First off, RANT: Why did they trick me like this? For those of you reading on a Kindle, be aware THE BOOK ENDS AT 58% THE REST IS PREVIEWS FOR OTHER BOOKS. I found myself thinking the story would last a while longer and while it did have a complete ending that made sense the percentage threw me off because I was expecting to have a lot more to read.
I never understood how people could be so harsh when they reviewed books before, but the more and more I read YA the more I understand THE COMPLETE ANNOYANCE. It used to be I either loved, hated, or didn’t really care about a book; now I’m noticing things that annoy me that never did before. (WARNING: The timeline will be all over the place, and I will mention things that happened SUPER out of order)
Firstly, it was hard for me to CARE about the MC Alina. In the beginning she was pining over her best friend and totally in love with him, and let’s be clear that I don’t mind that “trope” I’m actually quite fond of it. But you have to be consistent. Yes, she missed her best friend once she was in the castle with the Darkling it seemed like he was just an afterthought for a while there. If you’re going to make it out like she’s been in love with him for years then make sure she acts like it afterwards! Outside of this fact, there was no tragic backstory or anything to make me feel connected to her (which yes, I understand is another “trope”). Finally, I felt like Mal’s affections were completely un-returned until the very end where he’s like “I didn’t realize until you were gone how much I missed you when you’re not here” type of crap, and I was like really? They should have done parts from Mal’s perspective so we had SOME idea that he returned these feelings at all.
But after some stuff happens she is discovered as a Grisha, which I thought was super legit. I thought that Leigh would do more with it and I kept waiting but I honestly had an overall sense of MEH. I wanted more conflict. MORE, MORE, MORE. I thought that it was too easy for her to become so complacent in her life as a Grisha, and I wanted her to GET PISSED that they had life so much easier than normal humans. There was one split second when this happened and then it was like she stopped caring. I felt like a lot of the book after she arrived at the castle for “Grisha Training” was just her day to day life and it was honestly kind of boring, I needed more action.
Then we have the Darkness and her relationship with him. I did not like it honestly, and as I have said a million times already I wanted more CONFLICT. She knows he is evil from what she’s heard but she just takes him at face value and somehow trusts this guy outright despite EVERYTHING she should be sensing about him.
Now, we can get to the stuff I DID enjoy:
The big conflict that appears near the end had promise behind it. It was a very good idea and I definitely enjoyed the way it played out. The big thing in the Grisha world is POWER and who has control over it.
I really did like the relationship between Mal and Alina, even though in the beginning Mal was the more-than-occasional jackass best friend and seemingly clueless as to her affections.
I loved the magic system, even though it wasn’t explained very well. I almost would have APPRECIATED an information dump just so I had some idea what was going on in this regard. I loved the idea of Grisha and I appreciated the fact that the Second Army was made up completely of Grisha. I liked that getting sent to join the second army was an honor to most Grisha as well.
Finally, we have the MEH parts:
The conflict of Ravka with other countries. It is present but not very well explained. It is barely touched on in my opinion, and is only relevant when that thing happens with Alina on her way to the castle at the beginning.
Just the whole CHARACTER of Genya. She was just really… odd and back and forth. She seems like a nice person who’s had it rough but then you have some scenes where she almost seems to low-key hero-worship the Darkness.
Overall, this really was a decent book despite my complaints. This is the first book in the series so I expected it to be kind of a lead in and lacking in some action. I would definitely continue the series and I am hoping beyond hope that the next book is better. From what I understand Leigh’s writing just gets better and better.