Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Running from the Darkling and his soldiers, Mal and Alina find themselves in the company of people they don't know if they can trust. Everyone wants something when they realize who Alina is.
When news of strange creatures in the Fold begin spreading, Alina can only be sure of one thing - the Darkling has created something terrible - and he will not stop until she is by his side again.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: August 23, 2018
Heh, so it's been awhile since I read this book. I'm really behind on my reviews, and I'm trying to pump them out for the rest of the month so that I don't have to worry about them until...the next time I realize I'm behind on my reviews.
I realized I was really getting annoyed by the relationship between Mal and Alina. Reading about them being together often frustrated me because I didn't think their relationship was healthy. The possessiveness and lack of trust between them begs the question of why and how they can even be together. Brick walls communicate better than they do. And on top of that, neither of them seems to understand that sacrificing something for someone you love does not mean you can build that into resentment that you later guilt them with. Sacrificing is doing it because you love them, not so you can have leverage.
The plot darkened a lot more in this book, and I think the gradual change was well done. Watching Alina and the world around her become more dangerous, therefore affecting her choices, was probably the most enjoyable part of reading this. I liked that she was being forced to see both sides of what she had chosen to do and be a part of. There's really no right or wrong thing for her to do in this book because of the decisions she made at the end of the first book. Not only does that reflect more on what real life is like, it also adds a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" element to the book.
The creation of the weird creatures in the Fold definitely had me a little creeped out. I don't say this lightly because it's getting harder and harder to creep me out in fiction, but they managed to. Just the idea of what they are and what they look like, I would never want to meet something like them. Ever.
I also enjoyed seeing more of the history of the Grisha unfold. Of all the things in this world, the history of the Grisha is the thing I want more of. I want to know more about how they came about, how they split up into different groups, and how they all learned to control their powers. A good origin story always gets me, and being able to see more into the past that led them to where we are in the trilogy now, it only makes me want more backstory.
We also spend more time talking about the politics of the Grisha world and the nations that the trilogy takes place in. We get to understand why the people are fighting for a nation that hasn't been governed well in years. There's also a lot more insight into the dynamics between the different classes of Grisha. Maybe it's the nerd in me that enjoys this, but anything with a good explanation of court system, relational dynamics, or battle plans pretty much guarantees that I'll have a good time. It's probably one of the reasons why I'm majoring in journalism.
I had some trouble with feeling like the book was starting to drag as we got closer to the end. It felt like we were building to something, but I really had no idea how it would all fall into place. Then BAM! It all fell into place and I breezed through the end.
I enjoyed how Alina grew in her comfort with handling her powers and the assertiveness she begin to gain over the course of the book. No longer was she trying to hide her power, but she still struggled with how much she should enjoy the feeling that it gives her. The internal battle that we see in her is one of the most well done that I've seen in awhile in YA.
Mal is just annoying. The possessiveness he has over Alina and the complete lack of trust he has in her makes him one of the most annoying love interests I've ever read about. I have yet to find something redeeming about this guy. I'd have more luck trying to communicate with an alien than with Mal.
The Darkling...I wanted more of him. It felt like we barely got anything from him in this book, and I get that it's because a lot of it is psychological, but I missed him. I'm really hoping that we see more of him in the next book because I want to continue getting to know his character better.
Sturmhound is probably one of my new favorite characters. Someone bring me a real man like him and I'll be happy.
4.5 stars. Doesn't fall victim to the "second-book slump" that happens a lot in trilogies. I'm enjoying this trilogy and I think it's worth picking up if you like YA fantasy.