Book Buddies: Ruin and Rising by: Leigh Bardugo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Buddies is a bi-monthly thing with Lauren @ Bookmark Lit! Each month we will read a book and discuss it! Our discussions are then turned into posts! Half of the discussion will be on Lauren's blog and the other half will be on this one!

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This month we read...

Ruin and Rising

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 422
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Published on: June 17th 2014 
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. 

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If you would like the see the other half of this discussion here check out Lauren's post!
(There are some spoilers.)

Were you expecting how this book ended and did you like it?

L: To be honest, I am seriously awful about predicting the endings of books! I certainly didn't see this one ending that way, but I wasn't sure about how it was going to end anyways. There were some characters I was nervous we're going to get killed off, but I'm glad they weren't! Overall I liked the ending; I think it's how it was meant to end. I wasn't surprised by it and it was pretty cute and comforting. Some parts of it felt a little cheesy, to be honest, but it was nice to have something loaded with positive feels instead of being nervous or scared for once! The rest of the book was a complete roller coaster, so I thought Alina definitely deserved a happy ending.

K: I love how the ending was happy! These books get so sad, dark, and depressing and having a happy ending feels so great coming from this trilogy. I think it is safe to say I was really scared about the end too. I thought there were going to be characters that I loved, they were going to die. Maybe Alina's plan would somehow malfunction (which, it kind of did) and she would die. When Nikolai was one of the Darkling's ghost thingies, (Man, I forgot what they were called) I was scared for Nikolai. I wasn't sure whether he was going to die or something.

Did your feelings for any of the characters change?

L: Hmm, I think I warmed up to Mal a bit more! He was kind of annoying and mopey during the second book. I was really hoping she wouldn't end up with him even though I figured she probably would. I spent the first book loving him, the second book being annoyed by him, and the third one liking him again. It would have been nice to see just a little bit more of Alina and Mal's history together, or even why he behaved the way he did in the second book. A little more background on him would have been nice. I also abandoned the tiny part of me that was shipping the Darkling with Alina. I think it would have been kind of crazy and cool if she ended up being evil with him! Could you imagine if that's how it ended?? Part of me was hoping for something different as far as he was concerned, but everyone can read about our thoughts on THAT over in my post ;) My feelings towards Nikolai were as strong as ever. I love him. He was just so funny and full of banter. Sigh. So much love.

K: I swear, my feelings for Nikolai have gotten stronger in a very scary way. I don't want to get in depth with how I know this because then everything will be...creepy. But! My feelings for Zoya changed! Oh, you remember Zoya right? She was the jerk that made Alina's life miserable. Yeah, I kind of started liking her a bit more. Zoya is not actually that bad. She may seem mean but she is very brave and will have your back. I don't know...she seems like Celeste from the Selection! At first, I hated her guts but then in the last minute I started liking her. If I had to choose one person to fight with me in battle I think it would have to Zoya.

When Alina and Co. finally found the third amplifier, what were your exact thoughts when you read that part?

L: I was SO surprised! I think my reaction was something like "WHAAAAT??!?!" I didn't see it coming, but I had a weird feeling about the firebird in general. That whole aspect of the book with Morozova's family was insane! Those questions being answered was probably my favorite part of the book; it really took it to a whole new level for me. I'm kind of mad at myself for not seeing it coming. All three books were kind of set up as a rollercoaster - they would have action, then plot development, then action, then plot development, then action. It's not like a traditional book where there's rising action, a climax, and falling action towards the conclusion. I really think it worked so well for this series. It enabled the world building to be integrated right in with the action; as the characters find out more about Morozova, they're still battling and trying to figure out how to survive with the new information they learned - especially about the third amplifier. 

K: I let myself loose with this plot twist! When I read it I was thinking,"How the heck did they figure this out?!" and it still confuses me to this day! I don't get it, how did they suddenly figure it out. The evidence they had proves nothing! Everything could be a coincidence. I didn't question it though. If they thought Mal was the amplifier and seemed really confident on it, I just went with it. I don't know if anyone remembers this but I did mention the fact that we didn't know Alina's parents and how it could affect the books later on. (This was our first discussion). I guess I was sort of right because not knowing Mal's parents really affected the book.

Looking back to Shadow and Bone, how do you think Alina has changed? 

