The thing is, I almost really liked this book. There were so many unexpectedly cool things about it. The world building, for instance, was really unique. The setting has a Russian feel to it, which is rarely used in YA, so I was diggin’ that. Plus, I thought the whole Grisha culture—where certain people have the ability to manipulate the elements around them—was fascinating, not to mention the mystery and tension surrounding the Darkling and his powers. And on top of that, the book was infinitely readable—it was well-written and well-paced, and I had a hard time putting it down.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
See? So many good things about this book. But the more YA trilogies I read, the more finicky I become, and this book did one of the things I find myself increasingly unwilling to forgive: the romance was resolved by the end of this first book. I HATE that. Truly, madly, deeply. One of the few things that will keep me reading a series is the romantic tension, and when a series resolves that by the end of the first book, I have a hard time finding the motivation to read the rest of the books. And since I was liking this book so much, I was sincerely disappointed that it resolved the romance so early. The book was outstanding in so many other ways, I was really, really hoping it would be different from the normal pattern that YA trilogies seem to always follow. But alas. I’ll also admit that I was a little bitter about how things turned out with the Darkling, because despite everything, I still kinda love him a lot.
Overall, a good book, but my pickiness sadly prevents me from calling it a great book. But I have no doubt that people who mercifully lack the same obsession I have with romantic tension will be better able to give the book the credit it’s probably due.
Rating: 3.5 / 5