anything. It just has more drawbacks and less engagement than the first book.
Now for the spoilers, which there are quite a few of because this is the finale. At the beginning of the book, the characters spend way too much time underground with the Apparat and his followers, and this probably fuels my dislike for both the Apparat and the Saint-related stuff. I got bored with the lengthy underground scenes that had little to no tension and conflict.
A couple nitpicky things: One, I’m confused because at one point the characters have wet clothes, and the Inferni don’t offer to dry them. Can Inferni not use fire to help them out? Two, the book never clarifies whether or not the king abdicates. I think he does based on what happens later, but it’s never explicitly stated.
As for the ending, I love that Alina loses her powers. This is something we don’t see very often, and I like the newness of it. However, I don’t like that this makes Alina into the girl she was before for Mal. I hate that Alina and Mal are endgame. I wish Mal had stayed dead. I do like that they start a new orphanage to replace the one the Darkling destroyed in Keramzin, but I still firmly believe they should not be together. I am of course devastated that the Darkling dies. My favorite characters almost always die, and he is no exception. I know he’s the bad guy and all, but I don’t want him to die. My final point is that the Darkling is the only main character who dies. Everyone else lives. I’m not counting Mal because he was resurrected, and if you’ve seen my post on the tropes I hate, you’ll know the resurrection trope is one of them. I’d be much happier if he had just stayed dead. Then a main character besides the villain would’ve died, and Alina wouldn’t be in a toxic relationship with Mal.
Those are my thoughts on Ruin and Rising. I can see how some people would find this final book satisfying, especially if they like Mal. But since I don’t like Mal and I felt like the book was lacking tension, I don’t love this ending. I still enjoyed reading the book, though, despite these faults.
What do you think of this book? Have you read? Are you interested in reading it? Let me know in the comments down below.