Hello and welcome to this horrible cringefest.
I mean… Yeah no I mean exactly what I just said I’m not even going to pretend this is anything different. Because today in celebration of the recent release of King of Scars (which I still haven’t read because my preorder is LATE 😭) I’m going to be reacting to my old reviews for the Grisha trilogy, as well as sharing with you a series review with my current thoughts, after rereading this month.
I think this post is going to be really fun, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing me making fun of my past self, but it’s also going to incredibly embarrassing. Because my old reviews are… bad.
And I read this series almost exactly a year ago, which might not seem like much but… I really feel like my reviewing skills (and bookish opinions lol) have grown a lot in the past year soooo… reading reviews from a year ago is very very cringy and embarrassing.
Here we go.
(Fair warning, this post will be full of Grishaverse spoilers. Read at your own risk.)
(The words in italics are my original review, and the inserts in bold are my current thoughts.)
Shadow and Bone Review
Reviewed February 15th, 2018
I highly enjoyed this book. I read it easily in a day, because I just couldn’t put it down. (WOW. Real strong opening there Iris.)(Not like my current openings are much BETTER, but it’s still mockable.)
I really enjoyed the writing. It was beautiful, while still being easy to read. (It was the main reason why I enjoyed this book so much I believe. (You BELIEVE. Past Iris. Was it, or was it not?)(I have no clue if it was or not, but I DO like the writing style. However I also like you know… the characters? And the world?)
The world was also pretty interesting. I loved all the politics going on, not to mention the world itself. (Is this the vaguest thing ever or is this only the second vaguest thing ever? TOO VAGUE PAST ME.) I believe (YOU BELIEVE AGAIN. STOP IT PAST IRIS.) it was Russian inspired, and it was super fascinating. However, I would have liked a little bit more development… I didn’t have the slightest clue what anything looked like. (Because I didn’t read the description lol. I can picture everything just fine this time around, and gee I wonder why.) I could picture the ocean (I COULD PICTURE THE OCEAN. OH. MY. GOSH.)(I hate this.), and that was about it. And the ocean didn’t show up until the epilogue. Sooo… I would have liked to see a bit more there, but otherwise the world was really cool. (Lame finish there Iris. LAME.)(Yes I know I still do this shut up.)
And then there was the characters. They were good. I quite liked them, but they were a bit flat. (Okay this is actually still one hundred percent accurate. For the main ones at least. Why did I not address Genya???)
I couldn’t tell you anything about Alina, except her name. (Still true.) Heck, I only remember her name because I’m halfway through book two right now. (My memory isn’t THAT bad.)(Also I remembered her name for an entire year, no problem. So HA! Take that Past Me! You shouldn’t have underestimated my name remembering skills!)
I think this is an unpopular opinion, but I actually quite liked Mal. (This is actually still true. I mean, keep in mind I’m writing this while rereading Shadow and Bone (and will do the other reviews while/right after reading them), so this opinion might change, but at the moment I’m still fond of Mal.) I mean yes, he was an idiot at times, and he frustrates me at times, but he was also incredibly loyal to Alina, and was willing to do anything for her. Plus he was funny. So although he certainly drove me crazy at times, I liked him, and cared what happened to him more than anybody else. (But GENYA. DID I NOT LIKE GENYA???)
Then there was the Darkling. At first I really liked him. And then… It turned out he was evil (WAS THIS NOT OBVIOUS FROM THE START??? All the rumours, his name being THE DARKLING, and the fact that he’s just obviously a creepy asshole?? HOW DID I NOT KNOW HE WAS EVIL???)(I was an idiot. He’s such a creep.) and well… I now hate him with a fiery passion, but he’s a super complex villain (He definitely has some depth and is well developed, but I feel like this is overstating it a bit.) and he makes a great character.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. There were parts that could have been better, but I enjoyed it, and plan to continue with the series. (I ENJOYED IT AND PLAN TO CONTINUE WITH THE SERIES. YOUNG SMALL ME DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SHE WAS GETTING INTO. Sure THIS series isn’t my favourite, but I had NO IDEA what was in store for me. So many favourite characters and soooo much pain and a lifelong obsession with Six of Crows.)
Siege and Storm “Review”
Aaaaand hahahahaha I never reviewed Siege and Storm because I am a capable human being.
I will say I distinctly remember not loving it, because of the way Alina got all power hungry and terrifying. And Current Me is very confused by Past Me’s problem with that because what is not to love about badass, power hungry, terrifying, slightly-evil-but-ultimately-more-good-than-bad-woman??? Nothing. Nothing is not to love, and this time around I adored reading about Alina’s slow descent into evil (just as much as I adore reading about her rising out of it in Ruin and Rising), and her terrifying badassery.
