My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy
Series: The Grisha #2
Format: Audio (Audible)
Narrated By: Lauren Fortgang
The problematic middle book of a trilogy! I can imagine it poses a special kind of challenge for authors. How to keep the story moving forward and compelling, when it’s really just the build up to the big finish. Siege and Storm, book 2 in The Grisha series, worked out all right but it does suffer a bit from the middle book doldrums.
Alina and Mal find themselves very quickly thrown back into the thick of the things that they were trying to get away from. Problem is, Mal is really grumpy about this but Alina? Alina is kind of relieved to be back in the game helping out and using her sun summoner powers again. In fact, she’s worried that she’s a little too comfortable to be all powerful and important again. Spectral-ish visits from the Darkling whenever she’s feeling her most lonely and isolated are also leading her to suspect that she may have more in common with the Darkling then is good for her or Ravka.
So book two is a lot of soul-searching and planning and worrying and serious amounts of angst. It’s the lull before the storm, when everybody starts to question everything – themselves, each other, everything they’ve done this far, whether they are doing enough or perhaps too much. I appreciate so much that Alina has this complexity and that her development and doubts are laid bare and believable. But while it never got boring per se, I did not enjoy it quite as much as book one of the series.
There is an attempt to add some excitement to the plot by adding a new important character who started off as fun and interesting but got less interesting for me once his “secret” was revealed. And he can’t really make up for the relative absence of the Darkling who is by far the most interesting character being both sinister and seductive.
Another weakness for me was Alina and Mal’s relationship. I like Mal and I like them together but Bardugo couldn’t just have them be in a happy and settled relationship so we get all kinds of roller coaster. It portrays both the characters in a pretty negative light, with Mal feeling like he’s being shut out and shut down and Alina IN FACT shutting him out and down. But he also makes very little effort to understand what she must be going through. It’s all so angsty. I also found it a little weird that after weeks of being on their own together and living together that they were both still so physically shy and awkward with one another.
The ending of this installment felt a little bleak though that must be the way of middle books. Things have gotta be bad for the appropriate level of come back to occur in the finale.
Final Verdict: Pretty okay sequel in a good, original YA fantasy series. Bring on Ruin and Rising!