young adult • fantasy • romance
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
I have a mixed feeling about this book. What I felt mostly lacking in this book was the world building. The first half of the book didn’t really describe the world well. I felt like the main focus was either about fashion and looks, how grande is this room and that room, or girls jealousing, bitching and fighting one another. I guess this book kind of started like Throne of Glass, but worse.
A few months ago, I would have dreaded a night like this: a performance, playing dress-up with hundreds of beautiful people in their beautiful clothes. I was still nervous, but I though it all might actually be … fun.
Alina’s character was merely okay for me. I wanted so many things from her. I wanted her to be more badass and strong, more curious about what’s happening instead of feeling homesick and avoiding the truth. I mean, wouldn’t she really want to know what the hell is happening to her after all? All she did was thinking about Mal and not that shocking fact in front of her. I don’t know, I really struggled flipping those pages in the first half with all the beauty-obsessiveness scenes and sulky heroine.
I loved Genya’s character. She wasn’t perfect but she was supportive and still gave warning and advices to Alina even when she should have not. Though she was getting on my nerves sometime, I’ve read The Tailor (The Grisha Trilogy #1.5) which was told from her perspectve and I kind of understood her position so I think she’s my favorite female character in this book.
What I think saved this book was how Bardugo made me swooning because of the romance. Ahh, the romance. . To be honest, I kind of liked the love triangle here. The Darkling was really mysterious and sexy and full of surprises. He was cool and collective but arrogant at the same time (kind of the alpha-male). Mal was more of the sensible and trusted for a long term relationship. Though I’m rooting for Mal, I’m stil very intrigued and swooned all over The Darkling. XD
The writing was no doubt, beautiful. I also love how Bardugo give some Russian vibe inside (whether it’s accurate or not), but it would have been more easier if those Russian words were placed in more obvious scene so that I could just put the sentences together and guessed it by myself.
“When a fire burns, it uses up the wood. It devours it, leaving only ash.”
Let’s hope the second book will be something I enjoy more.