How I read it: Hardcover
Why I read it: It was on my TBR and a few people I know in real life gave it excellent ratings, so I got this from my library.
Rating: 5+ out of 5 stars (NEW FAVORITE)
This is the first book of the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. I have heard so many good things about this book and gave it a go. I am stil in awe.
Summary from Goodreads: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Quick Review for those who have not read it yet:
OH. MY. GOSH. This was a super fantastic book and Leigh Bardugo deserves a standing ovation for this piece of work. It was so amazingly brilliant and unlike anything I have ever read. I was immediately transported into the world of Ravka and I didn't want to leave. The plot was great, almost nothing was predictable. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. This masterpiece is recommended to anyone with a functional brain.
This book is probably one of the best books I have ever read. No doubt. Bardugo took me to a whole new world, so captivating and interesting and I LOVED it. There were so many things I enjoyed about this book.
First of all, the characters. The characters in this book were so well thought out. I absolutely adored Alina. I was reading this one blog post a while ago about the 3 types of YA female characters: starts strong and gets stronger, finds hidden strength that she didn't know she had, and starts weak and gets stonger (character development!). Alina would be categorized under "finds hidden strength she didn't know she had". I found myself able to relate to her, which initially drew me to her. She is in love with her best friend that she has known her whole life. She isn't pretty. And she tries to make the best out of the situations she is in. Alina was a wonderful protagonist. Then there's the Darkling. My mind was all over the place on this guy. At first I'm just like, "Wow, he seems really sweet." Then I found out about his plan all along and thought, "What a sadistic creep." In my opinion, a book is only as good as its antagonists. Leigh Bardugo nailed it. My perspective of the Darkling changed throughout the book. I felt like I was Alina and her thoughts were my thoughts. Usually, I could predict what I think the character will be like and form an opinion on them. But this was not the case. That's how I felt about Mal as well. At the beginning, I thought he was an awesome character, although blind to Alina's love for him. Then as Alina found a strange attraction to the Darkling, I started to drift away from good thoughts about Mal. Then, when he travels with her to find the stag, I fell in love with him again. Okay, I lost it when Mal confessed his love for Alina. That was one of my favorite parts. I am a very sappy person and I have a soft spot for books that involve best friends becoming lovers. Mal would do anything to protect Alina and he loves her. He is brave and strong and just a great overall character.
Second of all, the character development. The story starts out with Alina and Mal as just "kids", working as a cartographer or as a tracker, swooning over the Grishas, and Mal having fun with his friends Mikhael and Dubrov. Then near the end of the book, they have matured. Alina understood the importance of her power as a Sun Summoner and the effect she had on people. She learned responsibility, leadership, courage, and strength. When Mal was separated from Alina, he realized that he couldn't live without her and he loved her. She was the only one for him. And at the end, Mal tells Alina that Mikhael and Dubrov were killed. It's like everything they knew was gone. Their world was turned upside down. They learned to grow up. Their struggles enlightened their reality. This quote really explains it well, "I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him close. But I couldn't, not with this new Mal. Maybe not with the old one either, I admitted to myself. We weren't children anymore. The ease of our closeness was a thing of the past." I love this aspect, and it really made me think. Experience changes people: they lose their innocence and are forced to become more mature and knowing.
Third, the connections she made withing the book and lack of predictability. I have to admit, I could not predict anything in this book. Well almost, but I can't think of a part where I predicted an event happening. I was unable to make the connection of the Darkling asking Alina about how good of a tracker that Mal was. Then later in the book, you realize why the Darkling asked that question. I had no clue that the Darkling was the bad guy. I didn't see that coming at all, cause I actually liked the Darkling. Then, everything made sense and my mind was blown. What I really loved was the story behind the scar on Alina's palm. When I first saw the scar mentioned in the beginning, I kept asking questions to myself about whether or not it was important, why she kept rubbing it with her fingers (thumb i think?) all the time? And at the end of the book, I knew there was something so significant about it. When the shard of the blue cup dug into her palm when she clung to Mal after one of his long hunting trips, she didn't want to let go, and therefore, a scar was left in it's place. I love that connection that Leigh put there. I LOVE IT. I found myself smiling reading this part. She treasured that scar, because that was the moment that everything had changed.
I loved this book. It's a new favorite. The writing was excellent and Leigh Bardugo is a genius.