I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
This installment of this serious took a dark turn for sure. And I can say that I was frustrated, irritated and wanted to smack each character at some point in the book.
Alina, oh man, she is not perfect that's for sure. She is full of doubts and low self esteem issues and stubbornness, but considering she is pretty much an adolescent girl who was kind of suddenly thrust into this new world, and with so much responsibility, I can understand. She was used to being ignored and looked at as a nobody, and in a couple months she is the center of a plot to overthrow a monarchy and then on the run, captured ,and now forming her own army. And then add the fact that half the population thinks she is a Saint, and we round up the debacle that is her life. She has a lot to deal with. So while I felt for Mal and his feelings of inadequacy and uselessness....I still wanted to knock him senseless most of the time for giving Alina undue stress with his wounded male ego bullshit. He is loyal, mostly kind, and I'm sure he loves her...but he needed a sharp knock to the head to wake him up out of his selfishness half this book. And I wanted to be the one who did it. The first book he was running about being a playboy and ignoring her, and now she all her attention is not on him, and he is pouting like a baby. Ugh. The romance irritated me this book, and I wanted more focus on the plans to defeat the Darkling. But thank the Saints...it looks like towards the end both had decided to get their heads out their ass, and was on their way to healing their rift and communicating.
I am also kind of sad to see that the Darkling has gone full baddie. I almost fell for him in book one along with Alina, until he revealed himself and his scheme, and will miss his softer moments, where you saw that he did have doubts, and was conflicted, wary, uncomfortable of his own plans and thoughts. This book...he was less so. He has gone full terrible and...but I liked that even in his full terribleness; he still believes fully that what he is doing is for the best. That he is the good guy in this story. Like all good villains, he still has a bit of grey, where you feel some sympathy for him. I get where he is coming from and understand his motivation....but he has lost his way. He has allowed the pursuit/hunger of power to overshadow and consume any good he may have started off wanting to accomplish. I liked the hints towards the end though, that this is not hard to do. That Alina, despite her inherent good...is also capable of his darkness. It is just there hovering outside her reach...all she has to do is take it. It keeps things very interesting.
Overall...I love this series. No one is perfect. No one is all good. It is not black/white. We all have choices, and sometimes we make the wrong one and that changes everything. Ultimately I think this is what this second book was about. Choices. We choose our fate...it doesn't choose us. I look forward to the 3rd book...where Alina now has to face another source of power trying to make her into what they want, and if she will let them.