Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Posted July 13, 2014 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 62 Comments

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Published on: June 17 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.


Right, so it’s been about a month since Ruin and Rising came out, but I know there are still a lot of you who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so NO SPOILERS.

I will, however, be using my trademark vague-ery to discuss the issues I had with this book. There are three. FYI. I may also have a rant (I haven’t decided yet), but if I do, I promise that you’ll have to CLICK ON IT to be able to read it. Moving on.

I love the X-Men.

I’d like to say that I’ve loved them since I was a kid, b/c that’s when I started reading the comic books . . . but that would be a LIE (b/c not that cool).

I’ve loved the X-Men since 2000 when the first movie came out. I have a vague recollection of liking the various Superman and Batman movies when I was growing up, but it was X-Men that first spawned my LOVE of comic book movies. And I do LOVE them. My best friend and I love them so much that we regularly go to see them without our husbands on opening weekend, b/c we aren’t willing to wait—WE planned for it, why didn’t they?

B/c they don’t love comic book movies like we do. Aaaannndddd we can always go see it again, if they really want to<——EVERYONE wins!

OR we can always go see it again as long as it’s not X-Men: Day of Future Past.

There’s a point, I promise.

You see, I have hard and fast rules for books (and movies) with any kind of paranormal elements. In fact, I’m probably more critical of books with magic and creatures, than books without them. One of those rules is, “If you’re dead, you’re dead.”

Unless you’re vampire . . . and then you’re still kind of dead . . . whatever, you know what I mean.

In the latest X-Men movie, time travel was used as an excuse to kill practically EVERYONE, b/c, “Who cares? We’ll go back in time and FIX it.” *twirls mustache*

There was no time travel in Ruin and Rising. There was, however, the gratuitous death of beloved characters, b/c, “Who cares? We’ll use magic to FIX it,” thus breaking what is probably my #1 rule.

Another one of those rules is, “Once a Supe, ALWAYS a Supe.”

If you get turned into a vampire, you’re going to be a vampire for the rest of your unnaturally long life. If you get bitten and infected with a Were virus, there is no cure. If you’re born with magic, you will always have magic. Someone may hinder your ability to use it, but even then, you will feel its lack.

Which is why the only X-Men movie I haven’t seen is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I refused based on it’s premise, which is basically that Wolverine wants to be NORMAL. What a load of codswallop. He wants to feel pain? He wants to get old and die? Let’s take a quick poll. Who, if they had superpowers, would want to get rid of them?


But regardless of whatever Wolverine thinks he wants (even without having watched the movie), I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work, b/c he’s still Wolverine in X-Men: Day of Future Past.

And why didn’t it work? Hmmm??

B/c, “Once a Supe, ALWAYS a Supe.”

View Spoiler »

So in one fell swoop TWO of my biggest Rules for ALL Things Supernatural were broken, and all the melodrama was just icing on the cake.

But Ruin and Rising wasn’t all bad. Honestly, it was only in the last 50 or so pages that everything went to hell, BUT it went to hell spectacularly. The beginning was a bit slow, but it adequately communicated Alina’s similar frustration at being forced to sit around and do nothing, and when things like that happen, I usually give them a pass, b/c I’m too impressed, on the off chance it was deliberate. If you aren’t bothered by my broken rules, then there’s a good chance you’ll like the final installment of The Grisha  infinitely more than I did, and regardless, if you’ve read the first two books, it’s definitely worth finishing. SO . . . recommended with qualifications.

The Grisha Trilogy:


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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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62 responses to “Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Noooo! I won’t continue with this series. Why? because your rules are my rules too… Because of those rules, after Chloe Neill killed Ethan and brought him back from death (ashes), I gave up on Chicagoland Vampires and never look back.
    I’m sorry Leigh Bardugo went that way too… 🙁
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Movie Trailer: The Book of Life

    • Man . . . the Ethan thing seriously messed with me. I joined the Chicogoland Vampires party late, so I still had several books after the resurrection of Ethan, and kept going, but I was not happy, and the series has never made any of my Top 5 (or even Top 10) lists.

    • Yeah, book 2 wasn’t my favorite either, but for different reasons. I wasn’t a fan of whiny, loser-baby Mal, and as much as I liked Sturmhond, I wasn’t happy with a new romantic interest being tossed in, and Alina felt like she was getting too . . . power hungry maybe. I don’t know. Still, overall, this was a good series. I’m just not much of a, “the ends justifies the means,” kind of person, and the means broke my rules.

  2. Gah! I don’t know what to think. I don’t want rules broken and things to go south. Darn it. I will still read this though because if anything your review has me more curious than ever on what happens Jessica and yes, I was good and didn’t click on the spoiler..but just barely. 😛
    kindlemom1 recently posted…The Sunday Post

    • Yeah, I really have to fight with myself about spoilers too, LOL. Despite my unhappiness with the way Bardugo went about it, the ending was essentially what I wanted, and this is still a great series 😉

  3. Are you me?
    You’re sure?
    Because those two things…
    those two things may not be my ‘two rules’ but there are on the list of things that I do NOT like.

