Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Siege and Storm

Title: Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 4, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Book Outlet
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.

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(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)

Siege and Storm is the second installment in Leigh Bardugo's The Grisha trilogy. The story begins, not exactly from where the first book ended, but it picks up right when Mal and Alina had escaped from the Darkling at Novokribirsk. As of now, I can't honestly really tell which of the two books I enjoyed the most, but I am undoubtedly stating that Siege and Storm is more intense than Shadow and Bone. It contains more twisted components, and a balanced mixture of fantasy and romance. It's got enough pounding action and twists, but it also has an admirable amount of heartwarming intimacy between some of the characters.

Bardugo instantly cuts to the chase. She begins the book with a brief introduction about the current standings of Mal and Alina after the "incident" in Novokribirsk. She doesn't bore the readers with superfluous information; she just dives us right into the important stuff and gets on with yet another thrilling adventure.

I really like how religion is incorporated in the story. In Shadow and Bone, the first book of the series, Bardugo showed that a priest, an Apparat, is part of the rulers of Ravka; he is involved in Ravka's politics. However, the concept was not elaborated, the Apparat seemingly appearing as a mere addition to stir things up a bit, to concoct some sort of confusion amongst the audience. But in Siege and Storm, religion has played a great role in the story. Suddenly, there are pilgrims, cults—people devoting themselves to someone they deemed a Saint, who apparently has risen from the dead. For me, this makes the book even more interesting because it seems as though Bardugo is paralleling the country of Ravka to the modern world, where the belief of science and the belief of the Almighty exist in the same time period.

The new characters are very engrossing. They bring about new adventures with them, new personalities to decipher as trustworthy or not. Reading about the old ones are enjoyable as well. It brings the sense of familiarity, and it's really nice to learn about how these particular characters we initially met from the first book evolve into someone better or worse in the midst of the war in Ravka. I like that we get to make more sense of their roles . . . we learn about their true colors.

The only thing that I did not really like about the book is how some of the characters ended in the story. Some of it seem too rushed, others I deemed unnecessary. Other than that, Siege and Storm is still a marvelous book worthy of its high rating.

As I have said before, I am excited to get to the third and final book. The endings of these books are a bit too vague for me, leaving me with no clear idea as to what could happen next. And that's what's exciting because as I begin to embark on yet another journey with Alina Starkov, I have no true premonition as to what the Darkling can be up to next, and what would happen to the future of Ravka. I can only rely on what Bardugo has up her sleeve.

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Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist in Hollywood, and she can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

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