The final twist was stupid, the villain defeat was stupid and anti-climactic, the temporary (mostly) bad things that were done to certain heroes I’ve seen elsewhere in more interesting ways/effects, so very little actually seems to happen, and a lot of the backstory isn’t even all that interesting, although it does explain a lot about certain characters. No one even gets to do anything interestingly heroic here; the personal/self-sacrificial stuff in the final confrontation isn’t even that sympathetic. The prologues and epilogues don’t even add much of anything, although the epilogue at least shows some effort at keeping in touch once everyone starts to go their own way. Taking away everyone’s names in those sections seems to be done in an effort to add style, but it really just manages to emphasize how totally colorless/personality-less the main two characters are. Alina is actually slightly more interesting when nameless, although even then, not by much.
Ruin and Rising really isn’t that much of an ending. There’s so little actual plot and action, and yet somehow this is supposed to be the end of the story. Granted there are two other follow-up series, which seem to be a good deal better (Six of Crows definitely is), but those the one that follows most of the cast of this original trilogy conclusion manages to actually have plot and characterization. How does this story, that starts the whole thing, manage to be so un-impressive and yet inspire both a set of much better novels and get a fandom going? I really don’t get it. If I hadn’t read Six of Crows first, I may not have gone through much of the rest of the Grishaverse.
The backstory about the mysterious Morozova is an interesting side story but it doesn’t have all that much connection to the main one; I mean, yes, that backstory is set-up for the mystery of the firebird amplifier, so there’s that, but it doesn’t really fit in if it doesn’t get all that integrated. It’s like a sudden realization that’s never really thought over, just noted and glossed over, so that we can get back to Alina and Mal being angsty.
Tamar and Tolya are two of the better consistent characters of the series, but they have so little presence here; it’s disappointing. Nikolai also spends most of the novel indisposed and off page. Why you would choose willingly to sideline the more interesting characters also makes little sense.
I could keep going but I’m pretty sure I’ve made my feelings on this novel and probably the whole series clear. I really don’t get how this was an NYT best-selling series.