The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, diagnosis 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.
While this review will not contain any spoilers from Ruin and Rising, I cannot guarantee there will not be spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm.
Dear Ms. Leigh Bardugo,
I have been waiting over a year for this book to come out. When I first read Shadow and Bone, I could not believe that such a book could even exist. It was a beautiful blend of fantasy, power, politics, romance and so much awesome. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Siege and Storm and that book blew my mind anymore.
When I headed out to your release event for Ruin and Rising, I had high hopes, dreams, expectations, apprehension, and so much more when I picked up my copy. I’ve read finale books in series recently that have been disappointing, have left me wanting more. I had high faith in you, Ms Bardugo. I believed that you could do this.
I got home, wanting to crack up the book right away but you threw such an awesome launch party that I immediately crawled up into my comfy bed and went to sleep. When I awoke the next month, I immediately reached for my book and spent the next few hours wrapped up in the world of Grisha and Ravka.
The first thing I thought of when I finished the novel was, wow. The second thing was…this is how you finish a trilogy or a series. This is exactly the kind of feeling that I want to be left with when I finish a series that means as much to me as this one does. I felt sad, and happy and bittersweet and overwhelmed but satisfied. I was so utterly and perfectly satisfied with the way that this series ended. It literally could not have gone any different than it went.
What you did right was this: you wrote the ending that we both wanted and didn’t. There were things that I wanted so badly and it happened and it made me happy. There were things that happened that I wanted to curse at, but felt right in the story. You knew how to make the right sacrifices, knew each direction that the characters were going in. Each ending felt right, perfect. Nothing felt forced. It seemed like the natural ending for each person. It made sense. I was happy for some, heartbroken for other but I was so satisfied.
Did I mention how incredible you are at writing fantasy? It blows my mind how you can create this beautiful, complicated world and make it feel so real and so addicting. Every moment in Ravka is important to me, and everything feels like its this whole different world. That’s the beauty of really great fantasy. You believe it. There’s nothing about it that feels fake or forced. Ravka is real and every character in this book is so real. I care so much about all of them. You’re an incredible writer. I could only hope to write like you one day. You are such an inspiration.
You can write action, you can write tension, you write beautiful romance, and you write politics and you write scary scenes and you do it all so well. All of these weave so well together into 400 pages of pure awesome.
Basically, thank you. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for the entire series. It is incredible from the very first page to the very last page. All three books make so much sense together, flow perfectly, and tell a beautiful story. You left us with an epic cliffhanger in Siege and Storm and brought us in, answered our questions, wrapped up our story, and left this reader feeling incredibly satisfied. Its hard to let go of these characters but I’m anxious for anything and everything you write in the future because if they are even a fragment of what the Grisha Trilogy, and Ruin and Rising is, I know they are going to be epic.
Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.
Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn–but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?
I love a good road trip book. I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of those lately so maybe this is something that I’ve been wanting to read. I love the idea of getting into a car, ready for an adventure and coming back with all these stories and with a sense of change in you. It makes me think of summer. It makes me think of possibilities. The idea of a road trip is very…romantic and adventurous to me. I’ve never actually been on one before so there’s that too.
I think that Jessi tells a sweet, and emotional story and I loved every minute of it. Honor is a really fun character, fumbling, and unsure, but you watch her find her footing as the novel continues on and I think that’s great. It goes along with that idea of change and growing on a road trip. I love that. I think that Rusty is quite annoying at first, but he grows on you, slowly, until you suddenly find yourself madly in love with him and you’re wondering how the hell you reached that point.
What I liked the most about this book was how real it felt. The death of her brother, her struggle with dealing with it, the emotions she felt for the people she came to meet on her death, the way she falls in love. It all feels so real and I think that’s what Jessi Kirby manages to do in all of her books. She creates this beautiful adventure in a grounded sense of reality and some days, that’s exactly what I need.
In the end, the thing that really got me the most was the relationship between Honor and her brother. Though her brother is dead as soon as you read page one, you get a great sense of what their relationship was like before his death. I have a thing for sibling stories. I have three younger brothers and two younger sisters, and a sort of brother-in-law and sister-in-law (My boyfriend and I aren’t married but after nearly 7 years, you start to think of his siblings as yours), and I love all of them immensely and I love the dynamic of the sibling relationship. I think Jessi does it beautifully and I got pulled into the story because of it, definitely.
Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.
With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.
As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.
As soon as I finished Lauren Miller’s Free to Fall, I knew I had to get my hands on Parallel. I had no idea what it was about but that doesn’t even matter. Free to Fall was creepy and futuristic and incredible and I didn’t have to be worried about being attached to multiple books. I like that. I had to wait until the Girls Gone Sci-Fi event in Redondo though, so I could support the bookstore and all that.
A couple days ago, I was stuck in bed, and usually when that happens, I read. I read Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo because it was its release day and I was dying to find out what happened next in Leigh’s epic fantasy monstrosity of a great trilogy. I finished that fairly quickly (more on that later) and decided to pick up Parallel.
I fully intended to read some of it and then go to sleep like a completely normal person but I didn’t. I broke that intention so quickly because I literally could not put down this book. I finished it at 3 a.m.
Abby is living her life, making a movie in Los Angeles, and she’s wondering how on earth she got to this point, when two parallel worlds collide, and she’s in an alternate reality of her life. There was an earthquake a year previously, the collision, which caused her parallel self to take over her life. Each day that Abby wakes up could be a completely different story because of the decisions and paths that her parallel self takes in the path. It sounds a little confusing and it was for me at first, but you quickly understand as you watch it unfold. It reminded me a bit of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, where one decision could change the course of events in the future.
And that’s what gets you so tied into it. You honestly have no idea what is going to happen next. Younger, parallel Abby is making such different decisions from the ones that Abby originally made and its putting her into very confusing situations. She’s both happy and unhappy with the different life that she’s living. Its addicting. Each move that her parallel self makes could create a completely different reality the next day. You literally cannot guess where the future is going. You literally cannot predict how the story is going to go and that is incredibly addicting.
I want Abby to be with this guy, but parallel Abby is with another guy and I love him too, and Abby misses cross country and acting but parallel Abby has become part of a crew team and its just crazy. You’re so torn between these two characters, and they are the same person. You want them to work toward the same goal and its not happening. Its so frustrating and I thought about closing the book, and finishing it the next day. But I could not stop it. I had to keep reading.
And the ending! It was beautiful and crazy and I wanted to throw the book across the room and I tweeted that to Lauren because I couldn’t believe she could end the book that way, and then she tweeted me, made me feel better about it. Now that I’ve thought about what Lauren said, and reread the last chapter, I am very happy with the ending. Its one of those ones that are utterly frustrating but absolutely beautiful at the same time. It reminded me of the sort of ending that Gayle Forman’s Just One Year. Hopeful, sad, cliffhanger, but so many good things. You come crashing to the end and you hope for more but I love that she leaves me waiting. I will always sort of wonder what is going to happen next and I love that.
Its a nice blend of science fiction (which makes my head spin at times) and contemporary. Its a story about trying to figure out what you want in your life, and how sometimes life just unfolds the way its supposed to and sometimes even the best plans don’t work. Abby has her Plan and it doesn’t go as planned, and she gets a second chance to see another way it could and I love that at the end, she knows she’s going the right way and that she’ll end up where she’s supposed to. I love it. Great job once again, Lauren, for making my head spin and leaving me wanting more once again. New book soon?
What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?
What if you never had to fall?
Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.
I was really excited when I received Free to Fall for review. I had heard good things about Lauren Miller from her novel “Parallel” and she was going to be a guest author at the Ontario Teen Book Fest so I was high in anticipation when reading this book. I was roughly half way through the book when I met Lauren, and she was so smart and so fun to talk to that I went home almost immediately to finish it.
I think what really gets me about all of this is that it felt so real to me. While Lauren’s novel takes place in the future, its not that far into the future and it is almost sort of warning of what is to come. Lux, the app that everyone uses on their phone, is like Siri on crack. I have Siri on my own phone but I must admit, I barely use it. Lux literally determines every movement of your day. It speaks in your own voices, tells you which bus to take when, what path is the wrong one, what coffee drink you should order, everything. It literally decides everything for you, and everyone trusts it blindly. I am getting shivers just thinking about it. For me, it felt so incredibly real.
