My Summary: Alina is still on the hunt for the last amplifier, and after a breaking out from the Apparat’s underground lair she, Mal, and her remaining Grisha are reunited with Prince Nikolai. Now they all have to find a way to finish the battle with the Darkling, destroy The Fold, and unite the countries. Alina is struggling with what lengths she’ll have to push herself to finish off the Darkling, and what it will mean to become Queen.
This book is a relationship roller coaster! She and Mal have not really gotten back together since the last book, but it’s clear that they still care about are devoted to each other. Mal throws himself into protecting her and helping her find the last amplifier to save the country. He also has grown up a bit from the last book – I think almost watching Alina die helped him let go of some of his pettiness. However, there is constant talk of Alina becoming Queen, on top of being seen as a weapon to end the Fold and the Darkling, and she is now a rallying point for the people and an essential element for the nation’s continuation. Therefore, Mal pushes her to be Nikolai’s queen, to give a voice to the people, and because he doesn’t think he can make her happy. Alina understands this, she loves her power, and a part of her does want to be Queen, so she tries to push herself away from him as well – thinking he’ll be happier living the life of a regular soldier and that her power scares him. This shows how grown up they both are, pushing aside their own happiness for what it best for their country, I think it’s a really important theme throughout the books and it translates really well across the page.
She and Nikolai have a solid friendship and trust that continues in this book, and when he is taken from her by the Darkling she is devastated. I think they would have been good leaders, and because they are such good friends I think they would have been pretty happy, but she would never have loved him like she loved Mal. And even though his loss hurts, it’s nothing compared to her fear of losing Mal, which pushes the two back together when we find out what Mal’s amazing tracker skills really mean (and I never would have guessed what his tie to the Grisha was!). We see even more of the other Grisha in this one, and Zoya, Nadia, Tolya, Tamar, Genya, David, and all the others are growing on me, I find I am starting to actually care about them, not just Alina, Mal, Nikolai, and the Darkling. One of the things I really like about the writing is how easy the dialogue all flows, and how light it can be. The books have a pretty serious note to them the whole time, which can feel pretty formal at times, but then you get some smart ass comments from Alina and Mal, or some of the other characters and you remember that these people are all still pretty young and are being aged by the pressure they are under.
I’m sure a lot of people thought the end to this book wraps everything up in too neat of a package, but I would argue against that. Ya, Alina ends up saving the country, but at a serious cost to both she and Mal. Nikolai ends up being able to rule, but he is deeply scarred by what was done to him by the Darkling. And Alina and Mal end up getting the quiet life she had always dreamed of before she discovered her power, but they are both haunted by what happened fighting the Darkling, and what they had to sacrifice to achieve it. I was really pleased with the ending, everything made sense, and I was glad that Alina didn’t have to lose Mal on top of everything else, I don’t think she would have been able to recover from that. And though all the characters had been through horrible things and had suffered great loss, they were able to still be pretty happy, and I loved that – one of the things I hated about Mockingjay was how depressing the end of it was, ya I get that they all have suffered a lot and will be scarred for the rest of their lives, but seriously, that doesn’t mean they don’t still have things to live for!
Overall, I really enjoyed this series and I am sure it will work it’s way into the rotation of semi-regular re-reads. Especially since I read all of them very quickly so I am sure I missed things.