This is the second book of the Grisha Trilogy, and I recommend you read my review for the first book before you read this one. Even if I had mixed feelings about the first book, I am determined to finish this series. And this one, while it was hardly perfect, did fix some of the problems I had with the first book.
Also despite this being a non-spoiler review for the second book, there are a few unavoidable SPOILERS for the first book. Just as a warning.
Page Count: 435
Format: Paperback (+some Audiobook)
Synopsis: Alina, the Sun Summoner, and Mal have escaped from Ravka, though haunted by the shadows of their pasts, traveling across the True Sea. However, the Darkling pursues her and Alina must decide whether to be caught up in his darkness or truly escape to save Ravka.
This book picks up right after the first book ended, and while I did enjoy it more than the first book, there were still so many issues with it. Alina is much more motivated than in the first book, and I really enjoyed the theme of whether she will became bad or good, but she still easily falls into angsty tropes. On this same line, the love triangle in the first book turns into a love square in this one and I really hated it! Mal is possibly the most annoying character in this book, and Alina (who is supposedly in love with him) shows 0 loyalty to him. I really liked the introduction of certain new characters, like the twins and Stormhond. The Darkling, who is arguably the main antagonist, is absent for pretty much this entire book, making him even less interesting in the first book (in which I referred to him as an angsty goth boy). I will say, his absence does create a little bit more suspense, merely because of the unknown factor of where he is, but he himself makes such a lukewarm antagonist. While I really enjoyed the magic system in the first book, in the second one I really noticed more and more holes. All the other Grishas’ magic works according to one set of rules, whereas the Darkling and Alina’s magic work completely arbitrarily, getting new powers randomly for no discernable reason. Also, there is a massive chunk in the middle of the book where NOTHING HAPPENS! Sorry…anyway, this being a hundred more pages than the first book, I was hoping for more substance in the middle, but it just fell into teen angsty tropes again. Saying that, I did enjoy the conclusion of the book.
I did have hopes in this book of exploring more of the world (either other parts of Ravka or other countries). I had hope in the beginning when it started across the sea, and yet quickly the characters returned to Ravka’s capital and spent the rest of the book there. I didn’t feel like I had a better grasp on the world between the two books, which is a pity because it was honestly my favorite part of the first book. The only new aspect of the world in this one is the rise of the cult following Alina, which was interesting.
Without giving away spoilers, there is another character who enters who plays a new love interest to Alina. While I loved his character, I could not understand why he liked Alina. Since the Darkling kind of stays as a love interest as well, it leaves three men vying for Alina’s love in this book. What is it with teen books being filled with multiple men running after really uninteresting girls?
Concerning the plot, the story started out pretty pointlessly, as Alina and Mal try to escape to be farmers on the American (I mean, Novyi Zem) frontier. And yet, immediately they get captured and return towards Ravka (this is not a spoiler, as it happens in the first twenty pages of the book!). The plot did get interesting for a chunk there, but then they were back to Ravka for so many pointless scenes.
Also, without giving away spoilers, Alina is put in a leadership position and it makes absolutely no sense. She’s a teen who can barely use her powers and doesn’t know anything about leading herself, much less others, and yet she’s put in charge. It really bothered me…
Basically, my conclusion is that this book did certain things better than the first book, but certain things were worse. Also, I did a full spoiler review for it on Youtube, if you’re interested.
Have you read this series? Are you interested in reading it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventures,