Ruin and Rising | In Which I Face My Moral Ambiguity

Title: Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone #3)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 

Pizzazz was expected. Pizzazz was not delivered. The thing about fantasy conclusions is that they must be epic and bold and beautiful. They must not only sum up the story, they must be shocking and full of absolute glory. They must have, in a word, pizzazz.

Ruin and Rising, to me, is quite atrociously pizzazz-less.

There was too much planning and talking about doing and not enough doing. Goodness gracious this book was slow. It was essentially traveling and talking with one or two explosions. Hardly anything happened. Again, my friends—PIZZAZZ IS ESSENTIAL. Honestly. 

Sensual. Leigh Bardugo makes you see, she makes you hear, she makes you taste. But above all else, she makes you feel. Her words are merciless, they capture you so quickly. Bitter at the right moments and melodious at all the others.

Her words are so very quotable. For example:

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.” 

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay.” 


Her writing, however, is not quite 5 star quality. It is magnetic and beautiful, but it’s missing something. It’s missing perfection. And you understand, of course, that five stars can be awarded only to perfection.

I have a confession. The Darkling is my favorite character. Becca! But what about his evilness, you protest. Please. Hear me out. It’s not that I actually like the Darkling, per se. It’s that he by far the most dimensional and intriguing character in the book. He’s made of layers, each puzzling and unsolvable. He’s a challenge, and that interests me. It also frightens me that my favorite character is the villain. It’s time to face my moral ambiguity, I suppose.

The characters are all stunningly well-devolved. They’re beautifully written, all contrasts of each other.

However, I didn’t feel a strong attachment. Except for the Darkling, of course. Typical. I feel a strong attachment to the villain.   


No pizzazz, but hey, I got a healthy does of moral ambiguity out of it!

What are your favorite villains in literature? What books have shocked you with their lack of pizzazz?


7 Spoiler-y Thoughts Had While Reading Ruin and Rising:

  • Harshaw is me. Just replace Oncat with my hideous dog.
  • Just when I was staring to warm up to Mal, the little twat goes and “leaves no survivors.” I understand, we can’t have the Darkling know their location, but still. A SHREAD OF HUMANITY I BEG OF YOU.
  • Has anyone else notice how often they skip breakfast? I find this horribly unsettling.


  • So does the Cut cut horizontally or vertically? Please I’m very confused.
  • I like how after Alina stabs the Darkling after she realizes he didn’t actually harm an orphanage full of children. After she realizes he isn’t pure evil, that she’s been making him her villain. Really, her timing is impeccable. 

Are you as horrified as I am about the lack of eating in this book? Did you love Baghra too?

23 thoughts on “Ruin and Rising | In Which I Face My Moral Ambiguity

  1. I don’t ship Darklina because the Darkling is mine, okay? MINE! Obviously I have a problem but IDC. I understand why he had to die but omg it ripped out my heart! I’ve never felt so heartbroken and conflicted.

    I was very disappointed in Alina. I think she could have been so much better–she could have been a queen and done so much more than just opening an orphanage (not that that’s a bad thing but she could have done more). I felt like there was only ruin in this book and no rising. 😳

  2. I need to re-read this series! I feel like I remember loving the ideas, world, and the ending but that there were pacing issues throughout…

  3. This was probably my least favorite of the series. The slowness was a huge issue and I was a Darkling fan from day 1 so this book just kind of crushed me! There was definitely that lack of “pizazz” just as you said! Love this reviewww

  4. I really really want to read this series! But I hate a trilogy that lets me down, especially if the first two books were especially good. My favourite characters are almost always evil, or badly flawed it some way. Oops 😛

  5. I loved this series so much but I will say this wasn’t my favorite book. Mal was my favorite character in the series (besides genya cause she is just precious). Mail just wants to protect Alina and love her and live a simple life. But I don’t understand your love for the Darkling.

  6. Omg I totally love this, haha especially all your spoilery things about the book! I totally didn’t notice that they kept skipping breakfast xD But I’m totally with you in that the Darkling was my favorite character out of the entire series and Alina…well, she was kind of meh for the most part.

  7. I still haven’t read Ruin in Rising, Siege and Storm just did not get me excited to go pick it up but I’m of course planning on one day finishing the series and this review didn’t make me super keen hahaha! I always feel so alone in my opinion that The Grisha series is WAY over hyped I can’t understand why people LOVE it!! Great review 🙂

  8. This installment made me so sad. I’m such a Darkling fan after all. (However, Baghra was just an okay character character for me.) I ended giving this book a 3 just because of how convenient everything seemed to be work out towards the ending… Plus, I had so many unanswered questions by the time I closed the book!

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