genre: young adult fantasy
In this sequel to Shadow and Bone, Alina has been in a dark, dark, place and is finally free. Well, on the run, afraid for her life, but at least no longer under the thumb of the Darkling. And while no one knows that she is the Sun Summoner, Alina knows that she can't run far enough to escape her destiny as a Grisha, and as the one being that might be powerful enough to stop what the Darkling has started. In a country on the brink of war, she wants so much to have the power to save her beloved Ravka but horrifying new creatures and strange visions are a serious strain on Alina's psyche. With Mal becoming more distant as her power grows, she has to decide if Ravka is worth what she is going to have to sacrifice.
Perhaps I am just becoming jaded, but I feel like young adult fantasy books are just becoming rather formulaic, at least as far as the romance goes. It was still very enjoyable - the magic is raw and powerful, a unique twist. I love the Russian overtones and one new character in particular is quite delightful. But Alina and Mal's relationship throughout this book is just pretty typical of what happens in the second of most trilogies - they are in love, they are mad, they separate, they come back together. I'm not saying that isn't fun to read, I'd just love to be surprised by something different. Alina is pretty tricky herself, though. With an awareness of how powerful she is comes the realization that she has to learn how to control it - or that power and the need for more will eventually control her. Sometimes the scenes where she is working through this were a little uncomfortable, in a good way. I think I usually like my protagonists to just be the good guy but Alina has to really work through some hard things and THAT is interesting.
Yes, this is a really engaging world with a really creepy bad guy. I have to know what happens - so I am definitely planning on finishing the series.