Synopsis: 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.
Review: 1/5 stars
I wrote the original version of this review in September. 6 months ago. One half of one calendar year ago. Sometimes I impress myself with how bad I am at this stuff.
Anyway. There were so many reasons I didn’t want to abandon this book. I didn’t hate the first one, for one thing. Which isn’t to say I loved it. Hang on, it’s been forever. I can’t remember what I thought.
HAHAHA. Oh, I am such a ditz. So past me, through Goodreads, just informed me that while I really enjoyed most of it, I full on hated the last 50 pages. Bodes well for a goddamn sequel, right? Hahahaha I am seriously such an idiot. Okay, moving on. Despite that, I thought I was going to enjoy this book. For whatever reason.
Well, okay, maybe I’m not entirely stupid. Six of Crows – which, as you all know, is Leigh Bardugo’s other series – was one of my favorites of 2016. That duology takes place in the same world, so it makes sense that I would have some hope. And, perhaps most importantly, the series was on Book Outlet so I did a really dumb thing – I bought the second and third books in one go.
I know. Rookie mistake. I say as if I haven’t made that same mistake a bajillion times. I CAN’T RESIST A GOOD DEAL, OKAY?
But after having this book on my “currently-reading” shelf on Goodreads for upwards of three months – oh my god, that’s insane. Three months? How did I last that long? Past me, how have I become what I am today in just nine months? What cosmic event made me this way? Was it this book?
Anyway. This book was marked as my current read for three months, but I just wasn’t reading it at all. So I had to do the only thing I hate more than reading bad books: abandoning them. That’s right. This is a DNF, baby. Get a good look.
It’s not that the writing is bad, exactly. It’s just this book is really, profoundly, existentially, life-changingly boring. And cliché. I made it 200 pages in (like, halfway) and NOTHING. HAPPENED. Bardugo totally could’ve gotten that down to a smooth 75. And, yes, those 75 would still have been bad, but at least it would’ve been a fraction as fun as Six of Crows.
But this book manages to be boring in more ways than just being slow. It features one of my least favorite (and most unoriginal) YA plotlines. It’s that classic second-book-in-a-trilogy move. In the first book, the
~Chosen One~ main character discovers her power without effort, and also that her power is, like, WAY better than anyone else’s. In the second, she has to – gasp – try! Namely, try to keep her power from defining her/making her evil/corrupting her/etc etc. On top of being unforgivably cliché, this storyline has never once been interesting in its long and un-illustrious history. I genuinely can’t stand books with this theme, ever. So the mundanity of this squeezed a lemon right in my paper cut.
Plus, the characters are boring. Everybody loves the Darkling, and I get that. He’s a fun villain. But he’s never around. In the looooong gaps between Darkling sightings, we’re left to mope around with Alina and what’s-his-name (the love interest guy), who just so happen the two most vanilla characters on earth. Cardboard, personified. Sturmhond is fun-ish, but he wasn’t enough to keep me interested.
Call me when Alina and Loverboy (I think his name starts with an M?) are dead and we’re following Sturmhond and the Darkling. Now THAT I am interested in. Bring some of the Six of Crows gang along for the ride! Why not?
Bottom line: This book is a snoozefest like no other. So proud of past me for not finishing it. :’)