Title: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date: June 17, 2014
Summary (via Goodreads):
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction – and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
I don't know how to review this book. I can't stop thinking about it. Ruin and Rising left me wordless and reeling. Here's what happens when you read this book: Your heart pumps faster. Your body stills. Your throat clenches up. You gasp and cover your mouth at some parts. You cry and try not to screw up your face at others. You laugh one minute and you're somber again the next.
This book – this series, really – is a rollercoaster that I want to ride again and again until I can understand exactly how Leigh Bardugo put it together. She is uncannily good at teasing out every single emotion you could ever imagine, spinning a web of subtleties and gray areas until you're not sure what to think. You love a character something fierce and you question them with the turn of a page. You want to mourn and you want to sigh in relief and you secretly maybe want to find fan fiction that brings all of your favorite characters back to life. (Moi? Why, I would never.)
Everyone becomes a more intense version of themselves: the Darkling becomes ever more tragic. Mal becomes… truer, somehow. Steadier and more sure-footed. Alina becomes fiercer, stronger – and not just more powerful, but more demanding of what she wants and, maybe more importantly, what she needs. Nikolai manages to take "charming" to the next level – but also he becomes tangible in a way that he hasn't been before. He becomes human. He becomes real. And that's not even the whole squad. So many stories. So many motivations. So many histories that are hinted at, but that we'll never fully know (until Leigh Bardugo writes the epilogue to the epilogue, obviously).
I've been replaying words and events from this book in my mind for days and days. And days. (Really, it's been weeks if we're being technical.) I keep repeating things like "I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK" and "WHY LEIGH BARDUGO WHY" and I'm probably driving her crazy with my every-other-day tweets about how I'm still crying over these frickin' books. Can't stop, won't stop. Couldn't stop if I tried.