I’m squishing both of these books into one post because I can’t just do a review on the second book in a series. That would be completely irresponsible, right? (Ps. meet Sock Bun, my creepy sock bunny my mom bought me forever ago. He is now the guardian of my books.)
So I’ll be honest, I really liked the first book while I was reading it, but then after I was just like, okay, that wasn’t bad. I wasn’t quite blown away by the plot or the world. It seemed kind of been there, done that. But I still liked it enough to read the second one, and even though the second book is largely a setup for the third, it was when I realized that Leigh Bardugo is a dang good writer.
What do I mean by that? I just said the first book was okay. How can she suddenly be so great?
Honestly, it was during the second book that I realized how flawless her narration was. Her characters still drove me nuts sometimes – I’m just not a huge fan of love triangles – but her execution? Superb.
So without further ado, my thoughts:
So I hinted at this above, but some of the characters kind of made my eyes twitch. They can be a little moody and woe is me at times. BUT, and this is a big but, Leigh introduces some new characters in Siege and Storm that I really really love. So if you’re like me and kind of want to punch a few people in the face during Shadow and Bone, just hang tight! It gets better. Promise.
The second novel is mostly setting up for *drumroll please* a siege. But you get a really good look into how Alina’s world works and the politics behind the war. I was surprised at how into it I was. Leigh sets up for multiple possibilities in her third novel, so I’m interested to see where she goes with it.
So believable. So so believable. Leigh really creates an airtight world, and she includes some Russian culture into it, which is totally respectable. I don’t know a lot about Russian culture, but I’ve been wanting to do the same thing with Polish culture – no, not a Holocaust novel, more like Water for Elephants – so I totally give her props. I do wish we had a better understanding of where magic comes from or how Mal is such a good tracker. To me, his tracking skills seem even more magical than some of the actual Grisha.
The idea of people with special powers in a war torn country isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but making the setting a fictional version of a real world country is on the newer side. The more the story progressed, the more original things became, though the family dynamic did remind me a bit of Victoria Aveyard’s royal family. Not so torn but definitely dysfunctional.
Like I said, Leigh is a brilliant writer. She weaves together realistic dialogue with an engaging story in a dynamic setting to create a seamless story. The more I think about her second book, the more impressed I am with her abilities. Now I just need to get my hands on the third one…
Overall result: yes! Go read these books.
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