I love that it was more than that though. The story could have been shallow, just a commentary on technology but it was so much more than that. Without going into too many spoilers, the more that we learn about Lux and the company behind it, the more that I felt the need to keep turning the pages. The mystery behind that and the mystery behind Rory herself was addicting. First, we’re on a roller coaster, trying to figure Rory out, and the next, we’re in the passenger seat while she unwinds the mystery of Lux. Its completely thrilling and terrifying. Everything that happens in this book seems so real, and terrifying and that’s what makes this SO good.
I also highly applaud Lauren Miller for accomplishing such a story in one novel. I honestly wish that other authors, myself, included could do that more often. It takes a lot to accomplish building up a story, and wrapping it up, in one book, especially in the sort of complicated story that she writes. Plus it makes it so much easier to move on to my ever growing list of books to read without having to worry about a sequel! I loved that! I think it takes a lot of talent to tell a complete story like in such a quick and perfect way.
I’m just going to start off by saying this: Leigh Bardugo and her friends really know how to throw a party. A launch party that is.
The first “real” launch party that I ever attended was Leigh’s last year for the middle book of the Grisha trilogy series, treat Siege and Storm. It was a total blast so when Leigh told me about her party back at the Festival of Books, ambulance I knew that this was something that I could not miss.
I met up with my friends Sylvia and Alex, and we ate some delicious pizza and Slurpees that were literally perfect for the moment. We then drove to pick up my friend Cassandra and made our way to The Last Bookstore.
If you’ve never been to The Last Bookstore in LA before, its an incredible place to go. There are books everywhere, and rooms that are like mazes, and tunnels and really cool doors and its just beautiful. Its one of the most beautiful bookstores I’ve ever seen. Leigh could not have picked a better place to launch her final novel in the Grisha trilogy.
There was lots of food to eat, and drinks too called “The Ruin” and “The Rising.” They were delicious, both the non-alcoholic ones and the ones with a kick ;)
The decorations were SUPER awesome. The entire bookstore was transformed to celebrate the series, and I just wanted to take pictures of everything.
Leigh was introduced, in such a lovely way, and talked to us for a bit. She never fails to both make me laugh and inspire me. She read a bit from a diary that she had when she was about ten years old, and it was SO funny. Then she went through the basic plot line of Labyrinth. Yes, the David Bowie Labyrinth. It was, and has remained, a favorite movie of hers and she talks about why that is. We reach this pivotal moment of the film, where it goes from being a children’s movie to something a bit more, and she believes that it is YA. She talks passionately about YA, about reading it and writing it, and it was just plain beautiful. Leigh is incredibly inspiring.
She also read a very small bit of the beginning of Ruin and Rising, and then we all were dismissed for food, drinks and fun…oh and signing too.
My friends and I immediately departed for the photobooth. I had a TON of fun with it last year, and I was eager to get back into it again, with some of my most awesome friends :)
I also had the guts to get into the booth by myself this time. I SO would not have done that a year ago!
They also had a manicure station as well, but I’m a compulsive nail biter and I tend to stay away from that haha.
We finally decided to get in line to meet Leigh and it was a great time, as always. We talked a bit, and I told her I would see her in Vegas next week for the Fierce Reads stop and she signed my copy of Ruin and Rising. We also got lots of swag, which is always good. I love getting my hands on more bags, and bookmarks and pins.
And I got my special launch party edition sticker too, which my Siege and Storm has, and was MUCH needed for my Ruin and Rising.
As we were saying goodbye to everyone, and leaving the venue, there were two guys manning the front security desk. We had asked them early if there was a way to get our hands on the giant posters, the ones that I posted earlier, that had the first pages of each novel of Grisha trilogy. We were told that we couldn’t have them, because they were needed the next day at Leigh’s event down in San Diego. I know I was disappointed but it was okay. As we were leaving though, the two guys flagged us down and handed the posters over, making us SO incredibly happy. We ran back into the bookstore and made sure to get these posters signed by Leigh!
All in all, it was a great night, full of a TON of fun, especially the book kind, which is my favorite :) It is always a blast hanging out with my friends and meet new ones, and to see Leigh Bardugo again. She’s brilliant, hilarious and inspiring.
I definitely can’t wait for more launch parties for Leigh in the future!
Oh! I also got to talk to Leigh’s mom again, who remembered me from the last launch party, and a picture was totally necessary. I even put them back to back so you could see. What a sweetheart and so proud of her daughter. I love it!
I have finished Ruin and Rising already so watch out for a review coming VERY VERY soon!