Finished Date: May 26, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Series: The Grisha #2
My Rating: 4.5/5
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*Received a retail copy from NOQ Store*
SIEGE AND STORM is reminiscent of the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, IMO. It’s got the whole gloomy outlook and landscape, a growing evil force, a girl looking for the objects that will hopefully bring an end to said evil thing down pat, but with a tad more romance and politicking.
S&S starts off where SHADOW AND BONE ended, with Alina and Mal onboard the Verhadder, sailing for the shores of Novyi Zem where they hope they’ll earn enough coins to travel out of the Darkling’s insidious reaches. But we know how these stories go, don’t we all? Happy ever after never comes easy. The Darkling survived the Fold, gaining a horrible scar and terrifying new powers and soon catches up to them. He has plans for Alina and Mal, but along the way, they meet unexpected allies – though Malina are still unclear of said allies’ true motives and allegiance – and barely escapes the Darkling.
This story has a very different style of plot layers than most other High Fantasies. Most others have complex storylines, a number of other subtle plotlines happening concurrently as the main story arc. However in S&S, it’s about mindplay as much as politic maneuverings, betrayals, deceptions and the ultimate battle/showdown between good and evil. During their short stay in Novyi Zem, Alina is happy, but she is also not. She feels this loneliness and discontent because she’s got to hide her powers and she can’t ever wield it again if she and Mal are to live in the shadows. She doesn’t like it, but what the Darkling said was true – they are similar, and no others will ever be like them.
Throughout the novel, most of Alina’s issues happens inside her head and with the new love interest – who I’m still pretty conflicted about – the pace of the story did slow down quite a bit. There wasn’t as much adventure and fighting as the previous installment, though there were plenty more problems dished out to our protagonists. I did like seeing more of the world outside Ravka though, and of course the new characters that were fleshed out.
The new love interest, Sturmhond, is a privateer with a secret identity with a very off-hand, witty attitude that can turn steely and dangerous the next second. Alina prefers to call him pirate though. He’s…well, he’s cool and funny and the captain of a very awesome bunch of crew and his secret identity is even more awesome… but I’m still Team Mal cause nothing shouts true love like a guy that gives up his present, his future, his friends and his other passions just to be with and protect his girl, so, GO MAL! Beat that stuck-up pirate! Hahaha, moving on.
After helping Alina and Mal escape the Darkling, Alina feels the guilt and burden of the lives lost in Novokribirsk where the Darkling used her powers to expand the Fold, and of the bajillions other Ravkans now that the Fold is constantly expanding. She feels responsible for these people, and so she goes back to Ravka and devises a plan to, well, essentially to save the world.
I feel that Bardugo did a superb job with the internal turmoil in Alina. I feel and surprisingly sort of understand her obsession with finding the amplifiers, her confusion of whether or not it is her thirst for power or genuine desire to save her people, and the rift that it causes between her and Mal. I can feel her helplessness as it happens, her heartbreak and feeling of inevitability. I was just so invested in her I read S&S in two sittings! I did feel a little dirty after putting it down though, because the decisions Alina had to make were terrible and I did just go through it all the way with her.
THAT ENDING. I pity Alina and ARGH, Mal. What is a girl supposed to do with you. I’m Team Mal, but…ARGH, I can’t put this into words! The situation between them isn’t anyone’s fault, and I just can’t stand this…situation. ARGH.
Anyhoo, I thought that SIEGE AND STORM is another brilliant addition to the High Fantasy genre and definitely an awesome sequel to an amazing debut.
P.S. I really don’t get the draw for the Darkling that other girls are squealing about!! He’s not really a bad boy, brooding type. He just seems…relentlessly annoying and weird…and old. :/
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