Review: Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo (Re-read)
** spoiler alert ** What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.
THIS WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN I EVEN REMEMBERED WOW.
I absolutely love the story of Alina Starkov. Of the orphan who goes down as a saint. I find it so admirable that Bardugo wrote a character who chooses to live a quaint life, even after everything she accomplishes, everything she sacrifices.
This re-read also really got me to appreciate the side characters. I remembered almost none from my first time around, but this time my heart was shattered to pieces. I didn't even remember Harshaw existed but this time oh my god his death destroyed me, as minor as it really was. Also, Ruby's honorable death was so tragic, yet beautiful.
I felt so connected to every character, something I don't think I experienced when I first read this trilogy. I felt the pain of Nikolai being rejected by Alina, felt the pain of Genya as she grapples with her scarred body, and felt the pain of Mal as he accepts his fate to be killed by his one true love.
Alina's screams when she realizes what she's done will forever haunt me. I listened to the audiobook, and the desperation in her wails was so raw, so real, I couldn't help but feel every strain of her soul as the life drained from Mal's body. The life she took from him to save a nation.
I am astounded by how much this last book has impacted me (especially because I've read it before), but this has truly made me all the more excited for the show. I'm equally unprepared and ecstatic to see the people I've gone through grief and elation with on the screen.
And yes, I don't know how it happened, but for those wondering I am a Malina shipper now. I originally fell for Nikolai back in 2017, but Alina and Mal are just so special. Plus, Zoya and Nikolai deserve each other (even if they don't realize it until the next series).
I can't put into words how much this series means to me, but hopefully these scratch the surface. If not, I'll leave you all with a few more quotes from some of the most iconic scenes of this masterpiece (with my commentary ofc).
✧ 'You are on your knees,' I said. 'We are not negotiating.'
QUEEN BEHAVIOR. All hail Sankta Alina. Don't get it twisted.
✧ 'You were meant for more than me, and I'll die fighting to give it to you. But please, don't ask me to pretend it's easy.'
Lmk how I didn't like Mal the first time around when he's giving us absolute SERVES like this. The pain he must have felt. Boy, oh boy. Like this man watched Alina get whisked off by a seductive villain AND a roguish prince and STILL stood back so it would be easier for her to do what she had to do.
✧ 'You once told me that merzost isn't like the Small Science, that it carries a high price.' I nodded. 'How high, Alina?'
THE FORESHADOWING. the fact. that she. has to. kill. her true love. to save her country. bye. it ruined me.
✧ 'What did you whisper?' I asked quietly. 'To the King.'
She watched the others move up the steps, then said, 'Na razrusha'ya. E'ya razrushost.' I am not ruined. I am ruination.
YES GENYA. She lost her identity. Her beauty is who she thought she was. Now she's maimed and scarred, and yet she regains her confidence. This scene really gets me every time.
✧ Because this is what Mal had been coming to show me. Because that look-- that open, eager, happy look-- had been for me. Because I would always be the first person he turned to when he saw something lovely, and I would do the same. Whether I was a Saint or a queen or the most powerful Grisha who ever lived, I would always turn to him.
THE PAIN I FELT HERE. THE WAY MAL'S FACE FALLS. BUT YET HE STILL LETS NIKOLAI TAKE HER INSTEAD BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE HAS TO FOR THE SAKE OF THE NATION. BYE. TOO MUCH FOR ME TO HANDLE.
✧ In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.
✧ They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things-- if love can ever be called that.
now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end a series.
Song I was reminded of while reading: Fine Line