by Leigh Bardugo
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“If you ever get tired of skin and bones,” she called to Mal, “I’ve got something to tempt you.”
I stiffened. Mal glanced over his shoulder. Slowly, he looked her up and down. “No,” he said flatly. “You don’t.”
Okay, so, I absolutely was stunned by how much I loved the first book, Shadow and Bone. I couldn’t believe I had made room on my favorites shelf for a fantasy!! There was just something so compelling about each of the characters that inexplicably pulled me in. And while I still really, really enjoyed this second installment, I didn’t feel that same drawl that made me fall in love with S & B.
I think that some of my reservations are due to the fact that there was just so. Much. Information. To. Retain. It was just a little mind-boggling. And more than that, a lot of the characters were going through extreme changes that not so subtley changed their attitude and caused them a lot of inner turmoil. I fell in love with Alina’s innocence and need to fit in, Mal’s withdrawn attitude formed from jealousy and loyalty to Alina to save her at any cost, even his life, and I even fell in love with the Darkling’s, well, dark attitude in S & B….
so when Alina’s mission for power became a little more than obsessed, I was disappointed. Not only did it spring her into a completely different lifestyle, it changed Mal’s as well-he began to feel less than important, ignored, and became somewhat detatched from the story until the very end, and this made me so sad, because I love Alina and Mal. I have to say that the Darkling is the only character who’s persona didn’t take a beating in S & S, and I also have to point out that I still hold on to the hope that he can be redeemed.
“You want,” the Darkling mocked. “I want to watch your tracker die slowly with my knife in his heart. I want to let the sea swallow you both. But our fates are intertwined now, Alina, and there’s nothing either of us can do about that.”
I know this series is labeled a fantasy, but I didn’t truly feel it in the past book. In S & S, I began to see a little more of the fantasy nature peeking through and while it wasn’t off-putting, I can’t say it kept me as enthralled because of the far off nature of what they were doing and where they were heading. I’m not one to love the sea life….
So now you’re asking why I gave this a 4.5 if all I have done is state the negative side of things. Why did I like this book enough to give it a 4.5? I’m not sure, actually…I just really, really enjoyed it. It’s as simple as that. No, I didn’t fall in love with it, but I immensely enjoyed it all the same. Mal is still Mal, the Darkling is still the Darkling, and Alina is still Alina. I love these characters and I love what can happen with the story-I loved the beginning of the book and I loved the crazy ending. I just didn’t love the castle life, the politics of the story. But give me a crazy good ending and some desperation amongst our leads and I’m all in.
“You know the problem with heroes and saints, Nikolai?” I asked as I closed the book’s cover and headed for the door.
“They always end up dead.”
Honestly, this was less a review and more what I liked and didn’t like…sorry for that. But sometimes it’s just easier that way. These characters are in for the battle of their lives, and I’m just so excited and anxious to see what will happen to them. Will Alina let the power overtake her, turning her into a monster that much resembles the Darkling? Will Mal still fight to keep Alina in the light, or is he going to be afraid and weary of the girl he has grown up with like everyone else? And, ultimately, can the Darkling be redeemed?? I for one can’t wait for the finale and will be one of the first people in line when it’s released, I just don’t know when that will be, unfortunately.