Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
In the time between reading Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, I think the former book began to build itself up in my mind. I enjoyed it the first time I read it, but it didn’t blow me away. The longer it took to get my hands on the sequel, though I think the first book got bigger and better in my mind. I started to worry that I would read the second book and wonder how I could ever possibly enjoy the first book because my own expectations would be too high, especially after seeing plenty of praise for the book. Luckily, though, this book was just as enjoyable as the first; it had a few small problems, but I read it fairly quickly and was excited to get my hands on the third and final book as soon as I finished (of course, that’ll be a while).
Before I talk about the good things, though, I’m going to touch on the things that I most often see in the less-glowing reviews. First of all, Alina is often accused of being very obsessed with appearance. While I do see that, it just doesn’t seem to be such a big factor for me; it’s something I’ll notice every once and a while, but not every single time it shows up like I would with slutshaming or girlshaming. Alina often gripes about her appearance, that’s for sure, but it didn’t bother me as much as it has others.
The angsty-ness of Alina and Mal’s relationship annoyed me more. Things start out good betwee them, but they quickly go downhill for various reasons. Both Alina and Mal seem quite angsty and broody about the whole thing and it gets quite tiresome after a while. It especially bugs me when the awesome Sturmhond (I was a bit sceptical with all the hype he got before I read the book, but after reading it I think he deserves it all and more – an awesome and entertaining guy who needs his own story) would tease them and do other things that made Alina and Mal flip out. Seriously, they could not take a joke. It reminded me of Adam and Juliette in Unravel Me, another case of taking everything the awesome character (in this case, Kenji) says way too seriously. Not everyone is out to ruin your relationship you know!
OK, but enough of the bad stuff. I obviously enjoyed this book enough to rate it with 4 stars, so it can’t be all bad, can it? And it really wasn’t. The story started off a little slowly but picked up almost right away (right around the time a certain privateer came into the picture – hmm…) and I read it as much as possible, opting to stay inside in the air conditioning to read while my parents and sister went on a college tour in the heat (we really picked a bad week to go on college tours). The story was interesting, new characters and old characters that seemed to get fleshed out at least a little more were interesting, and the ending was crazy. Just when I thought the book was going to end without a big battle (which I would have been okay with just because it should mean that the last book will end with an over-the-top battle to end all battles), the world explodes. Not literally, but you’ll see what I mean if you read it.
So, while I can see why the Grisha trilogy isn’t for everyone, I did enjoy this very solid sequel and look forward to the third and final book next year, even if it means Alina and Mal angst some more before ending up happily ever after together.