80. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

My views from the first book to this second one have changed drastically – bear with me!

Synopsis (as taken from Amazon) is as follows:

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.

The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.

But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

Ability to read – This was easy to read and get into. Read straight after the first book so everything was still fresh in my mind. Did find myself trying to skim read – which was bad – as my attention wavered through what was happening.

Characterisation – My views are pretty much summed up below in ‘problems’. There was character growth in Alina, Mal and Nickolai but it didn’t resonate with me the way it did in the first book. There was a sense of predictability with the characters that frustrated me. I didn’t feel like I’d learnt anything new about them. I found instead, that I could anticipate their next move and their next moment of dialogue. The high level of action did help to hold my interest and pushed me through the frustrating character moments.

Visualisation – I had no problem here. As I stated above, I read this book straight after book 1, so everything was still in the forefront of my mind and I merely built on what I already had.

Uniqueness – I think I fell into a lull. I was so happy when I read the first book that the hype surrounding it hadn’t been a disappointment that I assumed my enjoyment of the 2nd and 3rd books would be just as good. I do feel disheartened by this installment and angry that the turn it took. I want to point out that it’s the plot I’m having issue with. Writing wise, it’s very good. The structure is solid, the flow smooth and it has a perfect balance of world building versus character development. This second instalment’s plot-line just wasn’t right for me. I’ll still read the 3rd book though.

Problems – Here’s the thing. I’m bored with love triangles. They’re predictable and frustrating and often make the heroine seem selfish and whiny. I had to take a break from the series after reading this because I was filled with anxiety and sickness and it was negitively impacting my view of the characters. I can’t stand people who cheat, people who act out of hurt or anger, or people who don’t give a chance for an explanation regardless of real life or fictional world.

The demise of Alina and Mal’s relationship grated heavily on my nerves and broke the connection I felt with the characters. These are characters I enjoyed in the first book but my feelings of Alina at the end of this book are that she’s walking a line to being irredeemable. She’s selfish, arrogant and idiotic. I feel she’s become a worse version of herself instead of a better version. My views on Mal have also changed. I no longer see him as the happy-go-lucky childhood friend and am missing his bravery, loyalty and love. I now see him as a character who took the easy way out. A character who didn’t like the way the world was changing and so used the past as an excuse to get out. That he seems to have given up on Alina so quickly speaks volumes about his character. (The reconciliation in the last few chapters of the book wasn’t enough to sway my opinion.)

I find that I am angry at the way it was written. I wish to find a fantasy heroine who doesn’t need a man to function. I am sick of these overused plot-line and stereotypes. Give me something fresh!!! I will take me a while before I’m ready to read the third book and I’m hoping it will be the saviour to the second, otherwise I’m going to regret the time it takes to read it.

Star rating – ★★★

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