Ruin and Rising Review
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this… I didn’t like the direction it seemed to be heading in. (Can we just say I have exactly zero clue what direction I though this was going in? I mean I do remember that feeling of not liking where it was going but… I have no clue where exactly I thought it was going, because there’s quite a few ways this could have ended 😂) Then it turned right around, and the ending blew me away! (I still stand by this actually. I really like the way it ended. I’m not sure I would say it blew me away but… I’m genuinely really pleased with how this book ended.)
I think this is easily the best in the series, (Um actually no Past Me, Siege and Storm is the best in the series, but okay, whatever you thought.) and I’m very glad I read it. I really liked the characters, (I really really really really liked the characters! Be more excited Past Me!) and this world is fascinating.
And the fact is, I’m really pleased with that ending. I was pretty sure there was no possible way I could be happy with the ending, (I really should have had more faith in Leigh Bardugo hahaha) and somehow Leigh Bardugo managed to write not only an ending I could tolerate, but one I absolutely loved.(Okay but again this is actually still true. I’m cringing at everything about this review, and yet I actually still agree with most of it. Probably because I basically only talked about the ending, but still. I will stand by the opinion that this ending is perfect.)
This series isn’t spectacular. It’s absolutely nothing compared to Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo has grown immeasurably as an author since the publication of this series. The fact is, the Grisha trilogy is simply… not her best work.
But I love it. I love it a lot.
Okay sure, sometimes I want to hurl it across the room in frustration, and sometimes I had to take a break because I was too bored to sit and read it for hours on end.
But ultimately I have nothing but fond feelings towards this series. Because the characters, the world, the writing, everything? I adore it. Not in the way I adore Six of Crows perhaps, but in the way that when I reread this trilogy… it felt like home.
The level of nostalgia I had for this series (a series I only first read about a year ago) was unreal.
Things I dislike:
- The love triangle/square. It’s just ridiculous. Mal looooves her, and the Darkling looooves her, and Nikolai doesn’t really love her, but he’s still proposing to her! And really. I. Couldn’t. Care. Less.
- Alina is so plain, and boring, and nobody likes her. And can she just shut up. (I love her. But can she shut up about how boring and unliked she is?? PLEASE.)
- Okay but actually, Alina is sorta boring sometimes. So is Mal. I like them plenty, but sometimes they’re just. So. Boring.
- The plot really isn’t super original.
- It’s just… lacking something. I don’t even know what but something is missing that would make this series amazing, instead of just good.
Things I love:
(There are a lot. You have been warned.)
- The world!! This world feels like home. I love this world. I kept flailing over all the tiny details, because the Grishaverse gives me FEELINGS. And the world building is fantastic! I really feel like I understand how this world works. And I love it. I love it so much.
- The writing! Although she has most certainly gotten much much much better at writing, I still adore the writing style in the Grisha trilogy! It just… fits the series so well, and it’s so pretty, and I love it.
- Alina’s phase of badass moral greyness. I love the way she starts to lose her sense of right and wrong. And I love the way she never fully gets it back, but does manage to regain some part of her moral compass. It’s honestly such a beautiful character arc.
- NIKOLAI. Nikolai is wonderful and hilarious and MY FAVE. I can’t believe I’m getting King of Scars soon! NIKOLAI. I love this sassy prince.
- GENYA. Genya is badass and I love her! I love her friendship with Alina! I love her attitude! And I love love love the way she has so so so much depth. She has flaws, and she’s a stronger person because of them. I adore Genya with my entire heart. She’s so strong, so brave, so fierce. And the scene where she looked the freaking King of Ravka dead in the eyes and said “I have no betters here.” was AMAZING. We love a badass queen.
- (I’m going to shut up about Genya now before this post just becomes a Genya Safin appreciation post.)
- Zoya’s spectacular character arc! Zoya starts off as your stereotypical one dimensional mean girl. And then wow. She grows into a fantastic character, who’s snarky and rude sure, but ultimately fights for what’s right, and even forms some semblance of a… if not a friendship, a… mutual respect with Alina. And it’s amazing.
- All the other characters! Tamar and Nadia! Tolya! David! Harshaw and Oncat!
- The ending. I love the ending. I know this is an unpopular opinion. But I think the ending was perfect. It’s bittersweet. And I love it. Because no, it’s not a happily ever after exactly, but I think it’s as happy as it could be. The thing is, I think this is what ultimately will make Alina the happiest. She never wanted to be queen. And yes, I love a good villain origin story of someone who has power thrust upon them and grows to love it. I love a story of a begrudging royal who has no choice but to take the throne, despite not really wanting it. But those stories don’t fit with Alina’s story. I love that Alina was ultimately happiest with a simple life with the boy she loved. How often do we see an ending like this? very rarely. And I love it. I will defend this ending to the end of my days.