    I read some of the spoilers already so I knew how it would end (in terms of the romance) but when I clicked on your spoiler, I have to say, that sounds like one hell of a disappointing show-down. Not that I have any problem with person x coming back to life since you know how I feel about person x but did person x really have to die? and did everyone invest their time in the series for THAT kind of a showdown?


    I am still probably going to read it this series because of Mal and I might even end up loving this book but I am a little sad right now *sigh*

    I am sorry this didn’t live up to what you had hoped it would, Jess! 🙁

    FANTASTIC review as always though, hon! *hugs*
    Rashika recently posted…Potato Podcast #1: It Doesn’t Matter What You Read

    • You are the worse for reading spoilers, LOL. I can’t do that. But yeah, I’m with on the whole, “if you’re gonna bring them back, did you really need to kill them in the first place.”

      Thanks, Rashika! And I still think the series is worth the read. I love it despite my disappointment 😉

  4. Sorry it was me, just forgot to add the names…

    Oh it’s sad it wasn’t as good as the others. I was fun to have your comparison with x-men I also loved the movies but I was mixed with the last movies so I stop to watch them. But well for the series I should try the first book! Soon!

  5. julie from m5monkeys  

    yeah I agree with your rules and I did read the book. I was surprised that she did that though 🙁 It happened with another book that the a charachter ( chicagovamps) I haven’t seen the newest xmen but I want too. Yeah this book was good and I enjoyed the worldbuilding and I missed more of the Darkling 🙂
    julie recently posted…What I have been up lately

    • Yeah, I had the same problem with Chicagoland Vampires. Actually, that’s probably where I was really made aware of my issue with that kind of thing. I missed the Darkling too, and despite my issues with this final installment, I still love the series.

  6. Danya from Fine Print  

    I think this is the first less than five star rating I’ve seen of this book. Now, I didn’t click the spoiler tags but your vague-ery did suggest to me that a complete shit show went down in the final pages. Sometimes with the ending of a really big series, weird & redundant things happen (i.e. CoHF, which was a train wreck)but people still rate those books 5 stars because they wanted whatever fan-service it provided. Now I like fan-service as much as the next girl, but not at the cost of a logical plot. Sorry this one fell flat, Jessica.
    Danya recently posted…Audiobook Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

    • See, I stopped reading those books in the middle of book 4, LOL. And I still love this series, but I object to the way we got what we (I) wanted in the end . . . yeah . . . it definitely could have been handled better . . .

  7. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get to enjoy Ruin & Rising more… I guess me not having those two same rules did work in my favour and by the time the ending arrived I was so damned involved in the book that I took everything as it came…
    Thanks for the very honest review and keeping it spoiler free too, even if I have already read the book! There’s people out there that don’t seem to have any consideration for those who might not have read the book(s) yet!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #41!!

    • Yeah, that’s another one of my rules, LOL. I try to NEVER spoil people, and I’m glad you loved it, Pili. I still really like the series, but yeah, those are big rules for me 🙁

  8. OMG I dread having to write my review for this one soon too. I’ve been so torn, I’ve been sitting on my thoughts for weeks. It was…good? Perhaps just good ENOUGH? I honestly knew it would end that way, though. Unlike a lot of people, honestly I never felt anything for the Darkling. I always knew LB would end things in a “safe” way. And good for her for sticking to her guns. Still. I just thought it would be a lot less predictable. And the first couple chapters I was so bored I almost returned the book.

    Anyway, like I said, I thought it was a good book, but as a last installment, it was sort of a tepid way to end a promising trilogy. And I feel validated in a way. I’ve always said, never put all your faith in a YA series based on the outcome of the romance. Anyone to do so is sure to be disappointed 😀

    • I knew it would end the way it did too, and that’s the way I wanted it to end . . . I object to the means. And I don’t know that I consider this ending the “safe” way. I don’t know that there was a “safe” way to end the series, too many teams for everyone to be happy, yeah, nope, I don’t think this was “safe.” I think it’s what she set out to do, and I admire her for sticking to her guns too.

      And I still think this was a good series despite my issues, it just could have been . . . better 😉

  9. Brilliant review! I’m sorry that this wasn’t the best read you had lately. I read Shadow and Bone last year and didn’t really like it, especially because of the concept. After reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas this past weekend, I think I’ve just begun to love fantasy. So I think I’m going to go back and re-read Shadow and Bone, and who knows? Maybe I’ll end up adoring this trilogy!
    Michelle recently posted…Countdown, by Michelle Rowen

    • I definitely would give it another shot. ToG is my favorite YA fantasy series right now, and The Grisha was #2. Even with my issues, I still think it’s a great series, and if your attitude towards the genre has changed, I’d say you’ve got a decent shot at liking it this time 😉 Thanks, Michelle!

