Read my full review here
I actually finished reading this book awhile ago, but I procrastinated in posting my review. Part of the reason is that I was super busy, the other reason is that this book stumped me. I am so torn.
I will start with what I do like. Bardugo knows how to weave an intricate and unique story. The world in which she created is so fascinating that I was drawn in to the history and the culture but also the supernatural aspects.
Alina relishing in her power was also intriguing because a lot of the time, supernatural characters in books hate their powers or never want to use them.
The fact that Bardugo literally tells us the Darkling is evil and then proceeds to show us that he isn’t then
shows us that wait, he actually is evil is really well-written. She tricks us, much like the Darkling tricks Alina, into believing that maybe he’s misunderstood.
The premise of the underdog (if you will) accidentally discovering she/he has powers is not a new premise but it felt fresh here. Also, a friend having unrequited love for their good friend is not a new trope. However, what doesn’t quite sit well with me is why Alina wasn’t mad at Mal for being so rude to her once they were reunited. She seems like a person who doesn’t take crap - especially not from Mal - yet she didn’t tell him off and just accepted his (rather weak) apology. Perhaps she was just happy to be with him, but something about it felt odd for Alina.
For the biggest portion of the book in which Alina is at the palace, the pacing is quite slow. However, the last quarter of the book feels very rushed. I understand not telling us every detail, but since that portion is just as important as the rest of the novel, I don’t think it should have been so quick and minimal.
The final thing which stumped me is Alina’s preoccupation with appearance. I can’t decide if this is merely to show a flaw in the character or if Bardugo’s writing failed a little on some level. Bardugo attempts a few times to present Alina as though she doesn’t overly concern herself with her looks which isn’t cohesive with the majourity of the book. Mostly, Alina seems to be acutely aware of beauty and craves it for herself. There isn’t anything wrong with Alina having this ideal, but the conflicting way Bardugo writes Alina made me just as confused as Alina seemed. So. I’m stumped.
Overall, this book was well-written and engaged me. I read it in a short period of time because I was drawn into the world Bardugo created. However, some issues and inconsistencies left me a bit confused.