(The Grisha #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
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.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
Second-book syndrome strikes again! I'm disappointed.
Please, dear author, I want some more...
This book started off strongly enough, getting into some swashbuckling action almost immediately and introducing some new and interesting characters. The first part of the story, where we're introduced to Sturmhond and his crew as they head into the northern seas on a special mission, is gripping and exciting.
It's all a matter of taste...
Sadly, after the enjoyable opening, the story grinds almost to a complete halt as we're nearly drowned in chapter after chapter of politics and military strategy. Alina herself finds it boring; you can imagine what reading about it was like. Aside from finding out the fate of Baghra and meeting the annoying tsesarevich, there's little in the way of interest that happens for a good chunk of the middle of the book. Only near the end does the action pick up again, but at that point it was almost too late for me to really care.
So much of the story itself felt forced. I just didn't feel like things were happening organically. When the main character starts doing stupid things just so that the story will move forward (like going out for a walk, unguarded, knowing that she's a target for any number of unsavoury characters), I started to wonder if this book was even written by the same author. The first book felt a lot more tightly plotted. This one was kind of all over the place, like it wasn't quite sure what it was supposed to be about.
Unlike in the first book, the Darkling -- arguably the most interesting character -- doesn't even show up much. He's reduced to an ominous presence that skulks about on the periphery of the story, little more than a one-dimensional boogeyman. I'm hoping that the third book will feature his character more and that the author will have worked with some of the character's complexities that she set up in the first book.
Let's get technical...
The writing is weaker in this book than in the first. There are a number of misused words, and some nasty comma splices that set my teeth on edge. It's also too long; so much of that boring middle section could've been cut out and we still would've gotten the gist. This book did not need to be longer than the first book!
Overall, I was disappointed. I will still be reading the third book because I want to see how it all plays out. I just wish this second installment had been stronger and more engaging.
I crossed to my room and closed the doors behind me, trying to pull myself together. So far today, I'd nearly died and possibly started a riot. Maybe I could set fire to something before breakfast.
Overall Rating: 2.63 out of 5 ladybugs