  10. I already have an idea of how this is going to end so I can’t read your review yet. I remember being on twitter the day it came out and seeing some readers literally attack the author on twitter it was insane.

    I mean YA trilogies are pretty predictable so I’m wondering if I’ll be right and I’m sure I will – as terminator says I”LL BE BACK
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…William Campbell Powell gives us: A Missing Journal Entry from Expiration Day

  11. Again, fab entertaining review, Jessica! I want to see X-Men again now…Yeah…So sad this series that you seemed to really like didn’t finish on a 4-5 stars note. 😛

    • Yeah, I can be a hard case when it comes to rules, LOL. I wish I had more control over these things, but sadly, I don’t. Thanks, Chanzie! And always glad to meet another X-Men fan 😉

  12. I read your spoiler even if I haven’t read book 2 and 3 XD I’m not sure I have the time at the moment, but it feels like Throne of Glass would be a better read than this one, in some cases anyway. I read another review which likened what you just said to some Harry Potter Similarities, which kinda has some truth to it if you think about it.
    Faye recently posted…Potato Podcast #2: Sailor Moon Crystal Review & Comparisons

    • ToG is my FAVORITE, Faye. It’s my FAVORITE like Kate Daniels is my FAVORITE (in the adult genres)—leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. Just make sure to read The Assassin’s Blade first 😉

  13. I hate all those things too. It seems a cheap way to have it all. As much as I hate when things go horribly wrong for my characters – stick to it or at least fix it in a believable and meaningful way. Make the death mean something.

    And I really hate when the end of a trilogy crams all the action into the last 50 or so pages.

    I don’t read this series but I know so many that do. It was weird that I didn’t see much about it once it was released. I was wondering if people were satisfied.

    • YES. Arbitrary deaths and resurrections cheapen the story, definitely. Death IS supposed to mean something, so when it’s treated so carelessly . . . *frowns*

      I think people immediately reviewed it, still riding the FEELS, or like me, took a month to digest. I read R&R the day it came out, and I couldn’t even begin to review it until about a week ago. And I think that happened b/c most of us got what we wanted . . . I just wasn’t happy about how we got there.

    • Nobody, that’s who. *rolls eyes* Honestly . . . someone needs to give Wolverine a good wallop. The world is full of people with REAL problems. *snickers*

      I hope you love it, Livia!

  14. Ugh…now I don’t know if I should keep this series on my TBR list or not. I am totally on board with all your rules (big surprise…right!?). We seem to have the same warped and not always popular views. 😉

    BTW…X-Men Origins: Wolverine was really good and if you ever move closer we can have break out my super hero DVD collection and have a slumber party.
    Ginny recently posted…Meet and Greet, Guest Post, and Giveaway with Jennifer Ingman of Blue Water Editing

    • I still really loved this series, and I did ultimately get what I wanted, I just objected to the means, you know? It’s #2 on my favorite YA fantasy series, but Throne of Glass is #1, so if you haven’t read ToG yet, I’d say toss this one and go for that. If you have read ToG then maybe . . .

      And I will SO take you up on slumber party. I can bring my comic book movie collection too! It will be AWESOME!

  15. I liked Ruin and Rising but yesh my one major issue with the book was the same ss yours. I hate this whole die and come back to life again thing that authors love to use and that’s popular in TV shows right now. It’s beyond annoying and the one thing i just can’t handle. I was pretty pissed that death happened and then they came back to life but i was even angrier at the fact that it wasn’t explained WHY theh managed to come back to life. I did end up loving the epilogue though so there was that.

    • Yeah, I still think this is an excellent series too, but I couldn’t overlook that 1. they brought him/her/it back, and 2. inexplicably!! You are so right. It was bad enough that it happened, but that it happened just because? *frowns*

  16. Michele from A Belle's Tales  

    X-men and comic book movie lovahs unite!! This is another series on my wish list, and it will remain there even though book three breaks some SERIOUS rules! Grumbles. (Unless of course you are chimera and have a resurrectionist on stand-by…just finished that series and was dissolved into a puddly-hearted MESS! Don’t judge me!)And as for the last 50 pages, if everything’s going to hell, it has to go spectacularly (handbasket optional). Sigh. I have to go watch X-men now (yes, I own them all). Awesome review, Jessica!!

    • Yeah, that never bothered me either. Probably b/c it was one of the things the book was actually about, and wasn’t a surprise. AND there were still rules. If you didn’t glean the soul before it dispersed, you couldn’t be resurrected. RULES. Gah, LOL. Hey, at least I’m aware that I’m difficult in regards to this subject 😉

      And yeah, like I said, the series is totally worth finishing. I still love it even though I objected to the means to get to our end 😉