L: I think her character development has also been kind of up and down! She started out as this orphan girl who felt so ordinary, then suddenly had these unheard of powers. The first book involved her really getting used to them and figuring out the things she could do. In the second book, she became kind of darker as she REALLY grew into her powers. She started seeing the connections between herself and the Darkling, which was really cool. She always kept the fate of her country in mind, but did adopt some darker attitudes and was a bit more ruthless. In the final book, she's finally figuring out how to balance everything. I thought it was interesting that she was constantly struggling with who she thought she needed to be, who she was before, and who she wanted to be. She constantly dealt with these internal issues that are mirrored in the way regular people like us grow and change. I'm definitely not the person I was a year or two ago, and hopefully I'll grow even more into who I'm supposed to be. Alina had that same struggle everyone has, except it was amplified by the fact that she had to save her country and deal with these crazy powers.

K: Well said, very well said. I have to agree with you. I think Alina did go through a very rollercoaster ride in her development. I do think there was a lot of the figuring out her powers rather than the darker attitudes. Throughout the three books Alina is still learning how to control her powers and use the Cut. That's what so great about having a protagonist that started off with a rough childhood or seemed like a no one. You get to read about the character development and compare them to the past version. The struggle for Alina to figure herself out was definitely real. I mean she needed to be a brave and powerful person in order to lead Ravka in the future. At the same time she just wanted to be the person that was on Mal's side. Dang, there was so much internal turmoil...

Do you think this series would do well as a show/movie? Why or why not?

L: I could definitely see it as a movie trilogy! That's a good thing, considering it's going to be a movie soon ;) It's going to be produced by the person who produced Harry Potter, so I'm expecting great things! I can definitely imagine there being some insanely cool special effects in a movie; imagine how crazy they could make the Darkling and the sun powers look. I wish that Leigh Bardugo was adopting the novel into the screenplay but it appears that someone else is doing it. I always feel like books turned into movies are always much better when the author writes the screenplay - that way, they keep all of the important parts and cut out what they think isn't needed. Do you have any casting ideas for the movie? I'm curious because I'm SO bad at the "dream cast" thing!

K: It's going to be turned into a movie!? I haven't heard of this news. This. Is. Great. News. And produced by people who did Harry Potter. Even better news. I think this trilogy would be better off as a TV show though. There is just so much action and stuff going on a movie for each book may be a lot to handle. As for the casting...well it needs to be perfect. I am rubbish when it comes to the dream casting because I know such little actors. Hopefully this movie can bring up and surface some new great actors! I actually have no big doubt about the movie I have a lot of trust in the people who made Harry Potter. Of course it would always be better if the author did the screenplay but I am excited to hear this movie news.

In general, what were your thoughts and feelings about this trilogy? Would you recommend it to someone looking for a fantasy read? 

L: It's interesting because I actually haven't finished a lot of series. I've started some and finished some contemporary ones, but there aren't many fantasy series that I've completed. I was trying to think of how it compares to other series I've read but it really doesn't! I gave the first book 4.5 stars and the second one 4 stars. I think I'd honestly give this last one 5 stars. I guess it suffered a little bit from "middle book syndrome" because I felt the second book was a little slower than the first and last. Overall I would absolutely recommend it to anyone! People who like unique fantasy stories would definitely love this. I remember saying in our first review of the series that I completely agreed with the quote on the cover of the first book - it's truly like nothing I've ever read! The powers, the world/setting, and the characters are so unique and interesting.

K: I'm not a fantasy reader. I just don't read a lot of fantasy. Like Lauren said I can't really compare it to a lot of other fantasy but I would definitely give this trilogy a 4-5 stars. I have to agree with you on the "middle book syndrome" (Oh middle children and books, I feel so bad for y'all). I loved all the books but the first and last books were probably better than the second one. People who are looking to start reading fantasy would go very well with the Grisha Trilogy. I consider it high fantasy but I don't think it's high as books like Sarah J Maas. This trilogy had a little of everything. Romance, action, humor, the finding yourself aspect, and a lot of fun! This trilogy is definitely for people who are looking into start fantasy and for people who normally read fantasy as well.

Again, if you would like to read the other half check out Lauren's blog! Thanks for reading!