Published by Indigo on 6th June 2013 (first published 4th June 2013)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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The Darkling cupped my cheek with his hand, and when he spoke, his voice was almost tender. 'This is just the beginning,' he whispered.**I won this through Goodreads First Reads.**
Alina thought she could run from her past and escape her destiny. She can't.
Mal hoped he'd done enough to protect the girl he loved. He hadn't.
The Darkling, more powerful than before, is hungry for revenge. He needs Alina.
Soon Alina must choose between her country, her power, and the man she loves – or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
A bit better than the first book, I think, but it's still not quite amazing yet. Looking forward to Ruin and Rising though!
As it turns out, I still don't care about the Darkling. At all. I feel like after two books we still barely know anything about him. All we know is that he's really interested in Alina, and he's dark and scary and all that. Which is all stuff I already know from book one.
You know what I do care about? The darkness in Alina. That's the part of the story that really captures my imagination, and I love it to bits. I don't care about the Darkling at all but I care about the way Alina thinks about the Darkling, the way she relates to him. The romantic aspect doesn't interest me in the slightest. It's the way the concept of the Darkling has infused itself with how Alina views herself, how her character arc is about her struggling with that idea, that darkness, split between fighting it and embracing it. The darkness in her that makes her cruel, makes her prepared to do things she would never have done before. Makes her too much like the Darkling. The way she relishes power, the way it changes her. I am a hardcore fan of this stuff.
What I continue not to be a hardcore fan of is the romance in this story. I just. God, I cannot stand characters who are so appallingly bad at communicating with each other. Alina and Mal seems to go like five billion steps backward for every step they take. This is just not that kind of romantic plot that appeals to me at all. I just want people to TALK TO EACH OTHER PROPERLY and sort their goddamn feelings out. Alina and Mal spend most of this book sullenly staring at each other, misunderstanding each other because they refuse to actually just pause for a second and listen to each other for real, and just generally being complete idiots. I know their love story is meant to be so complicated because she's the Sun Summoner and she should be the queen of Ravka, and Mal's just a peasant boy with no Grisha abilities, and only the Darkling can understand Alina because of her power and her darkness, blah blah blah, but I just wasn't compelled. Is it so hard for them to have a real conversation?
As a result, I wanted Alina and Sturmhond to get together so bad. Sturmhond is a character introduced in this book, and he is pretty awesome. When we first meet him, he's a highly competent, suave and swashbuckling pirate, but there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. Alina and Sturmhond talked! THEY ACTUALLY HAD SOME REAL CONVERSATIONS. They had a genuine connection! They cared about each other, Sturmhond was charming and interesting and complex and his sense of humour brought some much-needed relief from all of Mal's depressing antics in this story.
I continue to lament over Alina's lack of female friends. There was a really great new female character, Tamar, a warrior from Shu whom we first meet as one of Sturmhond's crew. She's an extremely strong fighter. When she first appeared I was so excited, but we did not get to see nearly enough of her in this book. I honestly wanted her to do so much more than she actually did. (Also, I was totally expecting her to be in love with Alina too, since Tamar said that Mal was handsome but wasn't her type, and Alina thought that Mal was everyone's type. I thought I picked up more hints that Alina was more her type, but I was sad when that never seemed to become a thing. Was I the only person who saw this? OR AM I JUST A SAD DELUDED QUEER GIRL. I just wanted there to be a queer character at least somewhere in this series and Tamar seemed a likely candidate.)
*cough* Anyway, the plot was okay. I thought a lot more happened in this book than in the first book, so I was happy about that. I especially liked a lot of the beginning of the book, which happened at sea and made for a breath of fresh air in terms of setting, and I could have done with a lot more of that. I really liked all that pirate-y stuff. And Sturmhond. I love Sturmhond. The story also had a came to a rather thrilling climax, which threaded in a lot of that stuff I mentioned above about Alina's darkness and was consequently super satisfying for me to read. I will always lap that stuff up.
So, since I am hopeful that the next book will continue to do some pretty great stuff with Alina's darkness, I am very excited for Ruin and Rising! Sadly, I will have to continue to put up with more appearances by the Darkling. I am conflicted, since Alina's darkness obviously won't mean anything without the Darkling to reflect it, but at the same time I don't care about the Darkling himself at all. I only care about what he means in terms of Alina's character. But I cannot wait to see where Alina's character arc will take us. I can only hope her arc will continue to be as beautiful and breathtaking as it has been so far.