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Review – Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2)

By: Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: June 4, 2013

Katy’s Rating: 3.5 stars rounded down [M: wait what?]

Mitch’s Rating: 5 stars and 1 star

Summary: 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.


Katy’s Review:

3.5 – The story? Absolutely amazing! The drama? Unbearably annoying! I’d made up my mind to love this book because Mitch had made up his mind to half love and half gripe about it. But I just could NOT give it 5 stars.

First, the Mal vent because I HAVE to get this off my chest. I felt that Bardugo tried WAY to hard to keep the romance drama in the story. For some reason, authors feel compelled to write in something – a love triangle, a jealousy, a history that can’t be overlooked – to keep readers interested in the romance. While I totally understand the need for it and am not totally opposed to its overuse, I find it was more than unnecessary in this book. And it kept interrupting the story, and I wanted to scream at how often and how prevalent Bardugo made it a factor in this book.

Do NOT click this spoiler if you have not read the book. View spoiler on my Goodreads.

The drama was just unnecessary because it just didn’t work, and I just wanted to scream and skim the scenes whenever it came up – but I didn’t because it took up so much of the book. Quit interrupting my story!

Setting that issue aside… the story was great. Alina had more than enough stupid moments to annoying the crap out of me, but I understood where she was coming from and all the issues she had to deal with – sans my little rant back there. I do think that had Bardugo had concentrated more on everything Alina has to deal with and toned down the romance department just a bit, the story would even more interesting because there was more than enough to make Alina a compellingly conflicted but determined character – the Saint and whether or not it’s true. I felt Bardugo ended up seriously hurting the plot and taking away from the real heart of the story by doing what she did.

From the first few scenes to the end, I was hooked to the story – with all the action, with all of the characters involved, with all of the politics behind it and with all the theories that are floating around my head about how everything could fit together. The pacing was very well set (minus the drama in the romance department – noticing a pattern here?), and there was a good mix of fighting scenes, intense discussion and debates and parading around as everyone prepared for the looming battle and the unknown.

Nikolai really intrigued me. He was so smooth, so charming, so calculated, so well, perfect. Sure he had his flaws, but he was always so infuriatingly well composed that I just wanted to know what was going on in his mind. I recently watched the movie, “Now You See Me,” and it made me wondering what he’s planning and how far in advance that he had thought of it, constantly amazed at how he was always either one step ahead or quickly adaptable to what’s being thrown at him. Mal is not the adaptable one, in fact, he was quite the opposite in this book. Nikolai just… well, intrigued me.

I am very curious about the Darkling and his plans and loved, in a hateful kind of way, how he was always there, haunting Alina and passively threatening her and reminding her of what’s to come. And I’m curious about the Apparat and how he and his group falls into this story.

The end leaves you with this determined “I will survive” kind of feeling and really makes you crave for more. Truly awesome, and I can’t wait for the next book – although I also dread what’s to come in the department I had vented about, although I hope he is now out of his stupid funk.

Mitch’s Review:

I think I might’ve been the only person who had one foot in each of the ‘Shadow and Bone is awesome’ and ‘Shadow and Bone is mediocre’ camps. Siege and Storm was supposed to be the book that made up my mind, but instead, it’s causing me to do the split… I truly do see why so many friends have raved about Leigh Bardugo’s series – a part of me absolutely feels the same way – yet at the same time, another part, maybe a bigger part, has so many issues with the story I also have half a mind to angrily reject everything about this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be the odd man out with my half love half loathe view toward this sequel, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s left me so utterly frustrated between my mixed reactions.

To put it another way, I once compared Shadow and Bone to a masterfully constructed house of cards, and that’s still true of Siege and Storm. It’s a beautiful view, and I’d be dishonest if I said I didn’t enjoy every minute of looking at it while it stood, and yet, at the same time, when I’m poking around, the whole thing falls apart, and I’d be dishonest too if I said that doesn’t bother, nay, enrage me. Here’s the thing, Leigh Bardugo is an excellent (some would say superficial) writer in the sense she can pull together character, setting, myth, and plot in a way that’s epic, exciting, compelling, and just feels like reading a modern day folk tale, and that got to me, it really did. I’m not going to say I didn’t feel what my raving friends felt, because I did – cool world building, tough heroine, epic fantasy, what’s not to like?

But at the end of the day, Bardugo’s talent is really making something out of nothing, because all those great qualities, if you think about it, is just that, nothing. Take for example Alina, who seems like this multifaceted character who has a complex relationship with power, but you know, she can’t even answer the most basic question about her character – why is she doing any of this, taking charge, going up against the Darkling? Love of country? Nope, that’s not it. Mal? Ha. The Darkling? Are you kidding me? Bardugo does a great job of fabricating this illusion of Alina as a complex and reluctant heroine, but behind the (admittedly awesome) writing, I just didn’t get a sense her character had any drive besides her relationship with Mal or whatever the plot demanded, and it seemed like to me she’s the kind of one dimensional character who can’t exist outside of being swept up by the plot.

As for the other characters, the Darkling’s this well written, interesting evil character, but behind the facade is… nothing at all. Seriously, we know nothing about the Darkling or his motivations. I’m disappointed because Siege and Storm gave us zero development for his character, and all the praise seems to be directed at a blank slate who’s been the lucky beneficiary of some massive transference. And Mal (a.k.a. uninteresting designated love interest), I honestly don’t know why I tolerate him as much as I do, because his character really doesn’t exist outside of causing Alina angst, this time with well received new guy Sturmhond, who, if you think about it, is just an amalgam of every bad boy stereotype ever in one well written but blatantly cliched package (with one early confrontation scene between him and the Darkling leaving me steaming). Yet I’ll admit, Bardugo has skills and she pulls all of this off, creating these seemingly complex characters that shouldn’t be, but while part of me has no qualms with liking them, the other part’s just irked by how superficial they are.

Then again, my view of the plot is just as equally conflicted. On one hand, the pacing, beyond a bizarre turnabout involving the Darkling’s reappearance in the first chapter or two, totally worked and had me hooked the whole way through, wondering if Alina could truly beat her nemesis – it’s just that riveting. On the other, the plot blatantly screams ‘quest to find MacGuffin’ and ‘obvious rehash of the first book’ with pretty much the same structure down to the same convenient nonending, and you know, I liked working my way through the story at the same time that I hated it. Like I said, it’s a testament to Leigh Bardugo’s skill as a writer that she can make such blatantly shallow elements work in her book, and I love that they work but hate how I can so easily recognize what she’s done.

Anyway, I have a feeling everyone who loved the first book will love this too. I’m also pretty sure those who didn’t will laugh this one off as well. And that leaves me in the middle with my conflicted opinions, anticipating the final book yet griping about my dissatisfaction at the same time.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

  1. Katy
    July 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

    “Wait what” what?

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